The upscale sister to Los Angeles’s Cafe Gratitude, Gratitude in Newport Beach delivers vegan, organic cuisine with a healthy dose of Gold Coast beach sophistication to satisfy Orange County’s desire for a unique balance of indulgence and a flexitarian outlook on a plant based diet.
In other words, in a suitably fashionable, sunny and SoCal zen-like space, you can eat your vegan, organic food and drink it, too – whether you’re rocking beach casual, hair extensions and stilettos, or yoga pants alongside high-end baby strollers (Gratitude’s core customers are women) you’ll find little of the hippy-dippy attributes often associated with vegan, organic restaurants and the granolas who frequent them.
While being a one hundred percent plant based, organic restaurant is not unique, the upscale feel-good cuisine is accompanied by a healthy dose of love and affirmations beginning with your server’s introduction, the feel-good names on the menu, and the description given when each plate arrives. Through uplifting expressions, interactions, and wholesome food Gratitude hopes that whatever space you are in when you arrive, you will experience a spiritual boost during your time at the restaurant.
Servers will prompt your soul-awakening with feel-good questions such as “What are you grateful for?” The names of the dishes are meant to be affirmations: Elated, Magical, Fearless, Humble, Liberated etc.; when diners read the menu, it is suggested they say, “I am” before each dish.
I’m grateful that Gratitude offers a thoughtfully decorated eco urban indoor space which opens to a stylish, dog-friendly 1,200 square foot patio, appealing bartenders expertly preparing beautiful floral and herbaceous cocktails, and utterly gracious, articulate waiters who are able to describe menu items and answer questions regarding preparation or ingredients with alarming ease.
Bartender Isle Anderson at work mixing cocktails like these two showstoppers from mixologist Jason Eisner’s 100% organic cocktail program: The Smoky Gin & Tonic served in a fish bowl glass with wildflowers and the Lemon Drop Snowcone with grape-based vodka and lemon-ginger-basil granita.
Gratitude offers a distinct dining experience from its sister locations in Los Angeles and San Diego with new seasonally-driven dishes from Chef Dreux Ellis, and a full, 100% organic beverage program crafted by Jason Eisner, the celebrated mixologist of Cafe Gratitude’s health-conscious sister restaurant Gracias Madre in West Hollywood.
Perusing the Small Plates for some nibbles , we were liking the sound of “I am Present” (Summer Bruschetta $9) and I am “Feliz” (Coconut, Ceviche Tostada $9). Light and packed with fresh flavors, they were both excellent choices. The bruschetta boasted a thick slice of yellow heirloom tomato on a toasted baguette with basil hempseed pesto, peppery wild arugula and cashew cheese drizzled with a golden balsamic reduction.
Thick ribbons of fresh white coconut adorned a crispy tortilla topped with black bean purée, coleslaw and roasted tomatillo sauce, avocado and cashew queso fresco for the Coconut Ceviche Tostada (above).
“Dynamic” (Samosa Chaat $15) was calling my name, and had been recommended to me beforehand. I haven’t had every dish on the menu, but it has to be one of Gratitude’s best dishes. Called “Dynamic”, the Samosa Chaat lives up to its name with a riot of vibrant color atop the baked garnet yam and cauliflower samosas – triangular poufs of delicate stuffed pastry and aromatic Indian spices with a refreshing coconut-mint chutney and a brilliant sweet tomato jam. Highly recommend.
“Giving” is the chef’s seasonal pizza with locally-sourced ingredients on an amaranth and pumpkin flour crust ($15). We couldn’t pass up pumpkin and zucchini blossom, pesto pizza which quickly disappeared. From the mouths of babes: “really tasty pizza”, “better than expected”, “I’d come here again”, “we should bring <insert vegan colleague name> here. Gratitude exceeded expectations.
You will be “Elated” (Mole Abuelita Enchiladas, $15) with this hearty dish and chef’s family mole recipe – the plump enchilada is filled with sweet summer corn, seasoned pinto beans and roasted tomatillo sauce and finished with a flourish of cashew sour cream and redolent mole sauce.
In addition to their inspired cocktails, Gratitude offers refreshing non-alcoholic spritzers, kombucha, and an array of coffee, teas, tonics, smoothies, shakes and Wellness Elixirs.
Dessert at Gratitude was “Remarkable” and “Stunning” and our gracious waiter J.C. (for real) continued to answer my probing questions about unfamiliar vegan ingredients without hesitation. FYI – dairy-free meringue is made with aquafaba which is the brine from cooked chickpeas and is also used in cocktails instead of egg whites – vegan and no salmonella worries.
Stunning (Strawberries Meringata with Chocolate Sauce $10) – aquafaba meringue, strawberry raspberry reduction coconut cashew cream, chocolate sauce. Remarkable (French Silk Pie, $10) was truly that – a dairy free, sugar free coconut chocolate pie every bit as rich and decadent as it’s non vegan namesake.
Gratitude anchors Castaway Commons at 1617 Westcliff Drive near Dover Drive and is open daily for breakfast, lunch and dinner, with a separate Gratitude To-Go outpost offering fresh-pressed juices and menu selections for diners on the run.
♥ LOVE WINS AT GRATITUDE♥
Gratitude Newport Beach
1617 Westcliff Dr.
Newport Beach, CA