‘Whole food’ café debuts downtown

Food doesn’t need to be complicated in order to be good, owner says

“Simple” crops up repeatedly while interviewing Meghan Rodger, the owner of one of Whitehorse’s newest cafés.

A simple, uncluttered space, with calming pastel colours; simple but delicious food; a simple raison d’être: Plant-based fare that’s accessible for everyone, regardless of diet, and, by extension, while indulging in Caesar salad or an acai bowl, you’re doing a solid for the planet.

“My main reason for being plant-based is environmental and just where the planet’s at today with the climate crisis,” Rodger said. “(I’m) just trying to make an impact for the better in any way I can. Eating plant-based is the number one most effective way to reduce your environmental impact, so that’s kind of where it all comes from.”

The Kind Café opened its brick and mortar shop on Sept. 12. It’s situated in a business and government area — looking east down Hawkins Street, you can see the front doors of the legislative assembly.

Rodger skirts around calling it vegan. That plays into her wanting the space to be within reach of everyone passing through. Eggs and dairy milk are available, too, so it’s not a space for purists anyway.

She doesn’t want to push her views on anyone. That’s not what Rodger grew up with, being a born and bred Yukoner. She does however lightheartedly concede to what she calls “a subtle influence.”

“I don’t want this place to be known as like ‘the vegan café’ or ‘the gluten-free café,’” she said. “I just want it to be healthy, whole food that anyone can enjoy, so I guess I don’t see it too much as me entering that kind of scene. I know that it’s a niche, in that it’s healthy food, but I don’t want it to be seen as a narrow kind of market, like I’m just targeting anyone that’s interested in their health and impacting the world for the better.”

The actual food itself doesn’t need to be layered with frills in order to be good, Rodger said.

“I don’t want people to feel shame or guilt because of the way they eat. I just want you to realize that healthy food that’s simple, fresh and whole can be easy and delicious and you don’t need to overcomplicate things.”

Take the Carrot Lox Toast item that swaps out salmon. It’s on sourdough from Alpine Bakery with the classic, tasty fixings you’ve come to expect. As a whole, it’s as simple as it ever was.

“This one’s super popular,” she said. “You’ll have to try it. I marinate the carrots in kind of a smoky marinade.”

The café doesn’t have an espresso machine. This could change eventually, but not having one was intentional. Rodger wanted to put the food first.

“If I get into that eventually, I want to do it right, so we’re just starting simple.”

She can steam milk — plant-based included.

Listening to Rodger describe what she makes some of her drinks with calls to mind Dr. Seuss.

“We have a lot of specialty drinks with medicinal mushrooms and a lot of super food powders.”

Take the Mushroom Mocha, a blended mix of cacao, hemp seeds, almond seeds, medjool date, and, of course, medicinal mushrooms (among other things.)

“I find, like, when you go to get a fancy drink it’s always pure cane sugar at Starbucks or whatever, so this is a similar taste but way healthier,” she said.

There are smoothies, too, five of them. Kombucha is available.

There are some spaces available to sit and eat. It’s small, which encourages customers, particularly during the lunch crush, to grab and go.

Rodger said it’s a breakfast and lunch spot.

It’s open Monday to Friday, 7 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Contact Julien Gignac at julien.gignac@yukon-news.com

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