To Seek Out and Serve

2006.Aug.20 Sunday · 0 comments

in Restaurants

“The ingenuity of self-deception is inexhaustible.”

– Hannah Moore

Restaurants are in the business of providing many things, among them a certain ambiance or theater, comfort, service, and, of course the reason most of us go, food and beverage. While it’s entirely possible for a restaurant to just be thrown together, the successful ones tend to have some sort of vision, mission statement, or philosophy that sets out a goal. It may not be written down, it may not be fully articulated, but it’s something that the owners and managers have in mind as they approach their daily tasks. Or at least, they ought to. This all came to mind because of an odd dichotomy that I noted when visiting Naturity, Lavalle 1901, in Once.

Naturity is a vegetarian cafe. Walking by it, it looks like nothing more than your garden variety cafe with a display of pastries and patrons drinking their cortados while reading the newspaper. But a moment’s pause allows you to read the fine print. Underneath the name of the restaurant it states rico y natural, delicious and natural. Each window and the doors have an emblazoned message – basically stating “at Naturity our philosophy is to seek out and serve only those foods that are natural and fresh, and are free of preservatives and artificial additives. It’s an admirable goal, and one that I quickly found was reflected in the food.

Naturity - roasted vegetable pizzaThe menu is a short one, as befits a small, corner cafe. It changes based on what happens to be available at the moment. When I visited, besides small pastries, the only items available were a salad, a budín de berenjena (eggplant bread), a chard tart, and a roasted vegetable pizza. My waitress strongly recommended the last of those, and it turned out to be an excellent recommendation. The pizza was topped with a delicious array of roasted vegetables – eggplant, peppers, tomatoes, zucchini, mushrooms, olives, and carrots, along with a variety of herbs, and a decent mozzarella. The crust was whole wheat with some added wheat germ and was tasty. Overall, the pizza could have used a bit more salt in the mix of things, but that’s one of the pitfalls of catering to a health conscious crowd, one has to err on the side of less additions like salt, and leave it to the patron to add to their personal tastes. Easily corrected, a saltshaker was on the table.

Now, here’s where the dichotomy comes into play. So much effort is focused on the food being offered, and making sure that it fits the mission statement, that quite simply, the beverages got forgotten. In this delightful little cafe, with good quality, more or less homemade food, also stands a large display refrigerator of Coca Cola products, another display of Ser beverages (sugar free, but containing artificial sweeteners), not a single organic wine offered out of the selection of a dozen or so, and non-organic coffee and teas. That’s a shame, especially as they’re all easy things to offer, should the owners decide to apply their “seek out and serve” mantra to the liquid side of their menu.

Nonetheless, I recommend the place – it’s one of the better “natural” pizzas I’ve had.

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