No animals were harmed in the making of this sandwich

|
(13)
Take me to your sandwich: Cafe Gratitude's new vegan BLT
ALL PHOTOS BY HANNAH TEPPER

Last week long-time SF vegan restaurant and gathering place, Café Gratitude reopened after a short closure due to remodeling, unveiling not only their spruced-up interior but a new menu that includes old favorites as well as some new creations. 

Included in the new menu is a vegan BLT sandwich. Sounded great, so I promptly traipsed down last weekend. Of course on the restaurant's New-Age, posi-vibes menu this BLT is called “I Am Extraordinary,” with sautéed maple bacon, romaine, tomato, spicy aioli, and avocado on an organic wheat bun. It was only the second day after its reopening, and the restaurant was packed with happy diners, whom I noticed were mostly of the older variety the day I visited. All of the tables are communal, but even so, I could barely find a seat. I felt that familiar Café Gratitude feeling: that of leaving planet Earth behind. 

If you’ve never been to Café Gratitude, then some background information is in order. The place is much like walking on board a spaceship manned by a fleet of friendly and encouraging aliens. The ship is decorated with trippy pictures of deliriously pleased humans farming, sharing, floating on rivers of love, etc. 

Once aboard, you will be expected to no longer use regular English, but instead a vocabulary relating only to epic self love. When you want something like food or water, you will have to utter phrases like, “I am pure,” and “I am luscious,” in order to procure them. 

The flight crew will bring you the healthiest of vegan food and drinks, some raw, or “alive,” referring to their probiotic qualities. All will come at a high price, usually somewhere around $15, but this is because of the local, organic, meticulously-crafted quality of the menu. While you eat, crew members will periodically come by your table and ask strange questions like, “what inspires you?” and “how do you show love?” After paying you will be released from the ship feeling great, your aura slightly aglow with an alien love light. 

I took my seat on the spaceship announced, “I am extraordinary,” and waited for my BLT to arrive, which it eventually did, with a bed of greens. Although I haven’t had a real BLT in years, I can safely say that this sandwich was not one – but it did make serious strides to honor the title. The coconut bacon was crunchy, salty and sweet, much like the “oink oink” variety. 

Vegan bacon, revealed

The interesting thing about good vegan versions of traditionally non-vegan things is that these substitutes will often take on a light of their own. This was certainly the case with Café Gratitude’s aioli. It's cashew-based and has a hummus-like quality, so they pile it on with much more vigor and less restraint than one would conventional aioli. 

It was different, not that there’s anything wrong with that. My sandwich was hearty, flavorful, and fresh. I scarfed it down in minutes and felt satisfied – and, I guess you could say, extraordinary. “I am extraordinary” does have a nice ring to it, but still, if I had to rename it, I would call it, “nut hummus sandwich with coconut flakes.”

 

Cafe Gratitude 

2400 Harrison, SF

(415) 824-4652

(And other Bay Area locations)

www.cafegratitude.com

Comments

Respect and understanding come when sandwiches are preferred with no meat in them. The vegan diet is not being welcomed to most restaurants and diners these days - they may serve meat with their other sandwiches but they also offer another variety in which health-conscious folks as well as those who do not eat meat can still indulge in.

Posted by catering Fort Lauderdale on Sep. 13, 2011 @ 10:41 pm

yummm...i love cafe gratitude, and this article made me laugh! everyone posting comments here should see the new film "Forks over Knives" opening in San Francisco this coming weekend for a primer on how a plant-based diet is all it takes to prevent the major ills of our culture--cancer, heart disease, and diabetes, to name a few. then you'll go running to places like cafe gratitude. http://www.forksoverknives.com/

Posted by Guest daniele erville on May. 10, 2011 @ 12:43 am

Hi I am the writer of this post, and I would like to respond to the comment titled "An Insider's Knowledge."

I am aware that the ingredient in question is referred to as "spicy chipotle aioli" on the menu http://www.cafegratitude.com/menu and I continuously refer to it as such in my blog post. I'm not sure why the author of "An Insider's Knowledge," chooses to refer to it as a spicy nacho sauce, but as we all might remember, a rose by any other name (or whatever name) is still a rose.

And this time, the rose has "a hummus like quality." And as far as that is my personal observation, I don't think there's anything too incorrect about that.

Further reading: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Private_language_argument

Posted by Hannah Tepper on May. 06, 2011 @ 11:02 am

It's not a hummus. It's a spicy cream-like sauce. Very tasty!

Posted by Guest on May. 06, 2011 @ 8:20 am

Why do vegetarians and vegans try to emulate meat - the texture, taste, smell etc... vs. just enjoying vegetables and grains as they are?

Posted by Lucretia Snapples on May. 05, 2011 @ 10:10 pm

dunno. majority of people probably agree.

Posted by sam on Jun. 23, 2011 @ 8:32 am

it's so great and so much like meat that it will make meat eaters join in.

It's like Steve Jones and bikes. "I'm having such a great time at it, and it's so great for mother Gia, you should do it too"

Posted by meatlock on May. 06, 2011 @ 11:48 am

Strangely, no mention of their previous rat problems. I am infested!
http://sanfrancisco.grubstreet.com/2010/08/shouldnt_a_restaurant_be_forc...

Also no mention of the cult seminars their employees are forced to attend

Posted by Guest on May. 05, 2011 @ 1:28 pm

I work at Cafe Gratitude. We are not "forced" to take any seminars nor are we infested with rats. Also, the writer is incorrect. There is no nut hummus in this sandwich. It's a spicy nacho sauce. It's my favorite dish on the menu! I've had one every day since we got it and my thighs will prove it.

Posted by Guest on May. 06, 2011 @ 8:23 am

I laughed out loud a couple times while reading this!! Not sure I'm up for the cocoanut hummus s'wich, but would love to go to lunch w/ the review, just to hear her say "I am extraordinary," etc!

Posted by Guest Ellie Berkowitz on May. 05, 2011 @ 12:25 pm

I live a block or so away from Gratitude, when it opened I thought of giving it a try, I looked at the menu and decided it's not for me.

Sometime later I see a friend of mine walking with his daily coffee, he said he had got his coffee at Gratitude instead of Atlas to check it out. It took five minutes for the coffee and they kept asking him what he was thankful or whatever for, then they gave him a "courageous coffee" or some such thing. He was agitated that they were hectoring him with their non sense at 8AM.

It's not as entertaining as you would think it would be, that is if you are not predisposed to affirmations.

Posted by meatlock on May. 06, 2011 @ 11:44 am

that people always say things like, " ...then the staff continued to ask me what I am grateful for and forced me to engage in new age conversation," for example...because I too work there. I never force customers to do or say anything and I am pretty sure, as we are trained to do, we always ask, "can I ask you the question of the day?" We don't just walk around floating through space spouting out non sequitors. I am pretty much a regular person, not too much into the new age thing. I'm usually pretty skeptical and jaded about most things. I get confused when other "regular" people get all annoyed or freaked out about Cafe Gratitude....it seems slightly immature. Do people really take themselves that serious?

Posted by I think its funny on May. 17, 2011 @ 7:47 pm

My favorite food writer with a vegan bias. Ellie should take a look at this.

Posted by Guest on May. 05, 2011 @ 12:09 pm

Related articles

  • Aloha, partner

    THE WEEKNIGHTER: Tiki drinks, tiny umbrellas, and Hell's Angels history at North Beach's Hawaii West 

  • Spammy Fries

    TABLEHOPPING: A trio of restaurant openings — Calvados, cheese cones, and craft beer, represent! — plus a new spot for loco moco.

  • Brunch me

    TABLEHOPPING New spots to hop out of bed for, Monday pizza at The Mill, and Off the Grid's TGIF fiesta.

  • Also from this author

  • Summer fairs and festivals

    Get ready for the solstice with our guide to summertime fun 

  • Superlist 2011: Bottomless mimosas

    City-wide guide to the best sparkling orange deals

  • FEAST: 9 meat-free marvels

    Vegetarian sandwiches take over the world