Yesterday for dinner my family and I went to Cafe Gratitude, in Berkeley.

The original Cafe Gratitude is in San Francisco (now with two San Francisco locations), and the Berkeley Cafe Gratitude is their new third location.

For those not familiar with Cafe Gratitude, it was founded by Matthew and Terces Engelhart. Cafe Gratitude and its founders can seem a bit over the top, even for the most open-minded of souls – raw food enthusiast or not. Their “about us” page on their website opens with “Matthew Engelhart started training in the being of abundance in 1984 and today he is skillful at being able to keep his attention on all there is to be grateful for.”

Terces Engelhart’s presence, we are told, “is the gift of being present and listening for our most genuine Self to emerge. She grants acceptance and love to whomever she encounters as her commitment to living in Oneness.”

Their menu (the same at all three location) reflects this attention, abundance and Oneness. Every single thing on the menu is named “I am [something]”, such as “I Am Bountiful” (their bruschetta appetizer), or “I Am Insightful” (samosas) or, my favourite, “I Am Magical” (stuffed mushrooms).

Their waitstaff are all trained to say these menu choice names as though they were complimenting you… “You are bountiful” (I know, but I’ve been trying to lose weight), or “You are magical.”

BUT, and this is a big but – even if you think that this might put you off – or that you might not appreciate the communal dining (their tables all seat about eight, so if you have a smaller party you will be sat with others, or have others sat with you) – even if all of that might otherwise put you off… THE FOOD IS AMAZING!!!

Every single bit of it is live or raw, or live and raw, and it is simply phenomenal. If you didn’t know better, you would never guess that the food was raw, you would just think that you were eating a slightly different but fantastic rendering of whatever it was that you’d ordered.

Every dish is so vibrant, so alive (no pun intended). The flavours were incredible, and the presentation just beautiful.

We started out with the bruschetta (“I am Bountiful”), the magical mushrooms, and guacamole (“I am Generous”).

By way of example, the bruschetta was “Four slices of our live toast topped with fresh tomatoes, basil, garlic, stone ground olive oil and brazil nut parmesan.”

I don’t know how they made their “toast”, but this was no cardboard flax cracker (and even their flax crackers were fantastic).

For dinner my husband had the “I am Abundant”, which was a sample platter featuring “live nachos, kale-sea veggie salad, stuffed mushroom, olive tapenade, live hummus, and a mini Thai coconut soup. Served with assorted live crackers and almond toast.”

I had the special enchilada of the day, which always changes but is always a live soft veggie tortilla filled with the special filling of the day and topped with a spicy salsa verde, and is always called “I am Elated”. And I was! It was so delicious, and the filling – which I think was their chipotle and sunflower seed “refried beansâ€? – was exquisite.

Despite being utterly and wonderfully replete (“I am Full”), we just had to try dessert. I had the cobbler of the day, and our son had one of their sundaes made with their homemade softserve “ice creams”, made from nut milk (“I am Lovely” and “I am Deserving”, respectively).

They were both fabulous – and in fact my ‘cobbler’ was incredible. Fresh, sweet, perfect strawberries, blueberries and apricots topped with a melange of chopped nuts and cinnamon.

All in all it was an incredible meal – enhanced by or despite the ultra gratitudinous atmosphere – depending on how you look at it.

We will definitely be going back.

Cafe Gratitude, Berkeley is at:

1730 Shattuck Avenue, Corner of Virginia
Berkeley, California

Their San Francisco locations are at:

1. 2400 Harrison Street
2. 1336 9th Avenue
San Francisco, California

The Cafe Gratitude menu is here.