This past Saturday we descended on Cafe Flora in the Madison District for our friend Jo’s birthday celebration. Cafe Flora is a vegan friendly vegetarian place with something you just don’t find anymore in Seattle, a parking lot. An honest to gosh, full size parking lot. This party was getting off to a great start.
The Cafe Flora is a huge place for neighborhood standards. No dramatically dark dingy 5 table angst ridden joint here. The place is large, airy and extremely well lit. The woods are light ash and pine, the pictures whimsical and bright. I didn’t do a full count, but I’d say the place would comfortably seat at least 80.
Finding the table we sat down and exchanged the normal pleasantries when dining with a mix of old and new friends. I ordered a cocktail that was Bullet bourbon, rosemary lemonade, and black tea. Just outstanding. Light and refreshing, the rosemary took it over the top. Beth opted for a glass of Andelsheim Pinot Gris and pronounced it wonderful.
For a starter we shared something truly extraordinary, fried avocado. Slices of avocado are dipped in a cornmeal batter, like for a corn dog say, and fried. They are served with a cayenne aioli and a lovely papaya chutney. The breading is thick and quite crispy. Bite into one and the avocado explodes and melts over the tongue causing the diner to make silly, uncontrollable yummy sounds. I cannot recommend this dish enough.
For main course, Beth ordered the French dip which is caramelized onions, Swiss cheese and portobella mushrooms on this herbed and seeded baguette. When I say the baguette was seeded, it was like it was rolled in bird seed, and in a good way. The dish came ‘au jus’, with the jus being a roasted garlic and mushroom reduction that I would have sworn on my mothers grave was a prime rib au jus. Perfect match to the sandwich.
The Artichoke Croquettes I ordered, were a different story all together. Bland, tasteless globs with some sort of a sweet sauce, origin undetermined. In all honestly, I have to believe a sous chef prepared these and forgot the seasoning or a key ingredient. The only palatable part of the dish were the sauteed asparagus spears that, to be fair, were done to perfection.
I finished off with a very nice espresso, while the others opted for dessert. From the ooh’s and ahs emanating from around the table, I’m going to go out on a limb and say they were well received. We said our goodbyes and headed back across the lake.
Cafe Flora is truly a one of a kind vegetarian place. They have dishes that are vegan friendly, as well as several that are also gluten free. The support staff is friendly and very knowledgeable about menu. The decor is friendly and inviting, right down to the outside garden area. And even with my issues with the main course, a repeat trip is definitely in order.