Monday, March 7, 2016

Restaurant Review: Cafe Gratitude in Newport Beach, CA

Cafe Gratitude breakfast!

Cafe Gratitude recently expanded into Orange County with the opening of its newest restaurant in Newport Beach, California. Though there are several Cafe Gratitude locations up in Los Angeles, I had never been to one, so I was excited that one was opening so close to home! 

Gratitude is 100% plant-based, with 99% of their items being vegan - the only items that you need to watch out for are honey and bee pollen in some of their drinks and/or dishes. These are usually noted on the menu descriptions, but you can also ask your server to be sure. They also have many gluten free options and they use organic ingredients whenever possible.

A glimpse of the Cafe Gratitude breakfast menu - 
the menu is seasonal and varies.

Upon first walking into Gratitude, you are met with a bright and airy space that has a relaxing vibe. The interior has light colored tile and eclectic wall hangings. There is a mix of tables and booths, along with a cute bar area in the middle of the restaurant. There is a large outside patio (though I would avoid it until the construction next door is finished) with beautifully tiled floor and all the tables are dotted with succulents. Parking is free in front and behind the building, though the center does get quite busy and full. There is an adjacent bank lot that can be used as long as it is not during the bank's open hours. 

The bar at Cafe Gratitude

At first glance, the Gratitude menu and vibe seem kinda hokey, what with their dishes being named after affirmations ("I Am Content", "I Am Thriving", "I Am Liberated" and so on), but I figured I would play along for my first visit, which was for breakfast. They have a pretty varied breakfast menu, which is served on weekdays from 8 AM to 11 AM and on weekends 8 AM to 1 PM. They also serve a variety of cocktails and libations. Their breakfast menu contains items like baked goods, French toast, oatmeal, breakfast burritos, scrambles, pancakes, crepes, tacos, and more! 

My choice for breakfast was their "I Am Thrilled" ($15) French toast with strawberry raspberry reduction, cashew creme fraiche, maple syrup, powdered sugar. The presentation of the dish was gorgeous and the flavors were delectable! My only issue was that the crust of the bread used was way too tough and really hard to cut with a knife. It tainted what would otherwise have a superb dish, and I found myself muttering "I am frustrated" while trying to saw through it. 

Mister Spooky got the "Yo Soy Supremo" ($16) breakfast burrito mojado with heirloom potatoes, pinto beans, coconut bacon, avocado and topped with pumpkin seed salsa verde and goji chipotle sauce. I snagged some bites of it and it was very yummy! I loved the different textures in the dish and the melding of the flavors, and the burrito was quite large! Would definitely order this again. 

For drinks, I ordered a black coffee, I mean "I Am Courageous" ($3), and Mister Spooky tried one of their cold pressed cocktails - "We Got the Heat" ($13) with mezcal espadin, jalapeno mint pineapple juice, served in a copper pineapple. My coffee was okay, though not strong enough by my standards, but the "We Got the Heat" was pretty darn tasty, though slightly too sweet for the Mister. 

The service was attentive and very chipper (even fairly early in the morning, ack!). After the spiel about what they stand for and how to affirm your orders, they generally leave you alone besides coming back to refill your water and check that everything is okay. Our servers were very friendly and fit the whole happy vibe of the place. They kinda made me want to open a restaurant called Ingratitude with surly servers and dishes called "I Am Distraught" and "I Am Awful", haha! 

I quickly got over the contrived naming conventions of the menu and the exaggerated cheerfulness of the place, because the food itself was quite tasty. Though the prices of dishes will make this an occasional splurge, they aren't all that extravagant compared to other similar eateries in Orange County. I look forward to returning and trying more of their cocktails as well as their lunch and dinner menus. Cafe Gratitude is a welcome addition to Orange County!

To learn more and check out the full menus, check out Cafe Gratitude's website!

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