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Slappy, your pie is ready
May 8, 2000

by Adam Cadre

I could have lived in Seattle, but the urban life isn't really for me: the idea of joining the throngs of humans barricaded in cement and strangled by a thick web of overhead cables was not an appealing one. Even Bellevue was a bit too citified for my tastes. No, I located half an hour outside of town, trading in crumbling cement for a ring of friendly mountains, pierced baristas for trike-riding kindergarteners, Broadway for East Lake Sammamish Road. Problem is, out here we're a little lacking in, well, stuff. Even when the stuff was elsewhere on the Eastside, that was a not insignificant haul. But now that the last comics shop in Bellevue has closed, and the kick-ass DVD rental shop in Kirkland is out of business, the eastern suburbs seem like an even greater cultural wasteland than they were when I moved here.

And, man, could we ever use some better restaurants.

Not that we're totally lacking in good places to grab a bite. Bellevue's got the Moghul Palace, Issaquah's got a terrific dessert shop, and the best calzones I've ever tasted are a 90-second walk away. Still, the pickings are slimmer than one would like. So you'd think that on those occasions that I did venture across the lake to Seattle, I'd be trying a different eatery each time. And I'd like to, at least in theory. In practice, I can rarely bring myself to decide against yet another trip to the Green Cat.

The Green Cat Cafe is on Olive Way between I-5 and Broadway. Perhaps this is why I've generally had good luck finding a parking spot: Olive Way is a fairly formidable hill, and few enjoy parallel parking on a steep slope. On the other hand, I do up my odds a bit by coming at off-peak hours. The few times I've come at a busy time--weekend mornings, or dead-center lunchtime--the line has snaked out the door (though since the counter is so close to the entrance, three people in line means the fourth has to stand out on the sidewalk.) The menus are battered slips of paper, a few of them laminated, crammed into a box by the counter, breakfast on the front (served all day), lunch and dinner on the back. Dinner starts at four; I've never come in later than 3:55, so someday I'll have to revisit this article with info on their evening selections. Assuming I can pass up the leftovers from breakfast.

One dish I find especially hard to resist is the Green Cat's tamale pie. The tamale pie alternates blue, red and yellow corn tortillas with a tasty blend of eggs and black beans which looks--well, it looks like cat food, actually. So don't stare at it--eat it! It's so delicious that every so often, even if I have no other reason to be in Seattle that day, I simply have to hit the freeway and order up a wedge. Topped with tomatoes, chiles, bubbling yellow cheese and mellowed with sour cream, it's one of the best breakfasts you could ask for and it's only five bucks.

If anything, I'd like to see that price hiked up a bit--if I could shell out $7.50 and get a piece half again as large, I'd spring for the jumbo without a doubt. On the other hand, the small portions do allow one to pack in a side dish. Of course, most all of the Green Cat's offerings come with an artfully arranged selection of fruit, never the same assortment twice: you might get slivered apples, some plump purple grapes, and wedges of pineapple one day, then return the next day for a thick cross-section of grapefruit topped with sliced banana and a couple helixes of orange. But there's still room for more. The potatoes certainly aren't bad, topped with gooey Tillamook cheddar, but a little goes a long way -- I usually end up with half the plate left over, and melted cheddar does turn to congealed cheddar before a typical meal is through. Perhaps something sweet instead? The Green Cat offers a terrific assortment of baked goods, with the chocolate chip and hazelnut scone topping my personal list. And then, there's always the possibility of a smoothie...

...which flavors do they offer, you ask? Well, only one, actually, and you never know what it is until it arrives. The base juice is apple, but the dominant fruit might be strawberry, blueberry, raspberry... there's really no telling. The first smoothie I had at the Green Cat was possibly the best smoothie I've ever had anywhere, texture, flavor, temperature all dead-on perfect. The second one, however, was like drinking a banana, and the third one seemed to be mostly ice. So you're probably better off going it alone for your smoothie needs. (My recipe: one part plain frozen yogurt, two parts frozen berries, two parts cran/raz juice. Blend till smooth. Thank me later.)

One problem with the tamale pie is that one casserole dish makes about a dozen pieces, so if you get stuck with piece #11 it may well show its age. So should you amble into the Green Cat on a late afternoon, I would instead suggest the Green Cat Sandwich, which is just beyond delectable. It's tomato, avocado, sunflower seeds and a scrumptious pesto on light rye, served open-face and topped with melted provolone. I'm not normally a big pesto person, but this sandwich made me a believer. I'd skipped over it on the menu any number of times, and only when my sweetie ordered it one rainy Thursday afternoon did I see what I'd been missing. And the following Tuesday, when I went back and tasted what I'd been missing? I could have wept.

So you place your order at the counter, be it one of the suggestions above, or the black bean chili, or the tofu scramble, or whatever strikes your fancy, and you fork over your money. Then what? Up two or three stairs, into the adjoining room. Find a table. This can be tricky on weekends. When you get your table--perhaps the one next to the print of Bouguereau's Nymphaeum--sit. Hope you brought a friend! Or at least something to read, because it's going to be quite a wait. So you wait. And you wait. And you wait some more. Eventually you hear your name. "Slappy?" (Assuming your name is Slappy.) "Slappy?" It's a scruffy guy with a tray, wandering dazedly from table to table. "Slappy?" Finally you catch his eye. "Over here!" The time has come to feast. And feast you do. Only later does it occur to you--hey, everything on the menu was vegetarian! That's right, Slappy--no meat in the place. But that's the thing about the Green Cat. The first thing you notice about most vegetarian restaurants is the fact that they're vegetarian. This is about the fifteenth thing you notice about the Green Cat. If it occurs to you at all.

Then, back down the freeway, back to the mountains, back to my apartment. And then to a hotel room. I don't let people named Slappy in my apartment. [HOME]

Awwwk! Word on the street is that Adam Cadre has a web site at and an upcoming novel called Ready, Okay!

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