For months the Kansas City vegan community has been buzzing about the coming of San Francisco-based all-vegan restaurant mini-chain Cafe Gratitude. I had the pleasure of dining there yesterday on opening day! The first thing I noticed was the friendly atmosphere. I was greeted by several very enthusiastic employees upon entering.
The waitress explained that this is the first location outside of California (yay KC!) and went over the menu with me. I ordered a juice while waiting for my friends to arrive.
I have to say: the food is delicious and super nourishing, but the hippie menu titles are going to turn off a lot of Kansas Citians. They seem very, well, California. The waitress explained that each one is an affirmation, tied to the restaurant’s theme of personal growth. I don’t mind; I think it’s cute that they have a theme and run with it, but I noticed that my friend Tom refused to say the full names of the dishes, and I can’t say I blame him. (Tom, by the way, is mostly vegan; he’s not some meat-chomping, gun-toting Republican.)
For example…the juice that I ordered—a nutritious blend of kale, beet, celery, apple and ginger—was called I AM WORTHY, and when the waitress delivered it she said, “YOU ARE WORTHY!” At the very least these affirmations do not give any tangible description of what the dish is, requiring careful reading of the menu descriptions. That said, my juice was delicious, as was everything else we ordered.
My friend Ami and I both ordered the I AM EXTRAORDINARY, a vegan BLT made with chipotle-maple coconut bacon.
The crispy texture of the coconut was quite nice, but the sweet flavor of the coconut was a little bit overpowering. I liked it more the more I ate it. It was really good, but it’s definitely not fooling anybody. To be fair, I have yet to find a veggie bacon that would come close to fooling anybody. However, Ami is a bacon-eating omnivore, and she really liked this coconut bacon.
This came with a lovely side salad, and I added a side of kimchi. The kimchi seemed more like a potent vinegar coleslaw to me. It was not spicy or fermented—but I really liked it anyway.
Tom ordered the I AM HUMBLE—or the lentils, as he called it. He said it was “perfect.”
At one point Tom seemed to get fed up with the super friendly service. When one of the owners asked us how our food was, he replied, “You’re the third person to ask us!” You can’t blame them for being eager on opening day, though.
It did take a while to get our food. The waitress explained that they were experiencing some kind of computer glitch. Again, that kind of kink is to be expected on opening day.
For dessert we ordered 2 slices of the cashew-based Turtle Cheesecake. Tom didn’t care for it (he doesn’t eat a lot of sweets, though), but Ami and I LOVED it!
Hippie atmosphere or not, I hope that Kansas City will be thankful for the delicious, nutritious food at Cafe Gratitude! I, for one, can’t wait to try their breakfast fare—whether here or (more likely) in San Francisco! If nothing else, Cafe Gratitude serves as further proof that Midwestern cities are veg-friendly.