Last summer when our camping trip got rained out, the squeeze and I decided to have yet another “Staycation,” deciding this would be unlike any other: we would only eat, visit and patronize places we’d never been. This meant tapping into our list of places we kept talking about going, but never got around to, and also finding brand new places. Before we tucked away our computers for the weekend, I decided to Google “vegetarian Detroit” out of curiosity and one of the first to appear stood out to me: Golden Gate Cafe.
Maybe it’s because I work for a chiropractor on the side, but it intrigued me that Innate Chiropractic also is housed within the same building. All of this about a mile south of our house on Woodward.
Your first thought when you see the building and surrounding property is, “How did I never notice this before?!?!” It is the most colorful thing in the area by far, on the east side of Woodward south of Seven Mile Road. With reds, yellows and purples on its walls, interesting landscaping and — last but not least — a tree house in the back, how in the world did I not see this every time I drove north on Woodward?
The inside no less colorful and unique, a tall counter with stools sits off the kitchen in the back, with one table nearby for patrons. Though apparently dozens come out for Golden Gate’s weekly drum circles (I once gave directions to some guys at a gas station looking for it who had driven from more than an hour away for the Wednesday festivities), both times we went there, there were only a handful of people at best, which seemed just about right to all parties involved.
The place was only slightly different when we went last August than it was a few weeks ago. Their hydroponic wheat grass growing operation was a lot bigger then. This time, it took up a shelving unit by the east door, though there very well may have been more stuff hidden away somewhere.
The first time we came, I stuffed myself on some kind of curry and it was so delicious I tried to eat as much as I could, eventually surrendering and taking the rest home. I think on that trip D tried the millet burger they were trying out. I remember him liking it, but it wasn’t there when we returned.
Although I really, really, really wanted to get curry again, I decided to get something new. For such a small operation, you would think the menu would be limited, but there are all kinds of things to choose from, including soups, salads, all kinds of sandwiches, burgers, wraps, stir fries, smoothies, and whatever whacky special they’ve decided to create that day.
I decided to get the kale and sprouted lentil salad with Bragg’s dressing and the hummus plate, which included some vegetarian grape leaves and tabbouli along with my veggies. I don’t think I’ve ever had Bragg’s vinaigrette and I devoured this salad. If memory serves they get much of their produce from the community farming that goes on at the State Fair site not far from Golden Gate, but I can’t really remember the details.
D decided to get the lentil burger on special, which came with a small salad.
The most surprising part of our meal came with dessert. D and I usually stuff ourselves far too much to indulge in dessert, so I was kind of surprised when he asked if I wanted some and ordered the vegan banana ice cream. The waitress was new, so we were able to overhear an explanation of what it entailed: sending a frozen banana through a juicer and blocking the trap. OK, so I don’t have a juicer, and I can only sort of image what the “trap” is. If you have a juicer, try it. I couldn’t get over it and kept asking, “Wait, so this is really just a FROZEN BANANA?” I was sure she didn’t understand what I was asking. It was delicious. So simple.
OK, I won’t say what it looked like, but it really was good. Check out that cold steam coming off of it.
This is one of those rare places where you are guaranteed to have a unique experience and meet someone interesting every time you go there. I think I might need to ride my bike down there for some of this frozen banana goodness sometime soon… and by soon I mean returning before eight months goes by again!