Neat Loaf, Healthy Bread, and the Ookies at Silence-Heart-Nest


Apothecary: Silence-Heart-Nest, 3508 Fremont Place N., 633-5169. FREMONT

Time of entry: Sunday, 12:30 p.m.

Level of hangover (1–10 scale, with 10 being a paralyzing head-thumper): You know when that doozy of a fight is brewing between you and your significant other but there’s nothing you can do to stop it? Then you end up spending your precious Saturday night trying not to strangle each other while you attempt to work things out? The next day counts as a hangover right? In that case, a 9.

Level of waitstaff hangover: Uh, I’m guessing 0. Let’s just get this out of the way: Silence-Heart-Nest is run by the followers of Sri Chinmoy. All the waitresses wear saris and serene smiles, and if I can be honest here, it all feels a little cultish. Subsequent Google searches have revealed that I am not alone in that description of Sri Chinmoy and his group. But what do I know? One Google search does not an expert make -- and I did find videos of the guru lifting weights. The place is, at best, slightly off-putting. Not exactly what I would be looking for if truly hungover. But considering my state of mind, it was a welcome escape from my buzzing thoughts.

Prescriptions: Saris and Sri Chinmoy quotes on the table aside, I LOVED the food. The place is completely vegetarian (although I am not), but there's no denying the appeal of properly spiced breakfast potatoes and a scramble that had just the right amount of each ingredient -- in my case eggs, onions, mushrooms, spinach, garlic, and white cheddar. I chose the multigrain bread from Essential Baking Company. It’s the kind that looks gross, all grainy and healthy looking. But my goodness, was it tasty.

My dining companion went with the Neat Loaf sandwich: vegetarian meatloaf topped with BBQ sauce and served with mashed potatoes. It's apparently a very popular menu item (our bubbly waitress told us so). My friend enjoyed it thoroughly, and got quite a few curious looks from the surrounding tables. At one point, the guy at the next table over leaned in and asked, breathlessly, “I never do this -- but what’s that you’re eating?” We told him, but he decided against it, despite our enthusiastic endorsement.

A great thing about this place was that the despite how busy the restaurant was, it didn’t feel that way. We didn’t wait long for a table, and no one seemed rushed or harried. Must be all that meditation. Or perhaps it’s the walls, which are washed in a calming blue. Either way, the ookies we felt when we first walked in were all gone by the time we drained our coffee cups.

Hair of the dog: No alcohol, but the coffee here is exceptionally good.

Success of the soak: Good food in an atmosphere that provides plenty of conversation equals success.

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