Cafe Flora: Unexpectedly hearty and no regrets

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Photo courtesy of Cafe Flora
Photo courtesy of Cafe Flora

First things first: I'm a starving artist of almost 11 years, or as I prefer: a bottom feeder. I'm a creature of habit, and rarely do I branch off beyond old haunts where I know what I'm getting and for how much.

But when the SGN offered to pick up the tab for a thoughtfully written food review, I shook off my incuriosity to treat my partner and a friend to a cool-looking vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free Seattle staple I'd long written off as "out of my league."

Tucked away in the beautiful, well-to-do neighborhood of Madison Valley, Cafe Flora awaited us for a weekday brunch. As we were led to our socially distanced outdoor table, our eyes feasted on the mesmerizing, intricate floral wallpaper. Outside, we sat next to a cute garden with little stone animal sculptures scattered throughout. The atmosphere was pleasant, and the weather was perfect for enjoying a meal.

For starters, we ordered drinks: a house-made Raspberry Lemon Balm Shrub soda with vodka; rosemary lemonade; and a Flora Bloody Mary, made with cucumber and jalapeño—infused vodka and a house blend of tomato juice, spices, and picked vegetables. Each hit the spot nicely, refreshing and tasty. Next, shifting our eyes to the food options, we suspected they might not leave us satisfied or full; after all, what is brunch without the bacon?

My partner went with the huevos plátanos breakfast served with eggs but also offered with seasoned tofu, if preferred. At home, she has been working diligently on mastering the perfect egg yolk that spills liquid gold when a fork and knife are put to it — and that's exactly what she got here. Mindful that the plantains wouldn't likely be enough to satiate her, she ordered a small kale caesar salad as an accompaniment, half of which ended up in our to-go box.

My friend, a vegetarian-restaurant first-timer, had the french dip sandwich served with grilled portobello mushrooms, and I chose the vegan Italian burger made with grilled black beans. Neither of us experienced any regret straying from our meat-heavy routines. The yam fries that went with were crispy and divine, and even though I'm well known as a ketchup fiend, I went through the aioli much quicker than my side of ketchup.

Upon sitting down and honoring the menu, my partner immediately gravitated toward the blueberry nectarine crisp, suggesting we all split one following our entrées. We all assumed we would have room for it, but by now, we each agreed we were simply too full after a hearty, delightful meal. Instead of feeling lethargic and ready for bed, though, our bodies felt nourished and ready to take on more of the beautiful day.

Conveniently, Cafe Flora is just a hop and a skip away from the Washington Park Arboretum, a perfect place to digest nature on a gorgeous afternoon. And though my partner's hopes of dessert were dashed this time, we'll certainly be back on our strapped budget to at least indulge in the crisp — a la mode, of course.

Cafe Flora is located at 2901 E. Madison St., and online at Open daily until 9 p.m.