14 April 2012

REVIEW: The Raw Cafe, Detroit

Last week I went to "The Raw Cafe," located in Detroit, with my friend.  It got good Yelp reviews and so, given my love for Cacao Tree, I thought I'd give another raw/vegan eatery a try!  Plus, my friend goes to Wayne State so it was convenient for him.

My friend, Tyler--hungry and excited to be at The Raw Cafe!

When we walked into the restaurant, the first thing I noticed was how bright and open the space was--very inviting!  I liked the "clean" look of the restaurant, with simple, eco-looking furnishings.  The decorations fit the integrity of the place quite nicely.  There were plenty of tables available so my friend and I seated ourselves.

We were both starving so when we sat down we immediately began looking over the menu.  The array of menu options was quite extensive and creative, with everything from mock sushi rolls to raw lasagna.

I settled on the Vegan Spaghetti and "Meat"balls (made, instead, from seeds and spices) and my friend got the Naughty Jalapeno Nachos.  The prices weren't cheap but they were not exorbitant, either--pretty comparable to other health-oriented restaurants at which I've eaten.

So far so good.  Well, kind of.  Everything scored high marks in my book except for the service.  Our waitress was very awkward and totally lacking in personality.  I asked her about various dishes and if she had favorite menu items she could recommend and my verbal prompts were returned only with a deer-in-the-headlights stare.

When the food came, I was impressed with the large serving size and artful array of the plate's contents. I didn't totally dig how watery the sauce looked but I attributed that to the high water content of the zucchini noodles and the tomatoes.  My thinking was, as long as it tastes good, I don't mind a little extra water!

 I first cut in to a "meat"ball only to have it crumble.  Note to The Raw Cafe chefs:  soak and GRIND your seeds!  So texture:  blegh.  As for the taste, well, there's no way around it.  It was bad.  The sunflower seeds tasted stale, there was waaaaayyyy too much oregano (and not enough other flavoring spices) and the overall flavor was just plain weird.  It felt like I was eating a loosely packed orb of seeds.    Essentially, what it was.  My taste buds were not fooled one bit.

To me, the fun thing about raw/vegan foods is the magic one can create with texture and flavor trickery.  Falafel patties can, for example, be made to taste like its chickpea cousin, using soaked seeds and the right seasoning!

Similarly, crusts can be made using nuts, dates and, again, spices, to create something your mouth thinks is dough!

The spaghetti sauce was much better, although it needed salt desperately.  When my friend went to get some for me (if you can believe it, there were no shakers already on the table), you would have thought he was asking for something shocking--a filet mignon, say--or something utterly impossible to come by--the egg of a Brazilian ostrich, for example--given how long it took.  Quite literally five minutes later my friend arrived back at our table with a little dish of salt.  Much better.

Lastly, the zucchini noodles.  Delicious.  I loved the thickness and the length of them and, as I said earlier, the amount of them.  Quite generous.

Overall, this meal was okay.  I still like my Cacao Tree in Royal Oak much better but I will go back to The Raw Cafe, and the next time I go I think I will try the restaurant's famed Nori Wraps or their Kale Salad. 


  1. I have never had a raw meal before but have always wanted to try something. Seems like a really fun experience to take part in.

  2. Well, I'm sure you have had a raw meal...you know, salads and the like...but I know what you mean: something funky like prunes made to taste like chicken wings...haha, j/k