Tuesday, February 26, 2013

36. Cafe Gratitude

It was a beautiful Monday morning and I was feeling especially responsible, so I got an early start and filed my taxes with months to spare. It went a lot quicker than I expected. So despite having a work meeting soon after, I found myself with about an hour to kill. I figured a coffee and a snack would be the adult thing to do in a situation like this. I looked around and assessed my surroundings - I had two options. One was "Lemonade", a uber-expensive deli which has great food at cringe-worthy costs. The second was "Cafe Gratitude" which I've heard is an earthy all-natural cafe. Seeing as it was 9:30am, I figured it too early for heavy deli food, so I treated myself and my wallet to Cafe Gratitude.

I'll begin by saying the hostess did not seem very gracious for me walking in - despite the cafe's name. Whatever, no big deal. I was seated and perused the surroundings. I have to say from what I've heard people say about Cafe Gratitude, I expected the decor to be a little more... ahem.... bohemian. There was nary the scent of nang champa nor a single book exchange shelf to be seen. Very curious. The decor was very corporate, all the tables and chairs matched and I'm pretty sure the place had been mopped using industrial grade chemicals as it was spik n' span. And my hostess did NOT reek of unshaven armpits seasoned by a week's absence of bathing.

It was only when I received my menu that the good old fashioned hippy freakout began. The first thing to jump out at me was the menu items. Everything at Cafe Gratitude is named with the prefix of "I am" followed by some dumb-ass hippy adjective like "Grateful" or "Blossoming" or "Centered." ...Shit.

I'm sure the brain-trust at Cafe Gratitude, Incorporated all enjoyed their massive circle-jerk when some vice-president pitched this idea. But all it serves to do is make you read the entire goddamn menu top to bottom trying to figure out what each menu item is. Oh, you want an omelet? Instead of looking for omelet on the menu you now have to engage in some perverse word-search in hopes that some paragraph in there somewhat describes what could be an omelet.

This pretty much sums up Cafe Gratitude.
Oh and here's the real nut-kicker - even if you read the ENTIRE menu an omelet would not be on there anyway as the whole fucking place is vegan. Surprise!

I should also mention that today just happened to be the day I wore my hockey trucker hat and my "Franklin BBQ - King of Texas BBQ" T-shirt...oh well. Despite sticking out like a turd in a punchbowl I decided that I am not above vegan cuisine. And I would show this faux-hippy corporate eatery that I would smile, order, and eat whatever shit they could concoct. I ordered the "I am Peace" with a cup of "I am Courageous".

For the human beings reading this, that loosely translates to a bagel with cream cheese, lox, capers, tomato, onion, and sprouts, and a cup of coffee.

Now here's where my idiocy comes in. I somehow naively thought vegan meant vegetarian. So here I am thinking "Oh sure, I can try a vegetarian version of lox, heck, I'm adventurous." Me so stoopid! So you can imagine my shock when my abomination of a meal arrived.

So out comes half a "bagel" which is literally as flat as an iPhone and has the texture of a deflated balloon. It's covered in "cream cheese" that looks and feels like coffee froth. And the "lox"? Well, that was seaweed. Literally, like 4 squares of seaweed. Any Jewish person who saw this would schvitz. Especially since you don't even get a full bagel. I don't normally take pictures of my food but you all should see this shit-show:
Not pictured: A bagel.
My coffee was served with almond milk and agave sweetener. I tried putting almond milk in my coffee once and it pretty much turned out the same way that you'd imagine jizz would if you put it into coffee. I learned my lesson, but apparently cafe gratitude thinks its totally normal to have white chunks floating around in coffee. I passed on the agave, the coffee was totally ruined and frankly it tasted like shit even without the milk.

The problem with Cafe Gratitude is not the fact that it's vegan. Rather, the mistake they make is thinking they can serve vegan alternatives to normal food. Vegan cream cheese? How the FUCK do you rationally think you can pull that off? You can't. And based on my meal, you didn't. The bagel felt like I was chewing on an old sock.

When you make the leap into a vegan diet, you're just going to have to face the fact that you're going to eat mostly vegetables. To think that you're going to enjoy a bacon-wrapped steak with cheese on bread that tastes exactly the same but magically without animal byproducts is insane. And do you think the owners of cafe gratitude give a shit about the planet? There's plastic galore in that place, along with god knows how many cleaning chemicals needed in order to meet the health code. Not to mention air conditioning a massive brand new building in the heart of Larchmont. But hey, it's okay, because you're eating vegan and that's all that matters. Who cares if it tastes like goat feed.

Name: Cafe Gratitude
Genre: Vegan Cafe
Value: Expensive considering you're entire meal is made out of rhubarb and air.
What You'll Need to Enjoy Your Meal: A personal stash of bacon.
Rating: 1 / 5