I want Cafe Green to be awesome so badly, I really do. And they’ve got some great elements: good location, great niche (one of very few all-vegan restaurants in Washington, DC), good food, outside seating. Unfortunately, virtually every time I’ve gone there, it’s been a nightmare — the service is so horrible. That’s not to say that the servers are rude, it’s just that everything. takes. so. long. and that inevitably something gets messed up. This visit was no exception. We showed up at 11AM for Joel’s birthday brunch with a large party, probably 10 or so, and it was a mess from the start (note: I tried to make a reservation, but they don’t take them), when our sweet young server had a difficult time simply grasping our drink orders. At one point, one of our party told him what she wanted (some sort of smoothie) and he wrote something down, but then looked confused and asked what she’d said (so what the hell had he written down — a line of poetry that just occurred to him or something?). Anyway, everyone was really hungry, so we all ordered either a shake or a smoothie, so we’d have something substantial before our meals came. Joel and I both ordered the peanut butter shake, which, if fresh, is fantastic! A short time later, still no drinks, and we ordered our meals. I went with the Continental Breakfast, which includes a whole wheat pancake, tempeh bacon, breakfast sausage, tofu scramble, and a melon slice. We waited and waited and waited, and about 30 minutes, still no drinks, and our meals slowly started trickling to the table. It took about 15 minutes for everyone to be served, and though I was one of the last, my food was largely cold. The pancake was served with a side of syrup – logical, but there was a comically small amount of syrup in the side container I was given, like maybe a couple of teaspoons. The tofu scramble was underwhelming, and the tempeh bacon really needed to be smothered in a gravy or something, because it lacked flavor. It was a big bummer, because several of our party were not vegan, and this was a missed opportunity to wow them with vegan food (I will say that last time I went to Cafe Green, I got the breakfast burrito, and it was great). Finally, close to an hour after we’d ordered them, our smoothies and shakes began to arrive. Joel and I got our peanut butter shakes last, and it was clear that they’d been sitting out for a LONG time, as what we had was less “shake” and more “melted ice cream in a cup”. Super disappointing. The icing on the cake – the check was a disaster, and included a meal and a couple of other items that no one had actually ordered.
EPILOGUE: I will continue to eat at Cafe Green, because I won’t give up on it. I love this style of vegan food, and I want it in D.C. That said, Cafe Green clearly needs a tough manager, who can turn the place around and get it running like a proper restaurant, and some new ideas and recipes to make the food great. The folks at Cafe Green need to get a fire under their bottoms if they want this place to succeed, because unfortunately, my experience is not unique, the place is notorious for slow, poor service, and that doesn’t work in town like Washington. Please, Cafe Green. Please get your shit together.