Fill in the blank: The best thing about Cosmic Café is...
...a deck of Tarot cards at every table.
...unlimited mugs of soy chai.
...delicious plates of all-veggie food, whose prices all add up to multiples of nine. (We don't know why. We asked our waitress, and neither did she...but in Tarot, nine symbolizes completion of a cycle.)
If you've been there, you know the answer: All of the above.
At first, I didn't want to write about Cosmic Café because it seems far too obvious. Ask for a veggie place in Dallas, and the colorful little institution is one of the first that comes to mind. For years, they've been serving up the same wonderful vegetarian fare to the tune of flutes and sitars in the brightly-painted house on Oak Lawn; for years, vegetarians have been seeking refuge in plates like "Herban Renewal" and "Raisin Consciousness."
Since the Observer's luxurious offices are just down the street, several of our employees are devoted to certain favorite meals. Merritt loves the "consistently awesome" Portabella Trance, a naan sandwich stuffed with sautéed mushrooms, spinach and onions, cream cheese and tomatoes. For Michelle, a flexatarian, there's Buddha's Delight, a sampler plate of curried vegetables, dal (lentil soup), naan, pappadams, rice and a samosa served with mint sauce and tamarind chutney. Mine is the "dal & nan & garden of silence," a salad, soup and bread combo that's light enough to let me drink all the soy chai I want.
Last Friday, we huddled on Cosmic's porch, sipping steaming cups of chai and playing an odd combination of Go Fish and Bullshit with our Tarot cards. The men, meat-eaters both, ordered pizzas. Michelle and I got our respective usuals. The real reason I was there, though, was cake!
In the course of veganism, I've become separated from my former life as a dessert hound. I always want a cookie. Always. But vegan baked goods are hard to find, and I haven't mastered the art of replacing every egg, tablespoon of butter and chocolate chip in my favorite recipes with Ener-G egg replacers and applesauce. So while I love Cosmic for its food, atmosphere, music and tea, I had a desperate craving for cake,
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And they have it.
Of five options, we sampled two: coconut and "lemon bliss." The coconut is classic--moist, fluffy white cake with sugary vanilla icing. Lemon bliss is a little less traditional. OK, it's a lot less traditional. For one thing, the cake itself turns out hard and dense, kind of like those fruitcakes people use as doorstops. The icing comes in vivid green (avocado, our server explained) and chunky like peach preserves. On top sits a somewhat formidable pile of shredded coconut, garnished with strawberries. Weird, yes. But whether I just hadn't had cake in ages or "lemon bliss" truly deserves its name, I devoured the whole thing.
As usual, moderation was not in my cards.
2912 Oak Lawn