February 27, 2013

A Mixed Kind of Meal at Maté Factor

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Maté Factor Café is pretty easy to miss. It sits nested on the Ithaca Commons, and isn’t one of the more well-known establishments or go-to spots in Ithaca. That being said, it is certainly an eatery worth visiting.

Upon entering the café, I immediately noticed how unique the atmosphere was; I mean, there were actual trees in the corners. In fact, the entire place felt a bit like a treehouse or a woodland cottage. The rustic set-up is definitely complementary to the menu, though, as it is quite healthy and organic. I’m a vegan, so at times I can feel stuck with what to order when I go out to eat. However, Maté Factor’s menu is ideal for the vegan and vegetarian crowd, though all you meat-eaters out there won’t be disappointed, either. I ordered the tofu-avocado wrap which was a wrap featuring baked tofu and avocado, as well as their salad mix, green peppers, onions, sprouts, tomatoes and olives. I also asked for my wrap to be whole wheat, and added mustard, too. I found the dish to be incredibly fresh and satisfying. I also must compliment their generosity with the avocado; they put plenty in the wrap to satisfy my incurable avocado craving. They gave me the choice between coleslaw or organic tortilla chips with salsa as a side, and I chose the latter. Much to my dismay, the salsa was not very spicy, but I’m sure my more mild readers will enjoy it for this same reason It also definitely tasted fresh.

The menu also features a pretty extensive array of teas, coffees and lattes. However, I was more interested in the juice bar and smoothie options, of which there were equally as many. I went for the “Essentially Green” smoothie, which is a mix of blue-green algae, spirulina, orange juice, honey and almond milk (which I requested as a substitute for coconut milk). I also asked my waiter to add a shot of ginseng. I know the drink sounds bizarre and might be scaring off some of you, but hey, it’s extremely healthy and worth trying (you only live once!). Would I necessarily try it again? I don’t think so, as each flavor and ingredient was a bit too prominent and detectable, instead of tasting like a blended drink. But there are so many other types of smoothies on the menu (featuring everything from peanut butter and carob chips to pineapples and vanilla) that I want to try anyway, so I’m not too disappointed in my so-so experience with the “Essentially Green.”

My dining partner chose an equally healthy drink titled “The Works,” which was a mixture of carrots, apples, beets, celery and ginger. I wish I’d chosen this, too. The juice was obviously thinner and lighter than a smoothie, which just made it a better option as a beverage when ordering a (hearty) meal. Additionally, the flavors blended together much better than my smoothie’s, and left me feeling rejuvenated after just a sample sip (and envious of my friend for getting to finish it). As far as her main selection went, she chose the waffles, which were recommended to her by a friend. I’m not the biggest breakfast fan, but she had nothing but rave reviews for the whole-wheat waffles and fresh, homemade whipped cream, as well as the maple syrup (in which she drowned her dish).

Afterwards, I felt satisfied by my healthy, vegan dish, so I decided to indulge in one of their homemade vegan nut clusters, and my friend went for a carob brownie (we were hungry, okay?). I appreciated the option of a vegan dessert in general, but as far as taste goes, it was a strange mixture of stale and chewy. The carob brownie was softer and significantly sized, especially given the affordable price. In fact, the menu as a whole is very inexpensive, which is noteworthy, given how most of the dishes and drinks are fresh and homemade.

As a whole, Maté Factor is a fine place to spend an afternoon conversing with a friend over fine food. I wouldn’t recommend heading to this place for studying, as it is somewhat dimly lit (though I loved the interior otherwise), but to rejuvenate with some juice after hours at Olin? Absolutely. There are fish and meat options for you carnivores, the staff is very accommodating and the menu offers a lot of variety — many of them very healthy. I suspect I will find myself craving the tofu-avocado wrap again in the near future, and I certainly intend to work my way through the juice and smoothie section. Give Maté Factor a try, and join me! I’ll be sitting under the tree in the front corner.

Original Author: Meghan Flynn