Cafe Flora – Restaurant Review

First off, thanks to everyone from the blogosphere for having wished me for my birthday. I am overwhelmed by the number of people I have come to know just by having started this blog. This birthday would’ve been much better if not for this incessant cold I’ve had since the day before…Worse than that is that the little guy caught it…turned it into a fever and is stuck to me like I’m a magnet..as I write this post.

Thankfully, he was doing fine on the day of the birthday, and we were able to go to dinner at ‘Cafe Flora’ – a place that DH so thoughtfully picked out. Now Cafe Flora is very special because it is one of the best ‘Vegan/Vegetarian’ restaurants in the area. Although a bit on the pricey side, its worth it for having a celebration and for eating fresh local food. It was really late when we got there, and thanks to typical Seattle weather, it was dark and rainy outside. Being a weekday, there were few people in the restaurant and the waitress was kind enough to let us choose a table. This is a really big restaurant and could house quite a number of guests. There are two dining areas, one has a huge skylight and has a small water fountain, its quite charming actually.

I was famished by the time we got there…I had the soup of the day which was a Black bean and corn soup in a tomato based broth. It was good but nothing special that made it particularly stand out. For the main course, I had the ‘Portobello Wellington’. (Thanks to the really romantic setting, aka dim lighting, I wasn’t able to get a good picture)

It was a mixture of grilled Portobello mushrooms, leeks and mushroom pecan pâté stuffed in a in puff pastry envelope served with a Madeira wine sauce. It came with a side of mashed potatoes and sauteed veggies – cauliflower, carrot, radish and green beans. I loved the sauce..and the wellington. The portobello was really hearty and surprisingly meaty.

As for DH, he opted for the ‘Lavender Ratatouille with Chickpea Polenta’. Chickpea Polenta..now thats an idea. This dish was a pan seared chickpea polenta topped with a rich eggplant, zucchini, sweet onion, tomato and lavender ratatouille with pine nut tapenade and basil oil.

It may sound funny..but we each had half the dish, and switched plates so that we could taste the others dish. The ratatouille had a beautiful aroma and a floral sweetness to it, thanks to the lavender. But, I didn’t love the ratatouille dish as much as the Wellington. The chickpea Polenta was good, but I felt there was too much basil oil…which made for an oily dish. The tapenade added to the oily taste/texture. It was too rich…and I would have liked some more acidity to cut through the oil.

The portion sizes were just the right size. Not too less, not too much. We usually skip dessert, but it was a special ocassion. They have a really great dessert menu, and I went for my all time favorite: Creme brulee. I could see from the tiny black flecks that it was made with a real vanilla bean. Nothing particularly different from what is available at other restaurants, but rich, creamy and sinfully delicious.

All said and done..we thoroughly enjoyed our dinner. We are planning to go for brunch very soon. If you are a vegetarian/vegan and live in the Seattle area, check it out.

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