Unfortunately, Raven Cafe, a popular restaurant in Prescott's charming downtown neighborhood, does not live up to the hype. Despite many rave reviews, I was totally disappointed in my experience at Raven Cafe.
Unfriendly staff, a limited menu, and a noisy rushed atmosphere are not what I consider to be a quality restaurant experience. Add in a management who could care less and you have an unbelievably poorly run business.
Raven Cafe serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The breakfast menu is small, consisting of a few basic selections like biscuits & gravy, quiche, and breakfast sandwiches. The vegetarian option is a Buddha Bowl, which is made of organic eggs
,cheese, avocado, and mixed veggies. Unfortunately, breakfast is only available to 11 or so. This is a shame as this was one of the few menu items I could eat!
Lunch/dinner includes sandwiches (GF bread available), appetizers (hummus plate, nachos, flatbread, calamari, wings, chips and guacamole, fries, and onion rings), and salads.
The Raven Cafe advertises itself as being an allergy friendly establishment with gluten-free, paleo, vegetarian, and vegan menu selections. Unfortunately, there was only one vegan entree - a veggie burger. There were a few more gluten-free items to be found on the menu, although some of the items were off limits due to cross contamination.
On a side note, we were told the nachos were gluten-free only to find out that they were fried in the same fryer oil! Also, they offer calamari breaded in a GF batter, however, due to the shared fryer this would be off limits to most following the diet. What is the point in offering gluten-free fried items if they use the same fryer? I recommend offering a separate fryer for these items so gluten-free guests can enjoy these foods.
There are a few entree sized salads topped with different types of meats, veggies, and cheeses, which would be great for gluten-free guests, however, not so good for vegans and vegetarians. Raven Cafe is not good with substitutions, therefore, you would be left with an unsatisfying salad at the same price as someone who gets all the ingredients. Taking out 1/2 the ingredients, yet still paying the same price, doesn't seem like a fair deal to me. Adding a vegan salad to the menu, especially when you advertise vegan options, would be a good start.
We transformed the nachos into a vegan appetizer by removing the cheese and sour cream, which left us with tortilla chips, guacamole, diced onions and tomatoes, and beans. Unfortunately we were told that they were gluten-free, however, it was clear that they were fried chips. The plate was decent, however, it could have been cross contaminated. In addition, it was a very small plate for the price.
The Raven's Veggie Burger is the only menu item which is dairy-free, meat free, and gluten-free. The burger was just okay - nothing special. It was served with a side salad.
While it is nice that Raven Cafe has several GF/vegan items on the menu, just one selection isn't going to cut it. Not everyone likes burgers. Many vegans and gluten-free diners would prefer a fresh veggie loaded salad or sandwich. Or a simple veggie pasta dish would do as well.
For a restaurant dedicated to being as Earth friendly as possible (as stated on their menu), they sure do lack healthy menu items. Almost everything on the menu is fried. If Raven is so dedicated to using fresh produce, organic when possible, why not include a few fresh, veggie based meal options?
Staff was very unfriendly and unhelpful. They knew absolutely nothing about allergy friendly options, despite the fact that the bottom of the menu specifically states to ask staff about allergy friendly options.
When asked if they offered any type of veggie sandwich, I was told that "whatever is one the menu is what we have." Most restaurants have been more than willing to customize a simple sandwich or salad, so it was really surprising that a restaurant that claims to be allergy friendly couldn't even make a simple sandwich.
The setting at Raven Cafe consists of a large dining area and bar. It is very crowded and noisy and feels much more like a bar experience than a meal out. The service also leans towards the bar environment.
When you arrive, you will scan the menu and order from the bartender. This just does not work with the number of crowds frequenting this place on weekends.
You will attempt to order with a line of customers piling up behind you, so don't bother trying to ask any questions as both the bartenders and customers behind you will be very irritated. What a bad set up!
When asked any questions over the menu, the bartenders just brush you off. If Raven Cafe is going to offer allergy friendly choices and specifically request you to ask the staff for options, they better be willing to assist you.
I recommend Raven Cafe invest in some new waitstaff and training protocols. Staff must be aware of allergy friendly options, if according to the menu, you are going to offer them by request.
Raven Cafe was one of the most disappointing restaurant experiences I have had in a long time. Horrible service, an extremely limited menu, a cramped atmosphere, and small portion sizes make this a poor choice for guests with food sensitivities and anyone else who prefers great service alongside a great meal.
Raven Cafe needs to add more allergy friendly items to their menu, in addition to hiring more dedicated & friendly staff, before I would ever step foot in their establishment again. There are many better choices in Prescott. Stay downtown, but pass on the Raven Cafe.