I was pretty excited about the SF restaurant Herbivore opening up a branch in downtown Berkeley. I had always heard mixed reviews of the place, but the idea of a place specializing in hipster vegan food suckered me in, I guess. After an inauspicious start with our wacky server, things quickly went downhill, food-wise. A long wait resulted in a mediocre tomato bruschetta with basil. For a vegan restaurant to serve less than spectacular tomatoes in the height of summer doesn't just seem odd, it seems irresponsible. My oyster mushroom "ceviche" fared a little better, but cubes of tofu far outweighed the presence of the mushrooms. I think I counted about 2 pieces. Jason's penne with creamy marinara sauce was a waste of calories. Period. Poor guy was really looking forward to pasta, since we've stopped cooking it at home.
The menu is large and varied, but contains vegan versions of standard fare, or fare seen in the veggie sections of most restaurant menus in Berkeley. There is very little on the menu that seems truly original, or worth detouring to Herbivore for, even if you are vegan/vegetarian. ESPECIALLY in Berkeley! At least Cafe Gratitude has original dishes that make it your go-to center if you form an attachment to any of them.
As an aside, my favorite item at Cafe Gratitude is the "I Am Luscious" shake, with carob, brazil nuts, and dates.
The popularity of this restaurant in the city baffles me. And makes me further confirm my suspicions that hipsters who can't cook are prime targets for niche marketing of any kind. Hmmm, I see a brand opportunity coming up - Hipster Vegan Packaged Food That Is Tastier Than Tasty Bite AND Eaten By Other Cool People Like You.
No details provided because I am not going to send you there. If you need to find out for yourself. please Google the info.
The fact that I sicked up my entire meal later (sorry about TMI) may have had more to do with the fact that I'm illin' just a bit now. At least, that is the benefit of the doubt I will give the restaurant.