Vegans and vegetarians, rejoice. Slated to open later this spring in Broad Ripple, Ezra’s Enlightened Cafe (6516 N. Ferguson St., 317-501-7606) will bring the first all-vegetarian, “bee-gan” (containing no animal products except for raw honey) restaurant to the state. Owner and certified raw-food chef Audrey Barron and her team are working to finish constructing the cafe in a remodeled two-car garage attached to spiritual-gift boutique The Playful Soul. Ezra’s planned interior will mimic that of California health-food cafes, giving off a light-and-airy, beachy vibe. “I’ve wanted a place where people can come and feel really good when they walk in the door and about what they’re eating, so when they leave, they feel better,” Barron says.
Named after Barron’s 14-month-old son, Ezra’s Enlightened Cafe will feature a menu of sandwiches, salads, raw soups, and desserts, all made free of gluten, dairy, processed sugars, and animal products. But don’t mistake the lack of those ingredients for a lack of flavor. Dishes are far from boring and will include a raw fusion “Buddha Bowl” made of warm, cooked ginger quinoa and seasonal and local greens, all topped with a tangy garlic-lemon tahini dressing. Salad offerings, such as the Mediterranean kale and cabbage, a fresh combination of raw kale and cabbage in a creamy dressing with olives and capers, come with a side of homemade crackers. Indulge in sweet (but still healthy) treats like the rich and silky chocolate mousse, made of cacao, avocado, maple syrup, and dates. Patrons with a sweet tooth can also enjoy the rotating selection of herbal chocolates, including chewy mint-chocolate crunch fudge.
The cafe will boast a juice, smoothie, and elixir bar with nutrient-infused beverages whipped up fresh to order. Expect to try the After Glow, a juice blended with pear, apple, ginger, and greens, or the “Berry Bliss,” a smoothie chock-full of superfoods like acaí, blueberries, and goji berries. Nourishing herbal infusions will round out the beverage offerings and are prepared by steeping herbs in hot water, allowing for the plants’ minerals to soak into the water and restore the drinker’s natural mineral deficiencies.
Since Barron is a certified raw-food instructor, Ezra’s will also present monthly cooking classes where participants can learn to prepare dairy-free and gluten-free food, much like the offerings in the restaurant. Even before the Broad Ripple eatery opens, Barron and chef Allie McFee are giving sneak peeks with classes whose proceeds go toward funding the completion of the restaurant. A February class featured five courses of raw vegan desserts like banana-chip ice-cream sundaes and vanilla-strawberry crepes. Future class announcements can be found online.
Initial funding for Ezra’s Enlightened Cafe came from the community on Kickstarter.com, where Barron launched a campaign in Sept. 2013, raising more than her goal of $10,000 in less than a month. Financial backers on Kickstarter donated to help Barron purchase items like a commercial freezer and deli case.