Sacramento, CA 95815
The Green Boheme, formerly The Art of Food, feels more like a clubhouse than a restaurant, a gathering place where raw veganistas can greet each other with the secret handshake and partake of the uncooked sacrament.
The décor enhances the feeling. An oval wood dining-room table dominates half the space, several square brushed-silver tables occupy the other half. There’s a computer station in one corner being used by a fellow in a “Shastafari” T-shirt. A bookcase tucked behind it holds titles like Raw Food—Real World and Experiencing God. A blue La Jolla cruiser with basket leans against one wall. Mesquite powder, Tribulus terrestris and goji berries are sold at the counter. A nook is filled with a sofa, easy chair and coffee table, strewn with magazines. Various chalkboards display the day’s menu—hearts over all the “i”s.
Veganism is not an alien concept. Mrs. Lucas was vegan briefly before relaxing into vegetarianism. Raw veganism, as the name suggests, includes not only the eat-nothing-with-a-central-nervous-system no-no, but also a prohibition on cooking anything at temperatures above 118 degrees, which is the point where all-important enzymes writhe, scream piteously and start to expire. So when the menu describes the corn chowder as “warmed,” think “tepid.”
While “warmed” and topped with a colorful bouquet of shredded red cabbage, the chowder is bland and requires enlivenment by a torrent of Synergy Spice—a self-described blend of “garlic, onion, paprika, chipotle, white pepper, cumin, Mexican oregano, red salt and love.” Far more intricate and intoxicating is the lemony chili. It’s jampacked with cabbage, peas, celery, carrots and corn. There’s so much vegetable and flavor interaction, the sun-dried tomatoes are lost in the shuffle.
Despite knowledge of veganism, it’s halfway through the no-sea tuna sandwich before the realization dawns that the tuna-tasting concoction isn’t tuna. A paste of sunflower seeds and almonds blended with a dizzying array of spices, the chief chef informs. The cashew mayonnaise and mustard bring a lot to the party, as do the flowery sprouts. Pitching more of a taste-bud wang-dang-doodle is the Indian curry sandwich, whose apples are readily apparent but whose currants less so. A powerful kick of what tastes like Madras curry powder comes later. There’s enough curry paste; it oozes out the sandwich sides. Both sandwiches rest atop a blanket of fresh greens with shredded carrot and red cabbage. Management goes light on the dressing.
Richly deserving of its own paragraph is Green Boheme’s nut-seed bread, the anchor of its sandwiches. The slices are thin but stentorian, packing a complexity of flavors that is reminiscent of whole-grain but sweeter and more solid. To simply sample this magical manna is worth a visit.
The stand-alone salads, in large-size, are mountainous. There’s pesto pizza, marinara over zucchini pasta and nachos with sunflower “beans” and almond “cheese.” And for dessert: pomegranate/vanilla maca swirl cheesecake made from cashews. There’s an assortment of ice creams in a freezer beneath the menu chalkboard and, in a catty-corner glass case, fresh hummus and Green Boheme’s “wellness burger” in plastic to-go containers.
As for beer, it’s Reed’s ginger. Seems a rollback to Puritan times—they of the parsnip and pumpkin beer—would fit neatly into the milieu. Closest to alcohol is kombucha—the centuries-old yeast-and-bacteria fermented elixir that, in Green Boheme’s version, is 20 herbs brewed and cultured, then sweetened with beet sugar.
A lack of healing malt beverages is more than compensated for by the abundance of other beverage options from the kale, spinach, apple, grapefruit and ginger combination that is Green Juice to a nectarine, peach and banana smoothie. For a smoothie, it’s pretty darn chunky. Banana plays third fiddle, and chomping into a bit of date halfway down is a pleasurable surprise.
Somewhat pricey. “Warming” takes a while. But indisputably unique. And, like Green Boheme’s mantra reads: “All made with love.”