*** Full Disclosure *** I am a friend to the owners of Borrowed Earth Cafe and as such I want people to know this before reading this review. I of course will try to maintain my objectivity while writing it but I enjoy their food as well as their company so be forewarned.
So with that off my chest let’s dig into the review.
Borrowed Earth Cafe is a small raw foods restaurant in Downers Grove, Illinois. I was initially acquainted with them a few years ago as I was searching for a great raw place to call home.
The heart of Downers Grove is one of those picturesque places that many people reminisce about from our past Americana. Borrowed Earth is set back away from Warren avenue in a unassuming mini mall. You might even miss it if you weren’t searching for it. Walking into the restaurant you are greeted by a sign “We don’t inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children” ~ Chief Seattle.
The interior of Borrowed Earth is done in warm colors that really invites you to go in farther. Danny and Kathy Living are the owners and they work to make each person feel at home while in their care. If you have questions about a particular menu item or even ingredients that go into making the dishes they are happy to share that information with you. Looking through the menu it strikes me that there is nothing to indicate that Borrowed Earth is a vegetarian, vegan, or even a raw vegan restaurant. I once asked them why they didn’t call themselves a raw vegan restaurant, their answer… they want their food to compare to any other high quality restaurant. So the intent is that the food should be great and compare favorably with any other place that you can eat at. So let’s see how they do?
After sitting down, our customary Virgin Mary wasn’t available but there are many choices of teas served hot or cold, with smoothies, coconut water, filtered water, as well as others to round out the drink menu.
We wanted to try one of their appetizers and settled on the cheese pirogies to whet our appetites. The kitchen is an open concept and as we were making our orders we also got to see how everything was assembled. The pirogies were made with a slices of fresh jicama filled with a cashew “cheese” that was flavored with peppers and plated up and displayed on top of some greens. This was delivered to us and after taking some pictures we dove in. What can I say but wow, I’m not sure what I was expecting but the crunchy jicama texture really paired well with the creamy and savory cashew “cheese”. The seasoning was done really well and as I was chewing all the flavor bits came together really nicely.
With the appetizer finished there was only one thing left to do, heckle the chef, I mean wait on the entrees.
I had ordered the special, Chili Relleno and my dining companion ordered the Sweet Potato Quesadilla. They both came to us displayed with a few different side salads topped with a beautiful green sauce that I mentioned a while back in my post “Hail the Kale”. The Chili Relleno is esentially a stuffed poblano pepper with a creamy thick paste inside. The Sweet Potato Quesadilla, came and the shell was a beautiful orange dehydrated shell folded over an interior of shredded goodness.
Sampling our food there are a few things that you have to get over, one is that most cooked stuffed peppers are soft while the Borrowed Earth version is crunchy. Fortunately they included a sharp knife to get though the pepper’s thick walls. Poblano peppers are on the spicy side of the pepper family and it added a nice heat to the dish without being overwhelming. The interior of the pepper was filled with a savory paste that when eaten in tandem with the pepper really paired well with each other. The side salads had many beautiful colors poking out with carrots in one, kale in another, and broccoli and cauliflower rounding out the trio. Each salad had a unique charm and really displayed beautifully.
The other dish the Sweet Potato Quesadilla, was also paired with a trio of salads. As I sampled the Sweet Potato Quesadilla I realized that this wasn’t going to be my favorite dish. I love sweet potato but it also is a bit starchy at times. The shell while done really well and made the the quesadilla a visual treat, the filling composed mostly of finely ground raw sweet potato was just a bit too much starch for my palate. I’m not sure if soaking the sweet potato would change that property. A good dish but definitely not my favorite.
After the meal we opted for some dessert and we were given a dizzying and tantalizing array of choices. Holding onto some restraint we choose only two desserts but we would have picked more had our pocket books been able to handle it.
Our two choices were a turtle cheesecake, and a raspberry cheesecake with a chocolate ganache. We were given some very healthy pieces of cheesecake which it was very difficult to take the pictures before diving in.
Both of the cheesecakes were heavenly with a light smooth texture that looked as good as they tasted. The raspberry cheesecake was a chocolate confection with beautiful fresh raspberries on the inside and out. The ganache was very chocolaty. Unlike an actual cooked chocolate ganache the Borrowed Earth version was soft though no less delicious.
Our stay at Borrowed Earth was too brief but we had a lot of fun reminiscing with Danny and Kathy as well as eating their food.
As I was preparing for this review I wondered what would happen if things didn’t go well. I’m happy to report that not only was the food amazing, the homey atmosphere really made us feel comfortable.
I would rate The Borrowed Earth Cafe on a scale of 1 to 10 a 9.5. Why not perfect? I think that the sweet potato quesedilla could have been dialed in just a bit more, however, I enjoyed eating and sampling everything and I’m sure if I had picked another dish that I liked more the score probably would have been maxed out. BTW my dining companion really liked the sweet potato quesedilla so it just shows how opinions can differ on matters of food.
I feel that the goal that they have set for themselves has been achieved and that the food they serve stands proudly next to any other food served.
I cannot recommend Borrowed Earth Cafe highly enough. You would be doing yourself an injustice if you didn’t check this place out at least once.
Where is this place?
- 970 Warren Avenue
- Downers Grove, IL 60515
- (630) 795-1729