The big surprise of Cafe Gratitude is that an all-raw, all-vegan restaurant can impress the hell out of everybody, even the decidedly non-vegan Melanie Wong. All hounds are unanimous in their praise of Gratitude’s crackers. They’re delicious and crispy, especially the red crackers with flax seeds. The thick-cut, brown cracker out pumpernickels most pumpernickel breads. These crackers show up in a lot of dishes. The “I am happy” platter consists of hummus with crackers; the “I am present” platter is the cheese of the day (like, for instance, soft cashew cheese) with apples, olive tapenade, crackers, and toast. Agrees david kaplan, the crackers are absolutely terrific. His favorite dish for pure cracker enjoyment: bruschetta, where crackers are topped with tomatoes and other nibblies.

Their guacamole is luscious and beautiful; salsa is zingy and fresh. Another favorite: crimini mushrooms, stuffed with soy sauce-flavored nut paste. The dish with kimchee and vegetables over rice or quinoa is great, and displays their willingness to make things properly spicy.

Desserts are the biggest surprise of all; they’re unqualifiedly tasty. Lemon pie is satisfyingly tart; soft-serve ice “cream” is full of the natural sweetness of dates and a touch of vanilla. Best of all: a creamy key lime pie, vibrant with lime, over a fine date and nut crust.

Not so great: dull tapenade; bitter, stringy kale and seaweed salad; and underspiced, mushy falafel. And Caesar salad is a failure. You try making a Caesar salad without anchovies. Or cheese

And a final word of warning, from Melanie: be careful about some of their drinks, if you’re not used to a high-fiber diet. We don’t want anybody to get hurt out there.

Cafe Gratitude [Mission]
2400 Harrison St., near 20th St., San Francisco

Board Links: “I AM ABUNDANT” . . . Cafe Gratitude, San Francisco

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