Eat This

Cosmic Cafe: Willing to Mix and Match to Please You

When Wes Anderson and the Wilson brothers used to frequent the Cosmic Café (then called the Cosmic Cup), they could be found taking in the restaurants eclectic, Zen-inducing ambience, and maybe even conjuring up a plot or two. Former owner of the café Kumar Pallana can be seen in several of Anderson's films such as Bottle Rocket, Rushmore, The Royal Tenenbaums and The Darjeeling Limited. Hollywood aside, the restaurant has received ample attention locally and nationally for its vegetarian cuisine and has even been named best vegetarian restaurant more than a few times in the Observer.

Cosmic Café hasn't let all the hype go to its head, though. While the menu is modestly sized, it can be stretched to unimaginable proportions by simply asking. Pretty much any combination of any ingredients they have can be wrapped, topped, mixed, stir-fried -- you name it, and they'll do it. Also, every single item on the menu (with the exception of the spinach enchilada, as the spinach comes infused with cheese) can me turned into a vegan alternative.

We asked the waitress what some of the most popular off-the-menu creations were, and she promptly told us that many customers will order the dahl soup and add basmati rice, black beans and whatever fresh vegetables the kitchen has in stock. It makes for a hardy rendition of the traditionally simple lentil soup.

We couldn't decide between the falafel and the sprout of life pizza, so we asked the kitchen to conjure up a bit of a hybrid. We ordered the pizza sans mushrooms -- whole wheat flatbread topped with red onion, arugula, bean sprouts and Parmesan cheese -- and added tomato, falafel and yogurt sauce. It was out of this world.

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Catherine Downes
Contact: Catherine Downes