Next time you watch The Real Housewives of Orange County—it’s okay, we won’t tell anyone—don’t be surprised if you see the ladies sipping green juice cocktails and nibbling on Brussels sprouts sliders.
On February 10, the restaurant group behind Café Gratitude debuted a new, upscale concept eatery, simply called Gratitude, in Newport Beach. Like its sister locations in Los Angeles and San Diego, the new arrival is 100 percent plant-based and organic, but with an elevated menu and brand new mixology program to suit the chichi local crowd. The affirmations will still be there, just less front and center.
Why the big shift for the OC? “With all our restaurants, we try to think about what would make the most sense for the community where we are opening,” explains Lisa Bonbright, CEO of Café Gratitude parent company Love Serve Remember.
“We found that Newport Beach was the perfect setting to introduce an elevated version of Café Gratitude that offers a more leisurely experience than what you might find at the cafés in LA and San Diego. It’s a place where people can go for a long, healthy lunch or boozy brunch, but also to get dressed up for dinner and cocktails in the evening, which is something that feels in sync with how people like to dine in the area,” she says. And it makes sense given the all-around popularity of eating healthy that dining out that way should be offered at a range of culinary experiences, high, low, and to-go.
While some of the food options may look familiar, chef Dreux Ellis created an impressive array of brand new, seasonal dishes that will be exclusive to Gratitude. Many have an Italian accent—think white truffle ravioli with mushrooms and walnut pesto, or orange-scented eggplant “meatballs” served with sundried tomato marinara and cashew ricotta.
But the bar menu, masterminded by Gracias Madre’s Jason Eisner, might be the coolest part, with lemon drop martini snow cones, absinthe drips, and a two-person bowl of “Jungle Juice” (made with cold-pressed juice, natch).
As for the new digs themselves, the company’s longtime designer, Wendy Haworth, decked out the 4,300 square-foot bar and dining room (and adjoining 1,200 square-foot patio) in white brick and pale oak with a few French and Moroccan objets and touches.
And although at the moment there’s no avoiding the drive for Angelenos looking to get a glimpse of Gratitude, that may not be the case for too long. “For now, we are focused on the restaurants we already have open in LA and San Diego, but we do think that the concept could lend itself well to our existing Arts District location in Downtown LA,” hints Bonbright. Watch this space.
1617 Westcliff Dr., Newport Beach, CA, 92660, 949-386-8103, www.cafegratitude.com
Café Gratitude is also dabbling in organic beauty—get the scoop on the restaurant’s collaboration with LA-based retailer The Detox Market.