Thursday, May 13, 2010

Cafe Green

Mr. Yogato has a new shiny, green next door neighbor! After many months of looking at a "coming soon" sign, we were thrilled when Cafe Green finally turned their (environmentally friendly) lights on.

You might be familiar with Cafe Green's older sister Java Green (see our thoughts here). Both serve organic, vegan cuisine but Java Green is the more casual, quick-service of the two. Cafe Green is set in a cute rowhouse on 17th Street between Dupont and Logan Circles. There is a bar area on the first floor and a dining room on the second floor.

A variety of couches and tables (including a large communal table) make for a comfy yet eclectic feel. Think Seattle coffee shop.

The Seattle vibe doesn't end with the furniture. The vegan menu and emphasis on socially-responsible cuisine transported us back to our West Coast days. But don't worry if you're not vegan (we aren't) or vegetarian (we aren't) or even very socially-responsible (sometimes we are). While I don't generally go out of my way to eat vegan or veggie, I like to eat interesting, tasty food. Luckily, at Cafe Green I found further evidence that vegan can be both interesting and yummy.

Our very sweet waitress recommended a variety of dishes that all sounded tasty. We decided to sample several by beginning with the Starter Platter: mandoo (korean veggie dumplings), drumsticks (soy and wheat drumsticks with agave mustard and homemade bbq sauce), and two "Che" panini bites (grilled ciabatta with soy "chicken" breast, vegan cheese, and veggies, one with a sweet and tangy sauce and one with a very spicy chili sauce). While all 3 dishes were packed with flavor, I like the spicy panini bite the best.

For my entree I had the Avocado Temptation (grilled tempeh with avocado, baby spinach, tomato, and soy cheese on toasted whole wheat bread served with a side salad and half an avocado). While I was a bit worried this sandwich would be bland, I was pleasantly surprised by how flavorful it was. Tempeh (a soybean cake) can be dry or very chewy, but Cafe Green knows how to cook it. You could've told me I was eating a classic club sandwich and I would have believed you. I didn't miss the meat at all.

B ordered the Massaman Curry (sauteed eggplant, lemongrass tempeh, bell peppers, and green beans in a creamy coconut base with spicy thai red chili and ginger served over brown rice). Holy thai chilis, Batman! This dish was spicy but somehow the spice level didn't overwhelm the coconutty-lemon grass flavor.

After a weekend in Madrid where we ate way too much ham and saw a bullfight (sorry bulls), it was nice to escape into the vegan oasis that is Cafe Green. While the menu might not appeal to everyone, I would encourage you to let Cafe Green shatter your preconceptions about vegan food. I think your tastebuds might be pleasantly surprised.

Second Thoughts from B

Timing is everything and in the case of Cafe Green, their timing couldn't have been better. After a great experience at Java Green, we'd been eagerly awaiting their debut. Fortunately, it coincided perfectly with our need for a protein cleansing.

As J said, we had just returned from Madrid, and as evidenced by our appearance at a bullfight, we fully embraced the mantra, "When in Rome, do as the Romans do." And in Spain, this meant a lot of ham. After all, they did have as many Museo de Jamon (Ham Museum) restaurant/delis as we have Starbucks...

It all reminded me of a song I used to listen to as a kid by Dan Crow that told the story of eating too much ham. It went something like this:

I had ham. I had ham.
I had ham, again.

Now ham's okay maybe once a day.
Or how about once a week.
But to have that ham as much as I am
No hog's that good to eat!

Well, that just about summed up my feelings going into Cafe Green. No more ham and no more meat for a while. But eating vegan doesn't have to be about what is not on your plate. People often dwell on all of those ingredients that are missing, and fail to realize the huge number of options that talented chefs still have to work with. Some dishes taste like meat and some don't but at Cafe Green, everything tastes good. So next time you're looking for something wholesome and flavorful that won't make you fall into a food coma, stroll down to Cafe Green and give those nice people a chance. I bet it'll surprise you.
Cafe Green on Urbanspoon


Anonymous said...


Can't wait to try the place as well as make pitstops at Mr. Yogato & DD's!

Anonymous said...

Catch a bus back to the west coast.

Anonymous said...

you guys must me high on starbucks coffee.

Anonymous said...

the food is sooooo bad, u two must be loopy

J said...

Hi Anonymous,

I'm curious to know what you ordered at Cafe Green that was "soooooo bad." Specifics help the owners/chef improve upon their food and help readers know what to order or not order.