This Is Newport Beach’s Hottest New Brunch Spot

The owners of California’s hottest healthful eatery shares their most popular brunch dishes with us.

We may earn revenue from the products available on this page and participate in affiliate programs.

Cafe Gratitude’s sister concept Gratitude has opened in Orange County, and in two weeks, it will welcome diners in Beverly Hills, too. The anything-but-crunchy cafe serves its organic, vegan fare in a beautiful room and also features a very contemporary cocktail menu. Interior designer Wendy Haworth’s modern bohemian interior and stunning patio features geometric cement tiles worthy of Morocco and the spaces are a perfect complement to the healthful vegan cuisines, which have a cult following.

We chatted with Chef Dreux Ellis to learn more about the new Newport Beach location, his daily routine, and his favorite brunch recipes.

Who is someone that inspires you in the culinary world?

Jeong Kwan the South Korean Buddhist monk is my hero. As a Buddhist and a chef, her philosophy resonates deeply with me.

The best part of what I do is…

Create food that is good for the planet, for our health, and for the animals.

My lunch routine consists of… 

One of our amazing smoothies or ripe seasonal fruit.

If I wasn’t a

chef I would be…

A Zen priest. Or a farmer. Or both.

I’m 10 times more productive when… 

I meditate daily.

My favorite cold-weather dish… 

Is risotto. Porcini mushroom and butternut squash if possible.

The best thing I’ve ever eaten… 

Are homemade orecchiette with cime di rapa, made by my Italian mother-in-law.

Where do you seek inspiration for the things you make?

I look to tradition. I am interested in food that has nourished people for generations, that is tried and true and I work from there. Sometimes it may require veganizing the dish or lightening it up, or perhaps contextualizing it in a slightly different way.

Describe a typical day in your life:

A typical day in my life is to rise at 5 am., do a 15-20-minute meditation, and then I head to whichever of my cafes needs me the most. We have five so it could take me anywhere from DTLA to San Diego. I am usually able to fit in either a yoga class, a swim or a weight training session most days. Dinner is very simple and mostly eaten at home.

“I Am Content” Greek Socca

4 servings

Garbanzo Bean Batter

Makes four, 5 ounce servings

Whisk together: – 2 cups Filtered Water – ¾ cup Garbanzo Bean Flour

Cover and let sit overnight or for at least 6 hours. The following day, skim off any foam that has accumulated on the top and whisk in:

– ⅛ cup Olive Oil – 1 teaspoon Salt

Cashew Ricotta

Makes 1.5 quarts

Blend together in a blender: – 3 cups Cashews (soaked and rinsed) – ½ tablespoon Salt – ¼ cup Lemon Juice – ¾ cup Filtered Water 


Makes ½ cup 

Finely chop together: – 1 Bunch Parsley (2 Cups) – 2 Cloves Peeled Garlic – Peel of 1 Lemon



– 1 tablespoon Red Onion – 2 cups Tomato, diced – 3 cups Spinach – 20 Kalamata Olives, halved – 2 tablespoon Gremolata


1. Prepare Garbanzo Bean Batter (at least six hours in advance until set). Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Put 4 personal-size cast iron skillets in the oven to heat.

2. Prepare Cashew Ricotta and Gremolata.

3. Remove cast iron skillets from oven and add 2 teaspoons of olive oil to each skillet. Combine the Garbanzo Bean Batter with the Farinata Ingredients and distribute evenly in oiled skillets. Bake in oven for 30 minutes.

4. Remove from oven and lightly separate Farinata from the bottoms of the cast iron skillets with a spatula. Garnish each farinata with a drizzle of Cashew Ricotta and a sprinkle of Gremolata.

“I am Fresh” Grilled Asparagus Salad

Serves 4


– 8-12 cups wild arugula – 12-16 heirloom cherry tomatoes, halved – 1 avocado, cut into cubes – Salt (If you can find an applewood-smoked salt, this can add a nice touch of smoky flavor) – 1-2 bunches asparagus, depending on size of the spears – Cold-pressed olive oil – 1 clove garlic, chopped – Hempseed Hollandaise Dressing (see below)

Hempseed Hollandaise

– ¼ cup water – ¼ cup lemon juice – 1/3 cup hemp seeds (shelled, also known as hemp hearts) – 1 teaspoon salt – 2 teaspoon whole black peppercorns – 1-2 garlic cloves (to taste) – 1/3 cup olive oil – ½ bunch of cilantro, rough chopped – ½ bunch of parsley, rough-chopped

For Hollandaise

Combine the water, lemon juice, hemp seeds, salt, black peppercorns, and garlic cloves. Blend together until smooth, then add in a slow drizzle of olive oil while the blender is running. Add the cilantro and parsley and continue blending, but do not over-blend—you want there to still be flecks of cilantro and parsley in the dressing.

For Salad

1. Assemble your salad base with the arugula, cherry tomatoes and avocado. Season with salt.

2. Wash and prep your asparagus. If you hold both ends of the asparagus and snap them in half, the asparagus will break exactly where it is meant to avoid any wooden stems getting into your salad. Grill the prepped asparagus on a barbecue or stovetop in a large skillet with a little cold-pressed olive oil chopped garlic and salt until it is lightly cooked and has nice sear marks. If you would like a softer asparagus, you could lightly blanch the asparagus beforehand and shock them in ice water to retain their color.

3. Arrange the grilled asparagus on top of the arugula salad and generously drizzle the Hempseed Hollandaise on top.

“I Am Awakening” Key Lime Pie

12 servings


Process in a food processor: – 1 cup pecans – 2 ounces date paste – ⅛ cup lucuma powder – Pinch of salt – 1 teaspoon vanilla water

Combine all ingredients, except vanilla, and process until evenly broken down. Add vanilla and process until mixed. Press into the bottom of a well-oiled 9” springform pan.


Blend in a small blender: – 1 cup lime juice – ¾ cup agave – ½ cup coconut milk – 12.5 ounces avocado – 2 teaspoon vanilla water – ¼ teaspoon salt

Add and blend: – ⅓ cup lecithin – 1 cup coconut oil

Pour the filling into a springform pan and set in the fridge or freezer until solid. Frost with 2 cups of whipped cream.


Check avocados for any brown spots. Do not use any brown avocado meat as this negatively affects the taste of the filling.

Read More:

How This LA Hotspot Inspired Our Weekend Brunch Menu Weekend Bites: The Recipes We’re Craving (And Making!) From Dimes Try These Recipes from Santa Monica’s Hottest Brunch Spot

Published on April 21, 2017