Beets Cafe appeared to be the only vegan upscale restaurant in Austin. It is also the only 100% raw restaurant that I could find in Austin. So, I was particularly excited to go to Beets. Unfortunately, though, it was a bit of a let-down. As soon as we entered the restaurant, it was clear that it was not upscale and not at all what I was expecting.
The sign in the front indicated that you should seat yourself so we took a seat against the wall. People were dressed in shorts and t-shirts and were seated at multi-colored cheap-looking tables. There was a counter in the front of the cafe and items for sale to the left of the counter. The dessert case was also located in the front. Our waitress immediately greeted us -- she appeared to be serving the entire cafe by herself. She brought us the wine list, which had to have been the worst wine list I'd ever seen. Only one wine was available by the bottle. The rest of the list consisted of six cheap wines by the glass. I reluctantly ordered a red wine by Fetzer, which was as bad as I would have expected.
The appetizers were mostly dips like hummus, spinach dip, and queso and didn't sound particularly interesting. We went with the nori rolls. The rolls were filled with mock tuna pate made of sunflower seeds and almonds along with avocado, julienned vegetables and sprouts and was served with a tamari sauce. We thought the presentation was nice and the rolls were good. They definitely didn't blow us away though. For $9.50, we were expecting something really special.
For our entrees, Zach and I both ordered the raw reubens. After waiting about 30 minutes, the chef came out and said there was a problem. He had run out of sauerkraut and couldn't make us the reubens. Meanwhile, the couple who came in after us and ordered after us received a reuben. We asked why we didn't get the last one and were told the waitress must have put their order in first. That was disappointing. The chef realized how disappointed we were and offered us free entrees because of this mistake. I must say that was very generous of him.
Zach ordered the Just-A-Good Burger, which was made with carrots, beets, sprouted sunflower seeds, celery, onions, parsley, flax, olive oil, crystal salt, and spices. It was served on sunflower flatbread with sprouts, lettuce, tomato, mayo, and mustard. We both really liked this sandwich. On the side, there was a beet salad, which was okay, and veggie chips.
I ordered the ELT, which was an eggplant bacon, lettuce, and tomato sandwich. The eggplant had been dehydrated so that it was crunchy like a chip and had a nice flavor to it. It was served on the same bread as Zach's burger with lettuce, tomato, sprouts, and a creamy cashew dijonaise. The dijonaise really made this sandwich.
For dessert, we ordered the mint chocolate chip pie to go. The chef also gave us two macaroons on the house. The mint chocolate chip pie had a nice, mild mint taste to it. The macaroons were pretty good as well.
All in all, we had an okay experience at Beets Cafe. The food turned out to be good -- just not anything special as we've eaten at raw cafes and restaurants across the country. The entrees were priced around $13 each, which isn't pricey in most areas, but apparently is in Austin. We were just disappointed to find it wasn't upscale, they didn't offer any good wines, the service was poor, and they ran out of the entree we came to try. If you are going to try raw cuisine for the first time, you will probably enjoy it, but if you are a seasoned raw foodie, you will probably not be that impressed.
1611 W. 5th Street, Suite 165
Austin, TX 78703