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Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Cafe Gratitude in the Sunset 

Cafe Gratitude on Harrison has gotten a lot of attention and plenty of reviews, one in particular from Sam, which kinda prevented me from going there, even though I wanted to check it out.

Well, good news for me, they opened another branch in the Sunset (at 9th and Irving, in the former Cafe Einstein, former Cafe Evolution space). They will open a 3rd location in Berkeley (shattuck @ virginia) in January. I had been to Einstein, and I cannot believe what they did to the space. They put in a big kitchen which eats most of the front room, but they also made a really cool space in the back, and they have a great garden. With a neat space like this, everyone visiting goes 'ooh' and 'aaaah,' as I overhead the UCSF kid saying when they came in for lunch.

It's all large communal tables, so you better be friendly, it is the philosophy of the place. I had the "I am cheerful" plate, which they call a burger, and is nothing like a burger, but was really good nonetheless. It was a patty made of pumpkin seeds and walnut on a raw cracker made with buckwheat and sunflower. The cracker was amazing. I also sampled many of the desserts ("I am super," a strong chocolate paste, and "I am thrilled" with cinnamon and nuts and "I am playful" a green nugget with cranberry-almond and hemp seeds) which were ok.

The funny thing is: those raw dishes, they are exactly what haute cuisine chefs are trying to do. Tweak ingredients to reveal something previously hidden about them. I had once some 'spaghetti carbonara' á la Ferran Adria. The spaghetti was made with a jellyfied carbonara sauce instead of regular pasta. The idea is to challenge the taste buds of the eater by offering the appearance and the taste without actual spaghetti in there, and to take a lowly dish and turn it into something refined, etc. Gratitude has some attitude of its own, but the creativity comes from the same impulse. To those who complain about the dictature of the Chez Panisse dogma, Gratitude is a cute antidote.






Comments:
oh dear - i never meant to put you off that much.

It's not the food that worries me - its the crazy shit that scares me. I am petrified!
I happen to enjoy experimental vegan raw food, every once in a while.
 
It's not that you put me off, it's that you did such a great job, there is little to add.

I kinda enjoyed the brain washing experience. The service there was awfully nice. Then I was reading this little card that said:
"Every moment in life is a choice. What master are you serving?" It was fun.
 
i do think that is one of my personal favourite posts i have ever written.
If only I could do that well more often.
oh well.
I thought your SFist ppost was really well written this week - you sound like a pro!
 
I don't think a pro would sneak in words about porn stars, but thank you anyway!
 
I was sad to see Einstein go, then sad to see Evolution live such a short life. Good know something else that's exciting has opened in that space.

The best thing is that if the raw dishes don't fill you up, you can sneak next door to Milano for a slice of pepperoni.
 
Milano is good? Never tried it.

I actually went across the street at arizmendi for some coffee and some scone for dessert.
 
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