Cafe Flora

Written by on January 20, 2011 in I Eat Seattle, I Eat...Out with 0 Comments

( – Madison Park

Cafe Flora

How I heard of this place: My friends Zach, Jenifer and Sadiq introduced me to Cafe Flora nearly a decade ago, as one of the first vegetarian restaurants in Seattle.

Cafe Flora Inside Left

Type of cuisine: “In the spring of 1990, three old friends and long-time residents of the Madison Valley neighborhood met to discuss the possibility of buying the abandoned laundromat at 29th and East Madison and converting it to a vegetarian restaurant. Their motives were simple; to establish a friendly, community based vegetarian restaurant close to home, to develop a restaurant that could stand as a model business in attending to the health of the planet and to start a restaurant that would introduce superb non-meat dishes from culinary traditions around the globe utilizing local, organic and sustainable produce….

Cafe Flora Bar to Kitchen

After a year of planning and development process in which the Laundromat was gutted and rebuilt for it’s new purpose, Cafe Flora opened October 1st, 1991. Since opening its doors, Cafe Flora has been at the forefront of utilizing local, organic and sustainable produce and herbs and building strong and direct relationships with Washington farms. It’s culinary team draws inspiration from international culinary traditions along with the availability of an abundance of locally grown produce to create imaginative and dynamic vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free cuisine.

Cafe Flora Straight Ahead

Ambiance: Architectural and environmental consulting firms were brought in based on their compatibility with the goals of environmentally sensitive, energy efficient design and construction along with the owner’s commitment to hiring minority and women owned businesses for all of the sub-contracting work. The kitchen was designed to be appropriate for a vegetarian restaurant – that is, spacious and open with large amounts of prep space, and maximum opportunity for interaction and collaboration among the cooking staff.  

Cafe Flora Bar

Cafe Flora has also carried its eco-conscious philosophy into their atrium, a charming garden retreat just off the main dining room. Once an outside patio, the garden atrium was enclosed in the fall of 1996 to bring al-fresco dining to guests year round. Bathed in natural light, the space boasts exotic greenery, a bubbling central fountain and natural stone accents. The collective effect creates a warm, appealing and calming environment for guests. The winning combination of eco-friendly philosophy, community based involvement and cutting edge, dynamic vegetarian cuisine has brought tremendous success. Sixteen years and one abandoned laundromat later, Cafe Flora remains Seattle’s premier vegetarian restaurant.”

Cafe Flora Right

What I ordered: The three of us dining here, two for the first time, needed to sample as many things as possible. In addition to the bread and extra virgin olive oil presented us upon seating, we requested the special soup du jour, a sweet, vegan French onion served in a shallow bowl topped with buttered and toasted crostini, topped with Parmesan cheese. For the main course, we selected three entrees to share: the Portobello Wellington ($18), consisting of grilled Portobello mushrooms, leeks and mushroom pecan pâté in puff pastry with Madeira wine sauce, served with mashed potatoes and seasonal vegetables, including cauliflower and daikon; the potato gnocchi ($17.50), crisp on the outside, soft on the inside, the potato gnocchi were served with a sautee of kale and trumpet mushrooms over roasted, julienned carrots and sweet potatoes served in a very light, very sweet truffle sauce. The third dish at our table was a Mediterranean pizza ($13), a small, round flatbread style base covered with baba ganoush, toasted pistachios, kalamata olives, arugula, freshly grated Parmesan cheese and a drizzle of olive oil. A 12-ounce mocha and a small pot of green tea were ordered with which to wash down the meal.

Cafe Flora Menu Setting

On a return visit, 26 September 2015: My 40th birthday called for an extra special trip to the south-central end of town for brunch with my family. So, here we are, ready to partake of all that Cafe Flora has to offer!

To start, an herbal tea ($3.50) for my sister,

Cafe Flora Menu & Tea

grapefruit juice for my hubby and a locally roasted and crafted Stumptown mocha ($4) for me

Cafe Flora Beverages

My two, little nephews split the Blueberry Waffle ($12): a cornmeal waffle, blueberry compote, ginger mascarpone

Cafe Flora Waffle

and the Peaches & Cream French Toast ($12): brioche dipped in a rich egg batter, fresh peaches & blackberries, oat crumble, bourbon vanilla creme anglaise.

Cafe Flora French Toast

My brother-in-law enjoyed the Breakfast Quesadilla ($12): roasted yams, poblano peppers, corn & pepper jack cheese inside an egg battered flour tortilla, topped with snappy sauce and tomatillo salsa and served with mixed greens.

Cafe Flora Omelette
while my sister and husband selected the Southern Platter ($13): eggs, smoky collard greens, housemate rosemary biscuit with vegan country gravy.

Cafe Flora Biscuits & Gravy

My husband also needed to sample (and we are happy he did!) the Raspberry Lemon Pancakes ($8): three buttermilk pancakes, lemon curd whipped cream, raspberry syrup, and fresh blackberries (as they had run out of raspberries).

Cafe Flora PancakesFor me, the Farmers Market Vegetable Hash ($15) at the server’s recommendation: seasonal market vegetables, horseradish buttermilk creme, micro greens, and poached eggs.

Cafe Flora Veggie Platter

What I loved: What I loved the most of everything on our table was the Portobello Wellington, the most savory of the three dishes. The thick, hearty, fall flavors of robust mushrooms, and root vegetables in a thick mushroom sauce hit the spot on this cold, wet, dreary evening in Madison Valley.

Why I loved it: I love that we have a cozy vegetarian restaurant in the middle of a quaint Seattle neighborhood, boasting the feel of a neighborhood cafe while doubling up as a great spot to hit up after a drive across town in traffic, to savor the flavors of local, sustainable, organic fare.

Cafe Flora 2

Cost: Average ($13-$18 per dinner entree

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