Astig Vegan: Purveyor of Vegan Filipino Food Recipes to prove that Filipino Food can be vegan, healthy, AND delicious all the same time without losing its soul. AstigVegan recipes are developed by Richgail Enriquez. For questions or inquiries, feel free to email firstname.lastname@example.org
“They have cooked food!” was the first thing I said when I spotted Cafe Gratitude as Chris and I drove around Berkeley to get lunch. I was suprised because Cafe Gratitude is mostly known to be a raw vegan restaurant, from raw lasagna to raw soup. Not that there’s anything wrong with raw vegan, in fact there’s plenty of right with raw vegan. I’m just not sure if I’m quite there yet, I still like my food hot and cooked for the most part. So to find out Cafe Gratitude has cooked specialties seemed like a treat to me.
We walked in and immediately recognized the decor. And may I say, if you were to walk in to this place without seeing the sign that it was Cafe Gratitude, you would still know exactly where you were because of the paintings and quotes on the walls. The artworks showed paintings of people, trees, and food as well as inspirational quotes from spiritual figures talking about community, self-love and compassion. Yes, the vibe was a bit “hippie-ish” but not in a ’60s psychedelic way, more like the communal, cozy kind.
The waitress told us they harvest their food from their own organic farm. She also said that part of that harvest goes to their other restaurant, “Gracias Madre”, a vegan Mexican restaurant in San Francisco (where I celebrated my birthday few months ago!). From both titles of the restaurants, I guess the owners do love to be grateful (I would be too if I have my own farm and two vegan restaurants!).
As part of the vibe, each table at Cafe Gratitude has a card game and each card asks you a personal question about how you appreciate life. Depending on your comfort level, the game is a good ice breaker while waiting for your food.
I ordered the BLT called “I am extraordinary”, and Chris ordered an avocado grain bowl called “I am grateful”. And this grain bowl is donation based! What a concept! Basically, Cafe Gratitude offers a “pay what you can” dish to invite anyone regardless of their financial status to dine in, and to contradict the notion that healthy food is just for the rich. It’s pretty much name your price but suggested was $7 bucks (which is still relatively not bad).
But did this dish taste any good? Personally, I thought it was spectacular; hearty, creamy, and savory all in one. The grain texture of rice, the freshness of kale, the creaminess of the avocado and tahini-garlic sauce and the slightly salty-spicy flavor grew more apparent in every bite.
My BLT burger had plenty of texture and flavor too. Cafe Gratitude made their own version of a vegan patty -it wasn’t just one of those nasty rubbery soy substitute or dry vegetable patties that are available in regular hamburger joints.
After our meal, we were ready for dessert. And according to our waitress, Cafe Gratitude also operates its own local vegan ice cream creamery! We ordered the vegan ice cream sandwich, which came nicely boxed and designed with their signature art. What was inside though, was even better. The cookie sandwich tasted like sansiviral, and the ice cream was indeed creamy and melted perfectly along with the richness of the chewy cookie. Bliss.
Needless to say, I’ll be coming back and will be ordering that donation-based, hella good avocado dish-not that I’m cheap or anything