South Side’s Amazing Café is Exactly That
The spot for “real food” shares its recipe for Bliss, a cinnamon-spiced chocolate cake.
Photos by Leah Lizarondo
I tend to exaggerate a little bit about my limited driving radius in Pittsburgh — bordered by Penn Avenue, Butler Street and Braddock Avenue. But the whole time I was at Amazing Café, enjoying its food, I kept telling manager Mark Staley that I wish the spot was in the East End. I said the same thing to my lunch date, Sherrie Flick, who lives in South Side. I wish she lived in the East End. I want more of this food, and I want to see more of her. Clearly, I have a driving affliction, especially if traffic gets in the way of eating and friendships. Mental note: discuss at next therapy session. Perhaps it all stems from childhood trauma in the preposterously gridlocked Manila, where I grew up.
It’s so hard not to use “amazing” to describe the food coming from Amazing Cafe’s kitchen, which is led by chef and filmmaker Justin Crimone and Staley. The café is adamant about using only real ingredients, but what makes the place awesome (!) is that it uses special ingredients. Natural sugars, housemade nut milks and butters — plus organic vegetables sourced locally, whenever they can.
We started the meal with smoothies. I had the Pura Vida — a raw cacao, banana and almond milk concoction amped up with some Maca powder (a supplement that supports the endocrine system). Sherrie had the Green & Glow — spinach, banana, apple, mint with almond milk with some triphala powder, which has cleansing properties.
Want to hear the coolest thing about the supplements? They add therapeutic doses, not “sprinkles.” For novices: YOU CANNOT TASTE THE SUPPLEMENTS. So don’t hate. It was like we were starting our meal with dessert. Oh, did I mention the bamboo straws? Such a refreshing upgrade from plastic and a testament to the café’s effort to use sustainable materials when possible.
We may be a few years behind California in the trend of using emotions and adjectives as nouns to name food, but how can you resist ordering some Faith and Grace? Or Strength, Balance and Courage? I’ll take them all. I have to say my Curiosity Curry hit the spot on a cold winter day. The squash, potato and kale stew with loads of warming spices over black rice was just what I needed. The Spontaneity Rolls were delicious, too. Made with ground walnuts and cauliflower, rice and a creamy cashew sauce, rolled and wrapped in lightly steamed collard leaves, it was filling yet light at the same time. To end the meal, Sherrie and I shared some Bliss. Yes, we did. In the form of a cinnamon-spiced chocolate cake with a coconut-hazelnut chocolate frosting and date caramel. Chased by HAND-PRESSED espresso.
Again, why isn’t Amazing Cafe in the East End?! (#Biased)
Fortunately for me, the staff appeased me by sharing the recipe for Bliss. Who doesn’t want a little Bliss? If you want an introduction to baking with all-natural, whole-food ingredients, this is it. Make some in your kitchen, or hightail it to the South Side and get a slice.
Amazing Café is run by the folks at Amazing Yoga; it’s located at 1506 E. Carson St.
Cinnamon-spiced Chocolate Cake
Recipe courtesy of Amazing Café
All the ingredients can be found at the East End Food Co-Op, Whole Foods or online.
- ½ c date sugar
- 1 c coconut palm sugar
- 1 ¾ c sprouted whole-wheat flour
- ¾ c cacao powder
- 1 ½ t baking powder
- 1 ½ t baking soda
- 1 c almond milk
- ½ c coconut oil
- ½ c olive oil
- 1 T vanilla powder
- 1 t cinnamon
- 2 T ground flax seeds
- 8 T water
- 1 c boiling water (to adjust consistency)
1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
2. Combine flax seeds and water and let set for 30 minutes.
3. Mix all dry ingredients in a large bowl.
4. Mix both oils, flax slurry and whisk into the dry ingredients.
5. Add hot water ¼ cup at a time until the batter can be “poured.”
6. Fill a tray that can fit a 9×13 pan ⅓ of the way with water. Place pan on tray with water.
7. Bake in an oiled 9×13 pan for 20 minutes.
8. Let cool completely.
Coconut Hazelnut Chocolate Frosting
- ½ c coconut oil
- ½ c cocoa powder
- 1 c palm sugar
- 3 T mesquite powder
- ½ c hazelnut milk
- 1 T vanilla powder
1. Place all ingredients in a high-speed blender.
2. Add hot water until it’s of spreading consistency.