Cafe with a good cause
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Cafe with a good cause

Cafe with a good cause
Grilled chicken-pesto sandwich. Photos: Somchai Poomlard

It's not everyday that your meal comes with a healthy helping of social awareness. To my best knowledge, Dine In The Dark at Sheraton Grande Sukhumvit hires blind staff, while KFC employed deaf staff at three of their branches several years ago.

The Setting

In a similar way that these two examples try to lift stigma off marginalised groups and offer them work opportunities, Steps With Theera aims to show that people born with cognitive disabilities can work and contribute to society. Not only this unique venue functions as a restaurant but also a training centre to equip their staff/students with necessary skills so they have a better chance to go out and work in the real world. On a larger scale, they also aim to encourage other businesses to offer employment opportunities to people with special needs by showing what they can do. And, as the icing on this good-cause cake, they serve healthy recipes, too.

You feel right at home as soon as you walk in, thanks to the cosy earth-toned atmosphere and friendly staff. On your left are two big cork boards. One is covered with notes from happy customers while the other has stories of some of the staff and info on people with special needs.

The Menu

The menu gives info on each dish for those with dietary intolerance to avoid any adverse effects. Whether you have a soy or gluten allergy or are a vegan, they got you covered. My late lunch was off to a good start with Lentil-cauliflower soup (B155). It's a light and soothing soup with pulpy veggies that you can effortlessly enjoy. A hint of cumin tickled your nose with an aromatic touch while a vegan spinach whole-wheat bun offered homemade goodness with a slightly crunchy surface.

From their breakfast menu, I opted for Smoked salmon scramble (B265). The fish came though amid the fluffy egg with mild saltiness, while cream cheese cubes added just enough tang. The toast was audibly crunchy, too. You can also enjoy a CIY, as in choose it yourself, breakfast set from different options available from a scrambled or fried egg (B60) to two pieces of bacon (B80) to half an avocado (B70).

Fish pie with sweet potato mash (B255) is one of the best-sellers and rightfully so. It contains a chewy level of sweet potato mash atop chunky pieces of fish, as well as tender veggies underneath. Another delicious layered dish is Pumpkin-spinach lasagne with side salad (B240). You'll be digging through multiple levels of goodness with this one. The steamed spinach and pumpkin found between the rectangular pasta were tender but never too mushy and the top layer of cashew nut bits added some crunch.

Try the Grilled chicken-pesto sandwich (B300), which comes with sweet potato fries and salad on the side, if you want something to really sink your teeth into. The slices of chicken breast were cooked just right and dressed generously with the aromatic green sauce. The sweet potato fries were healthier alternative and had rosemary for added aroma.

Those who are big on desserts should save some room for pancakes and waffles. They are available gluten-free or whole-wheat while many toppings are on offer, including a range of dairy-free ice creams.

Pumpkin-spinach lasagne.

Insider's tip

If you have a hunch that Steps With Theera has something to do with Theera bakery/restaurant in Sukhumvit 42, you sir have won the satisfaction of being right! Steps With Theera is the brainchild of Uang Theeta, Theera's founder and owner, and Max Simpson, who has background in education and teaching kids at special needs schools. They partnered up to create Steps as a restaurant/training centre about a year ago. Uang studied bakery at Le Cordon Bleu but she isn't too shabby at all when it comes to savoury recipes. By the time you're reading this, they would be closed for New Year and will reopen on Jan 3.

Fish pie with sweet potato mash.

Value & Verdict

Steps With Theera is a good choice for those looking for healthy options. Equal opportunity eaters should find something they like from its diverse menu, as well. Not only are you guaranteed your vitamin intake for the week here, thanks to the healthy recipes, but also come away knowing you helped make a difference.

Smoked salmon scramble.

Steps with Theera

29/8 Ekamai 10,

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