Jeff Smith 6 p.m., Nov. 29
Breakfast at Casa de Luz
Mary Beth Abate already did an excellent job of describing the philosophy and cuisine at Casa de Luz, the vegan and macrobiotic restaurant in North Park. She correctly pointed out that, despite the "crunchy" ethos that governs the entire business, the food is both nourishing and delicious; to the extent that skeptics might be encouraged to set their prejudices aside and go veggie, even if just for an evening.
Interestingly, the restaurant also opens for breakfast every day at 7 in the morning, and the fare is the very definition of "alternative."
Much like with dinner service, the restaurant serves a single menu of breakfast foods. It costs just a little over $8 (with taxes) to make a pass at the breakfast line. The idea is to take what you want, but eat what you take, with no predetermined limitations on portioning.
French press coffee, tea, and fruit juice is available to drink as well.
The food is a serious departure from typically sweet and fatty breakfasts. Instead of pancakes, I ate a brown rice cake that was sweetened with some dried fruit and augmented with a berry tahini sauce. The fruit added only a touch of sweetness to the dish, which was otherwise dominated by the tangy tahini sauce and chewy rice. Likewise, breakfast tacos filled with azuki beans and shredded rainbow carrots were a totally savory breakfast option. I skipped the tortillas out of deference to my computer, preferring instead to eat the filling with a fork and keep my hands clean.
An amaranth porridge was a more stereotypical breakfast food. Still, the only sweetness came from some gently macerated berries (which were of outstanding quality) and the lightness of the dish in comparison to the average bowl of oatmeal, loaded with cream and sugar, was dramatic.
This breakfast didn't feel at all like a treat, and I like to go out to breakfast as a means of treating myself. There's something delightful about gobbling an entire plate of pancakes and drinking endless cups of hot coffee instead of eating a bowl of oatmeal standing at the kitchen counter. But that approach to breakfasting always, without fail, leaves me in a deep, dark food coma until the early afternoon.
Productivity becomes zilch.
Case de Luz's breakfast did not do that. In fact, I felt energized and vigorous for the duration of the morning instead of satiated and sluggish. It didn't feel like a treat, it felt like it was good for me, and that's rare in a breakfast.
I'd concur with Mary Beth that skeptics might do well to reevaluate the breakfast prerogative and give the wholesome, admittedly hippy, breakfast at Casa de Luz a shot.