Dining review: A visual feast accompanies exceptional java at Switchback Coffee Roasters

By JL FIELDS jl.fields@gazette.com - Updated: February 22, 2017 at 5:31 pm • Published: February 22, 2017 0

They say we eat with our eyes first and I'll confess that I didn't expect to have such a visual feast at a coffee shop. But Switchback Coffee Roasters Café - formerly Fifty Fifty - is offering up nine food items, four of which are already vegan and three more that can be made so, that taste as fresh and bold as they look.

Finding vegan breakfast options at restaurants, diners and cafes can feel a bit like discovering gold, so I was particularly delighted to find the vanilla short stack ($10) is vegan. The three whole-grain cakes dense and the light, bright vegan cream, fresh fruit (kiwi and banana on the day I visited), and small side of maple syrup put the level of sugary taste in your hands. These are pancakes you can feel good about eating.

Switchback Cafe "Garden Toast" - avocado mash atop locally sourced rustique, rustic raw beet, heirloom cherry tomato, nasturtium flowers, house made citrus dijon sauce, sea salt and cracked pepper Thursday February 16, 2017. Photo by Jeff Kearney.  

Equally filling - if not more so - is the garden toast ($10). Before I go on - have you heard of "avocado toast"? It's been the culinary darling on vegan food blogs for years and various ways to serve it now show up in the breakfast sections of many new cookbooks. Simply put: you mash ripe avocado with a fork onto a piece of toast. From there, add anything you like. At Switchback, the avocado toast is not vegan (as it contains eggs and honey) but the garden toast is, and it offers up a balanced nutrition profile: whole grains and vegetables. The base is a thick, substantial piece of toasted bread. The verdant chunky avocado is plentiful and covered in vegetables (multi-colored tomatoes, beets and onion) and colorful edible flowers. A sight to behold.

If you're looking for a small plate, try the southwestern taco ($4). Soy chorizo is the meaty, vegan version of the traditional spicy sausage. It's got a great kick and the crunch of the cabbage and pepitas (pumpkin seeds) delivers a complex bite. And speaking of bites, one will be gone in two or three nibbles, so if you want these for lunch, order two or three tacos.

Switchback Cafe "Cozy Buddha Bowl" - freshly prepared quinoa, grilled sweet potato, seasonal curry vegetable hash, lemon chickpeas, rustic raw beet, seasonal greens, dill pickle kraut and house made adobo sauce Thursday February 16, 2017. Photo by Jeff Kearney.  

For an entirely nourishing meal, the Buddha bowl ($10) is a vegan cliché (in a good way). Buddha - or hippie - bowls hold three key plant-based food groups: beans, greens and grains. Switchback's version is amped up as the grain choice is a light and chewy quinoa that most assume is a grain but is actually a seed and - bonus - holds the nutrition profile of a legume (which is why so many consider quinoa a superfood). It's nestled in a large bowl with chickpeas, sweet potatoes and curried vegetables over a generous bed of leafy greens. Simply seasoned, the side of adobo sauce puts you in charge of the heat level (start small and build you way up to your spicy sweet spot).

Since these delectable plant-based options can be found at a coffee shop, let's talk java. Choose from hot ($2.50 - $4.50), iced ($3.50 - $4.50), and brew ($2.50). The cortado ($3.25) - espresso with an equal amount of coconut milk (add 75 cents) - is excellent with the pancakes. Non-coffee options include kombucha ($4), chai and matcha (both $4.50).

Brightly lit with ample space, Switchback Coffee Roasters Café is a great place to hunker down solo with a computer to get some work done or to visit with a group a friends, all while enjoying an exceptional cup of coffee and a solid variety of healthy, plant-based eats.

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