Thursday, July 14, 2011

Restaurant Review: Life Alive Cafe (Overcoming Redundancy)

The other night, I decided to check out self-described "urban oasis and organic cafe" Life Alive's Cambridge location with my vegetarian friend Amanda. Edible Boston had recommended it in their feature on vegan-friendly restaurants, so I had high expectations. As an academic, I don't believe everything I read... unless it's in one of the Edible Communities magazines. Eat locally, people!

Before I could eat at Life Alive, though, I had to overcome the redundancy of its name. I don't like redundant things. I'm always circling them on my students' papers and writing in huge red letters, REDUNDANT! just to shame them.

But maybe Life Alive wasn't as redundant as it seemed. The restaurant could have been named Life Dead (which sounds like the title of a depressing avant-garde art exhibit) or Death Alive (... zombies). I'll take my life alive over dead any day. Plus, their website told me that I was "entering a world of pleasure. A world of delicious, organic, and therapeutic food, created with love to feed your vitality."

I read those words and was convinced. I wanted to feed my vitality. And if I had to be redundant to do it, well, I would be redundant to do it.

The menu at Life Alive consists of salads, tortilla wraps, soups, smoothies, "jubilant juices," and "fresh fantastic food." Amanda is even more into alliteration than I am, so she felt compelled to order a meal from the "fresh fantastic food" listings. She got The Swami ("Our Sweet Curry Miso Sauce saturating a flavorful mix of tamari almonds, raisins, shredded carrots, broccoli, dark greens, and pearl onions over brown rice with a sprinkle of nutritional yeast").

All the menu items sounds like cards in a Magic: The Gathering game. The Mystic Mountain, The Goddess, The Innocent, The Alchemist... The Hot & Healthy Bachelor (?).

I went for The Sufi Poet because it sounded the most peaceful and because it was hard to resist the menu description: "Delight in our red lentil hummus whirling atop cranberries, cashews, cucumber, granny apples, shredded carrots, and spring greens all infused by our Balsamic Vinaigrette and we promise you'll be ecstatic!"

What a promise! We also got the Spring Alive smoothie to share: blueberry, strawberry, pineapple, mango, spirulina, coconut-milk ice cream, and almond milk. It was kind of weird because it had small chunks of dried mango in it, and they kept getting caught in the straw. It tasted pretty good, though.

When my Sufi Poet arrived, I was, as promised, ecstatic. It was the perfect size and all the ingredients tasted fresh. For dessert, I ordered a package of Liz Lovely snicker doodle vegan cookies. The only way the experience could have been any better would be if we had gone on a Thursday night, when there's (Life A)live music.

Overall, my experience at Life Alive was just wonderfully wonderful. The food was deliciously delicious and the atmosphere was a satisfying blend of earthy and crunchy. After that meal, my life felt more alive than ever (if that's possible).

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