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Gratitude Cafe - Calgary (Kensington)

Gratitude Cafe opened today.
Trying to eat more veggies so what better place than a vegetarian restaurant for lunch.
Very bright and open compared to its predecessor Sushi Zeal.
22 seats at tables plus 4 seats at the counter (if you want to watch your food prepared).
Staff was very friendly and enthusiastic.
Menu: http://www.gratitudecafe.ca/menu.pdf
Some items were not available (yet) as it was their 1st day.

I chose the stir-fry. Only brown rice and the sweet ginger soy sauce was available today. I was handed an auxiliary "whiteboard" to make my vegetable selections - 20+ options - you could have any or all. Or if you feel like rolling the dice; they will make the selections for you. Half a dozen picks later - it's in the hands of the kitchen.

A very full dinner plate hits the table in front of me. It is pretty good and filling. Not a complaint but I would have liked the vegetables to have been (temperature) hotter. Being primarily a carnivore, some of the nuances of vegetables may have been lost on me.
The table next to me had the chili and a sandwich both of which looked pretty good too.
Real cutlery; cloth napkins; previously used china (a touch of character); funny salt and pepper shakers.

Overall, a good experience and I would repeat.

Gratitude Cafe
#101 - 227 10 St NW, Calgary, AB T2N, CA

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  1. I stopped in today- very frustrating. I noted that they cook the stir-fry described by cancowboy in a tiny little saute pan, so the veggies are flying all over the cooktop and as cancowboy confirms, they do not cook satisfactorily. I can't bite my tongue and ask why they use such tiny pans and the server says "they're individual stir-fries." So because the dish is for one person it has to be prepared in what looks like a little omelet pan? I comment that if they had a proper saute pan or preferably a wok they'd be able to cook it better and faster. I get the cold shoulder at this comment.

    This is simply no way to prepare sauteed or 'stir fried" veggies. Either everything is raw or it takes forever.

    I did order the burrito (by its menu name, which the server wasn't acquainted with, so why the cutesy names?) and was asked if I wanted "cheese." Just "cheese." I never got to taste it because I could see the orders before me would take too long and I was starving after a one-hour walk from the Univ. I ate next door at Shawarma Station instead and it was great.

    I will say that GC looks just beautiful but they don't seem to be ready to be open. At the very least they need a properly equipped kitchen- especially when the kitchen in open as it is here.

    I wish them the best of luck, I do, but I'm going to wait a while for a real visit. Might buy them a wok too.

    1. I'm glad there is a new resaturant in Kensington and a veggie one at that, however please check out this website...could they have at least come upwith their own concept!

      9 Replies
        1. re: howlin

          This is just plain stealing- not a chain at all. It's as if you opened a resto called Whataburger and sold "Gorilla Style" burgers.

          1. re: John Manzo

            It is not a chain at all. The original San fran restaurant is historic and well known. The local restaurant has nothing to do with the original other than stealing the name and menu!

            1. re: peachesandherbs

              To be fair and on further inspection, the specific menu items are quite different... but still, massive plagiarism here.

              1. re: John Manzo

                SUPER LAME! I am glad somebody pointed this out. They should be afraid of some American lawsuit... of which they would be deserving. However I get the feeling they won't be around long enough...

                The only dish I would order here would be:

                I am NOT impressed! plagiarism ruins my appetite served with a side of brown rice

          2. re: peachesandherbs

            Bad artists copy. Good artists steal.
            Pablo Picasso

            1. re: sharonanne

              I love how Manzo goes in, new guest, in a new place, and upon asking a few innocent questions gets the shoulder... "Gratitude!"

              Probably the stench of patchouli comes free with every order.

              Like we've never heard of a stir-fry before? Who cares??!?

              And art? Whatever!

              My new restaurant concept: "McDougall's" (Hamburgers and shakes!)

              Qualifier: I wish them well, but it's been done.

            2. re: peachesandherbs

              I think it would be funny to print off the Menu from cafe gratitude, go in and order things from it that are not on the menu at Gratitude Cafe.

              "Can I get an I am cheerful - live sunburger!"

              Nice to see a new Veg restaurant in town though.

            3. I am a longtime vegetarian and avid supporter of local restaurants, but I can't bring myself to check out this place until I see an explanation of why their menu looks exactly like the menu at Cafe Gratitude in California.

              2 Replies
              1. re: Jetgirly

                FWIW, I wrote to Cafe Gratitude and they are aware of this restaurant and "are working to ensure that both parties are respected and loved for the intention of spreading sacred commerce".

                1. re: cancowboy


                  Why does a vegetarian resto have rodeo murals on their windows? Putting the hokey Stampede murals up isn't mandatory, folks, and for a trendy modern joint it looks ridiculous. Especially a vegetarian one...

                  I'd like to read more reviews.

                1. re: kelownaceliac

                  Something I think is even funnier...

                  Join the Gratitude Cafe Facebook group. (Maybe you don't even have to join the group to follow these steps, I'm not sure...)

                  On the right side of the page, you will see one past event. Click on the event.

                  Open the only photo in the event. What a lovely staff party!

                  But wait! Click on the link directly under the photo for "[Name]'s Opening Party".

                  Check out the fifth picture! Do you want to sit on that chair while you eat your dinner?

                  Seriously... what kind of restaurant would leave these photos publicly accessible?

                  1. re: Jetgirly

                    Well speaking as a fartiste I can't criticize- my goodness this is a ribald bunch.

                    Good find btw :-)

                    1. re: John Manzo

                      I don't see the big deal. someone goes to San Fran, likes the concept, it is not franchised or even copyrighted and says 'hey! this would be a huge hit at home'. Change a few things around and there you go. this is done all over the place in commerce. take a good idea, tweak ever so slightly and claim it as your own. May the stronger place win. If you don't want your idea ripped off then get a patent or copyright.

                      the reviews of the service on the other hand, inexcusable. I cannot believe they got a lecture on Pop. I am very anti pop myself, but if I owned a restaurant I would not be lecturing my clients. just don't serve and say you are opting for healthier choices...yikes.

                      1. re: cleopatra999

                        The word you're looking for is "trademark", not patent or copyright. If the SF Cafe Gratitude has a trademark on their name or menu items, and they choose to defend their trademarks, those girls in Kensington are in for some legal trouble.

                        1. re: 23skidoo

                          okay, trademark...
                          I agree, you are an idiot and did not look into it then yes, they get what they deserve. if there is no trademark, too bad San Fran cafe.

                        2. re: cleopatra999

                          They could have easily ripped off a good part of the menu and the lifestyle concept they seem to be marketing through this restaurant without anyone figuring out a connection to SF. However, copying the name along with everything else screams plagiarism to me. You'd think some amount of creativity would go into a place like this... a new name is not much to ask from a restaurant owner.

                    2. re: kelownaceliac

                      We had a similar experience this week as the person who wrote the above review. Food was decent and my friend raved about her coffee, but our server made us feel very uncomfortable. Every time she left the table the conversation would change to what we could have possibly done to offend her. I believe she was the owner, based on other comments in this thread. When I left she was quite nice, so I honestly don't believe she realizes she is coming across as so unfriendly.

                      The menu was interesting enough that I would go back for a second try, if I knew I would be served by someone else. As it stands we have crossed it off our list for now.

                    3. Okay, so yesterday I made some VERY poor eating choices (including the crepes + french toast + fruit + Devonshire cream breakfast at Cora's, fish and chips at the bar after work [my second serving of fish this calendar year, maybe I'm a half-assed vegetarian] and about five vodka tonics). As I was in Kensington today for shopping and a hair appointment, I decided to "punish" myself by trying out Gratitude Cafe.

                      I was seated by a rude blonde woman who I gather is the owner (I'm basing that on descriptions here and in the news). Rude, rude, rude. Luckily, she handed me off to a brunette waitress who was a lot more pleasant. In fact, I almost felt like there was a weird vibe between the two of them with my waitress appearing a bit exasperated at the owner's rude rudeness. I have no complaints about the brunette who served me. I felt that I needed some vegetables so I ordered a salad. The waitress came back with a small whiteboard and asked me to check off the ingredients I wanted in my salad. I had lettuce with sprouts, cucumbers, carrots, bell peppers, nuts, seeds, fresh herbs and red onions. I also checked the "avocado" box and got a scoop of guacamole- I was very happy with that but someone expecting avocado slices would be disappointed. I had the balsamic vinaigrette dressing. The salad was really good and it was especially nice to get a salad not based on Earthbound Farms Organic Spring Mix, which is my salad nightmare. I have absolutely no complaints about the food and feel that it was a good value. I ordered iced tea to drink, and for $3 I got a PITCHER of iced tea that poured four glasses. Needless to say I had to pee four times during my hair appointment.

                      The owner of this restaurant needs to get a job digging holes (as my dad once screamed at a particularly offensive Home Depot employee) but I definitely plan to return, and I would encourage you to give it a try. The restaurant was packed the first time I walked by, packed when I returned for lunch, and packed when I walked past again on my way home. Frankly, it was head and shoulders above The Coup and the salad was on par with the one I get at Rebar (aka The Best Vegetarian Restaurant in the World) back home in Victoria.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Jetgirly

                        Excellent review jg- too many reviews focus on only one negative (or positive) aspect of a visit.

                        I'm assuming if you can pick salad ingredients that you don't have to get my personal pet peeve which is lettuce per se on a salad- give my shredded carrots and peas and sunflower seeds and cukes and NO LETTUCE but it is pretty much impossible to get such a thing. I'll try again.

                      2. AWFUL!!
                        My husband and I were strolling through Kensington, planning on stopping at a cafe and having a coffee and small bite, when we stumbled upon the Gratitude Cafe. We walked into an empty restaurant and were quickly greeted and took a table. The server, who I gather is also the owner, quickly brought us menus and two glasses of water, good start.
                        We ordered coffee, the pick your own ingredients sandwich, and the spicy sampler. Seems like it'd be smarter and quicker if they offered you their ingredient board with the menu, instead of having to tell your server you want to order one of the pick your own ingredients items, and then be given an ingredient list and wait to order again. Ordering our food seemed to take much longer than it should have.
                        The coffee came first and was okay. I'm guessing it was an Americano and not actual brewed coffee, not a big deal to me, but the server could have told us they did not have brewed coffee at the time.
                        When our food arrived I was shocked to see what I had ordered. Its my own fault for not asking specifically what was included in the sampler, but I couldn't have imagined it would be this bad. The plate had a small bowl of popcorn, 3 sushi style soya dishes filled with tiny portions of dips, tortilla chips, and 3 bizarre little pastries. The popcorn was very sweet, almost like caramel popcorn, with a taste of chili. It could have been good if I was in the mood, but I was not expecting anything sweet since I ordered the spicy sampler, and was definitely not expecting popcorn, lame. The dips were such a joke! One dish had spoonful of sour cream sprinkled with green onions, I couldn't tell if it was just sour cream or a poor attempt at a sour cream dip, it tasted pretty plain. The next dish had a spicy homemade salsa, which was the best thing on the plate, but again it was just a spoonful. The last dish had what I think was a chutney, and hoisin sauce? both were inedible with tortilla chips, and probably with most other foods. The spicy shortbread was okay, but too sweet. Then there was a spicy maple fudge thing, and a spicy chocolate one. The maple fudge was so disgusting and sweet I wouldn't dare try the chocolate one. Even if everything on the plate was delicious I would still be disappointed with the tiny portions, a complete rip off.
                        Luckily DH was kind enough to share his sandwich with me, which was pretty good but nothing special. The sandwich is served with a cup of their daily soup, and a side salad. DH said the soup tasted bland, and was given the wrong dressing for his salad, which was just an ordinary handful of salad greens.
                        I was hoping the server would ask us how our meal was, but she didn't, so we quickly paid the bill and left. I figure there's no point in giving feedback if they don't care. Another point worth mentioning, their playlist was short and repeated itself, luckily it was good tunes, but kind of annoying still. Also while we were eating, two guys had just finished eating behind us, when a party of four came in, the server asked the guys if they were still staying, and when they said yes she asked them to get up and move to another table. RUDE!
                        I will not be going back here again, and would advise others to stay away. I'm all for experimental vegetarian food, but not bad food, and bad service. Its unfortunate that they could only steal the concept from another restaurant, if only they could have stolen the recipes too.

                        Gratitude Cafe
                        #101 - 227 10 St NW, Calgary, AB T2N, CA