I realize that this is my second restaurant review with The Lady Beautiful, and both restaurants I’ve reviewed happen to be vegan (with a vegetarian add-ins!). I am not, in fact, a vegan. But, I appreciate the lifestyle and love the cuisine for its health benefits, as well as its concern surrounding the treatment of animals and the environment. Also, a plate of rainbow goodness is a nice way to counteract my affinity for brown and yellow carby, cheesy, starchy everything. Right?
The Sanctum Cafe
The Sanctum Cafe boasts “real damn good food” across its t-shirts and social media. And it is no lie. As someone who recently failed at the chickpea cookie dough recipe everyone’s talking about, it’s easy for me to turn squeamish at the thought of traditional staples manifesting themselves through unassuming veggie-filled vehicles.
That is not what The Sanctum is about. They are not out to trick you with Morningstar patties and oddball fake-out versions of Applebee’s entrées. Yes, you can get “caulfredo” and “tempeh-walnut meetballs.” But, the tribe of the Sanctum Cafe are here to immerse you in a colorful garden of textures and flavor-combinations that are “unrefined, mostly organic, made from scratch and sourced from the best ingredients [they] can find.”
And did I mention the atmosphere? My God. The atmosphere. Tucked away on Fern Creek Avenue, this beautiful establishment in blanketed in stunning murals and has windows adorned in logos that make this graphic designer want to dance with joy. It’s hip and upscale, but not standoffish. Inside, there is a charming bakery display of delicious vegan treats, plenty of seating for an often-packed house, and the bathrooms come with savvy bulletin boards decoupaged in local flyers for amazing nearby businesses and events.
We sat outside next to a fence beautifully speckled in veggie-art, and were happy to order a delicious French press in the rare cool Florida breeze. I ordered a tummy-warming carrot soup to start which was brilliantly seasoned. I then had the polenta cakes which came with a hint of coconut flavor and made for an exquisite culinary experience with the red cabbage slaw, organic corn, avocado ranch, sriracha, and black sesame seeds. The portions are plenty. More than enough. Service was divine: attentive, resourceful, and kind without any sense of pushiness or rush. Even the water in its tall glass pitcher for the table looked pretty.
If you’re out for a well-rounded, culture-filled, delicious and healthy experience, The Sanctum Cafe is for you. I can’t wait to get back and try out dinner menu.
Chelsie Savage: Owner & Chef
I had the true honor of connecting with owner and chef, Chelsie Savage (also a Holistic Health Coach and Yoga Instructor) to find out that there’s more than meets the eye when it comes to this incredible restaurant. Here’s what she had to say.
When did The Sanctum Cafe open?
What inspired this restaurant and menu? Did you draw from personal tastes or past experiences?
The Sanctum is how I like to eat and how I like to cook for my family the majority of the time. A big bowl full of goodness with lots of vegetables, usually a grain & some type of protein – smothered in a yummy sauce or two! Flavors are pulled from foods I love & inspire be…. everything from things I used to eat as a child to flavors and ingredients from all different types of cuisines. The concept was untraditional for the Orlando area but it’s how I like to eat and I figured if I like to eat this way, other people probably do too!
What’s your favorite item on the menu?
My spicy rosemary dressing – I eat it every day.
Do you partner with any other local businesses (i.e. coffee, artisans, etc…) ?
Yes! Golden Hills Coffee roasts our OUTSTANDING coffee…. we buy our eggs from Lake Meadow, we buy produce from Fleet Farming, Frog Song Organics, Sugar Top Farms & Waterkist… We buy our tempeh from Old Florida Tempeh in Gainesville, milks from Dakin Dairy and our honey from Willful Honey! We buy as much local as we can!
Have you found Orlando to be a good place for your business?
Yes! Orlando is on the brink of an awakening to wanting healthy & fresh food but the industry is not yet inundated. What we’re offering is new & unique to them and they’re hungry for it, big time!