Cafe Gratitude in Newport Beach, CA is just Gratitude. It is located at 1617 Westcliff Drive along busy 17th St. The name changed to Westcliff somewhere along the two or so miles away from the 55 South but it is the same road.
Everything is fancier for the fancy beach folk in Newport. The eatery is no exception.
Cafe Gratitude in Berkeley is very Berkeley. It’s bohemian and does its own thing which is raw vegan last time we went which was a while ago, Mother’s Day when the eldest was in college, so quite some time. I was raw at the time so it must have been 2009. No one enjoyed it at the time except maybe V. I believe everyone went out for burgers after I stuffed myself with almost the entire menu, knowing this might be my one big chance to eat at the famous Cafe Gratitude I had read about in their array of books I owned and had made recipes from. Their well thought out menu names are touching and positive.
Then, another time, my friend Danananda swept me off to the Peace Labyrinth Gardens in LA and we ate at the other Cafe Gratitude, I remember it was on Larchmont. Here, the restaurant group had already began to expand to include cooked vegan food as well. Again, it was delicious and we both ate from each other’s plates and had desserts. This must have been about three or four years ago.
Today, we went to the new Gratitude.
“Have you been here before?” asked our server.
“Yes,” we said in unison and then, “I have been to the one in Berkeley.” I said.
“I haven’t been to that one, but I have been to the very first one in San Francisco.” added Dana.
” I had no idea there was one in SF.” I said with a tilt of my head to hear more.
“Yes, it’s called Gracias, Madre.” our server piped in.
“OMG!” I shrieked, almost falling off my chair with the biggest smile on my face, ” That’s where my kids took me and ML to in SF when we were there last September!” and I added, ” That was incredible! If your food is as good as that, I will be coming back”, I punctuated with a sense of relief as my whole countenance relaxed because now I knew I was in good hands. See blog post on Gracias Madre.
After re-reading the menu in between sharing and contemplating what exactly we were going to pick, I ended up indulging on the item I intuited I needed at first glance, minutes before. Every ingredient is organic and all the offerings are vegan. My kind of speed.
Danananda had the Humble Bowl which included red dal, quinoa, spinach, yams, coconut mint chutney and spicy tomato jam. In place of the quinoa, one had the option of sprouted probiotic brown rice instead, a nice touch.
I tasted her Indian flavors but was relishing my Warm-Hearted entree which was a bit more Northern Italian, clashing with her spices, so I stuck to my plate. She felt the same after trying mine.
My dish was grilled polenta with mushroom ragu, wild arugula, cashew ricotta, brazil nut parmesan and fresh basil cut chiffonade style, with a side of marinara and pesto sauces because I just had to test as much of their food as possible in one sitting, of course.
The presentation is a bit homey looking, less chef like than I expected, but I guess that’s what they are going for nowadays.
And Gracias Madre is still my favorite of the chain.
I savored every bite and we concluded the meals represented us well.
“Humble and Warm-Hearted”