I have always been leery of restaurants calling themselves “organic” or “natural.” In my experience, they often serve food that tastes more like penance than lunch, accompanied by a dipping sauce of New Age sermonizing. One usually leaves hungry, which constitutes Mission Failure in my book.
Before I went to Cafe Organic, I took the time to reconnoitre the website and the menu (I do that with every restaurant I visit). I was encouraged. There were plenty of appealing food choices, even a hamburger. And make no mistake, I love fruits and vegetables. My love stops short of worship, that’s all.
Cafe Organic is on Truxton Avenue in FoWal, off the beaten path, in a quiet little neighborhood of residences, small businesses and offices. It’s a residential‑looking structure, with a long dining room inside, a counter with stools, and an outdoor dining area in the back. The tables are brightly painted, and the walls are decorated with nature‑themed artwork. Colors are light and restful, making it quiet, tranquil, and a peaceful spot to sit and relax.
The menu is detailed on a wallboard, and there’s a smaller menu listing specials. I had decided in advance to order a pizza and some takeout for later (I was dining alone that day), but one of the specials caught my eye.
I love fish cakes. I make fish cakes—from salmon, crab, and any other fish I can form into seasoned patties. The special was fish cakes. One of the staff told me they were freshly made and personally vouched for their quality. The pizza went untasted, and I ordered the fish cakes with a side salad of quinoa and a blended‑up “green drink” called Mango Momma, a mix of mango, banana, almond milk and kale (which supplied the green).
To go, I chose a portobello mushroom melt with Swiss cheese, avocado, tomato and greens on a sprouted bun, and a ginger miso salad with spinach, beet, carrot, cucumber, sprouts and almonds, with grilled chicken and ginger miso dressing. I also got a Tropical Wonder smoothie with mango, orange, pineapple and coconut water. Dessert would be a “pick me up cookie.”
I sat and sipped my drink while they made my lunch. The drink was just slightly sweet, allowing me to taste the fruit and the bite of the kale, an improvement over heavily sweetened “health” drinks I’ve had elsewhere. Some nice ‘70s‑era rock kept me company, and I soon smelled the aroma of ginger and herbs, rather Thai and very appetizing. A few customers came and went (I was dining early in the day) and the staff was both friendly and efficient. This, I realized, is a serious restaurant, not an outpost of chic.
My fish cakes and salad came, on a real plate with silverware—welcoming, like eating at a friend’s house. Two hot cakes of fish sat on individual beds of greens, laced with fresh herbs and Asian‑inflected seasoning, topped with mango. The quinoa salad was superb—perfectly cooked grains, subtly spiced and begging for seconds. I tried not so subtly to get the dressing recipe for it, and got a friendly but diplomatically evasive response. I don’t blame the chef—I’d keep it to myself, too.
But I hope to duplicate it someday. I already have the quinoa.
Other menu choices include a Momma Earth wrap (chicken or tempeh with vegetables and herb dressing), cheeseburger (grass‑fed, hormone‑free beef), tuna salad, pesto pizza (the one that got away), and southwest wrap with black bean hummus and chipotle. Dinner size salads include kale, Mediterranean, and market salad, with assorted protein add‑ins and dressings.
Other green drink and smoothie options include Florida Delight (orange and banana), green lemonade, sweet‑n‑green (strawberry pineapple), chocolate chip almond, creamy cocoa coffee, and assorted juice shots.
There are also daily soup, salad and side dish specials. On some evenings the cafe is open for happy hour and dinner with music, serving selected beer and wines.
My family and I ate the sandwich and salad later. Both stayed fresh and good, the portobello meaty and savory, the miso salad a riot of red, green and orange that made me feel extra healthy all next day. The cookie was a cross between a brownie, an oatmeal cookie and a Fig Newton, naturally sweet and chewy.
If I entered Cafe Organic slightly prejudiced, I came out well‑fed and very glad I’d eaten all my vegetables.
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