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Chamomile Cafe & Bakery (Carpinteria)v.s The Natural cafe (Santa Barbara): The bad versus the good

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Chamomile Cafe & Bakery (Carpinteria)v.s The Natural cafe (Santa Barbara): The bad versus the good

wavewench | Jan 3, 2005 04:19 PM

Now I'm a very healhy eater, really, and I wanted a nice healthy lunch. What I WANTED was the Natural Cafe's steamed or grilled veggies with tofu. What I got was Chamomile Cafe in Carpenteria.

The place looked nice enough-airy, open. Really, though, the smell of old oil and the sticky, greasy table should have been a clue. My tea pot stuck to the table. My tea cup stuck to the table. My boyfriend's sleeve stuck to the table. The waitress was incompetent-she began to take an order, and moved on to the next person before the ordering person was finished. She did this to all five of us, including my 3 year old nephew. She also made a practice of stepping on my foot-odd, since it was in front of me under the table the whole time.

The menu contained typical "cafe" fare-fish tacos, soup, sandwiches and three salads-OK, the selection
sucked. I ordered a salad, which cost $8.75, apparently because it had avocado, which I asked not to get. For $3.00, I added tofu, and asked if it could be grilled with very little oil. But that would stick to the grille! Do you have spray oil? NO!

For the price ($11.75 now) I expected a huge pile of greens and tofu. I got something a little bigger than a side salad with lettuce, a few bits of tomato, carrots, and three small slices of tofu, which had no grill marks. When will resteraunt owners learn that a GRIDDLE isn't a GRILL? I shrugged, took the tofu off to my tea saucer (stuck to the table) to cut into chunks. When I scraped it off of the saucer onto the salad-I saw an oil slick where it had been. Ick.

My boyfriend rescued me by taking my tofu and giving me the beans (about 1/4 cup) from his "Roasted" chicken tacos. By the way, "roasting" at Chamomile involves coating in bread crumbs or batter of some sort and cooking on the griddle.

I took a bite of the salad and got a mouthful of grit from unwashed lettuce. It was the only salad I've ever eaten that I didn't finish.

Compare that to my next day's lunch at the Natural Cafe (three locations, I ate at the one next to the Plaza De Oro theatre). The menu is vast, with yummy healthy burritos, fish, chicken tofu and veggie dishes. I odered the steamed veggies, and asked for no rice, I was immediately asked if I wanted extra vegies to make up for it. Could I have tofu? Yes. Could it be steamed? Of Course! Out came a heaping pile of crisp steamed veggies-carrots,squash, zucchini, broccoli, cauliflower and more with a truckload of firm and perfectly steamed tofu. The tables were clean, the waitress avoided my toes, the food was yummy, plentiful, and four dollars LESS than Chamomile.

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