A few weeks ago, when Seattle had just joined the rest of the country in the Land of Sweltering Heat, Man of La Muncha and I made plans to have dinner with M. and K., friends we hadn't seen in a while. After much emailing, we settled on Cafe Flora in Madison Valley, which serves locally sourced, seasonable, and vegetarian meals. Together with Carmelita, another vegetarian restaurant that serves seasonal local creations, Cafe Flora provides a welcome destination for the vegetarian foodies amongst us.
Once we made it to the restaurant, we parked and entered, finding that M. and K. had already arrived and had found seats in the open-air patio. The windows were open, and the sun was low in the sky; the room was reasonably comfortable given how hot it had been that day.
We settled in and perused the menu. K. informed us that everything was good, though the sambhar doesn't come close to the one she makes. While we were deciding, I ordered a glass of rosé‚ while Man of La Muncha opted for a rosemary lemonade and M. asked for a fruit smoothie. The rosé was fruity, with a petroleum nose that Man of La Muncha found off-putting; I found it tasty and perfect for the day.
After much discussion, K. decided that she would get the $25 prix fixe menu, which included one starter, a second course, and dessert, and opted to begin with the spinach salad, followed by the artichoke croquettes. M. started with the fried avocado, recommended by our server, followed by the falafel. Man of La Muncha ordered the Yakima Valley polenta, and I asked for the Oaxaca tacos, which featured mashed potatoes as a filling. If there's one thing that vies with butter for my affections, it's potatoes. Mmm...potatoes.
Our food arrived after a short wait. The fried avocado, which we all sampled, definitely lived up to the rave the server had given it. My tacos consisted of corn tortillas wrapped around creamy mashed potatoes that had been spiked with cheddar and smoked mozzarella. They were served with black bean stew, a pico de gallo, and wilted greens on the side, and were enormously satisfying. Man of La Muncha was happy with his polenta, which was rich and filling. K. and M. also seemed well-pleased with their food, as we set aside conversation for appreciation of our meal.
For dessert, K. got the vegan chocolate orange cake, while Man of La Muncha and I shared the grapefruit cremé bruleé. I was amused by their need to point out that the cremé bruleé is gluten-free, as it would be most disturbing if it were not. (Cremé bruleé is made with eggs, cream and sugar. Wheat has no place in this dish.) The cremé bruleé was tasty, though not exceptional. By the time we were ready to leave, the sun had gone down and the evening had cooled.
Cafe Flora is a tasty option for dining out, and we would certainly go back. Entrees run around $15, which is a little expensive for us to become regulars. The food is hearty and filling, though not groundbreaking. However, as a place to meet and catch up with friends while enjoying locally sourced vegetarian and vegan vittles, it's well worth the drive. And as a representative of the locavore tradition, their presence, and their mission, is most welcome.
Note: The image is from Cafe Flora's website.