Tag Archives: outdoor dining

“I am Thankful” for Cafe Gratitude

28 Jul

I always try at least one vegan/vegetarian/raw spot whenever I’m in LA. I found Cafe Gratitude through a Google search. It’s on North Larchmont in LA, a short walk from the main part of Larchmont Village which is full of quaint shops, and outdoor dining.

There’s a large outdoor patio where dogs are welcome and treated to a bowl of fresh water upon seating. The scene is very casual, perfect for a low-key brunch or lunch. They serve alcohol too (hallelujah). The menu is partly raw, and partly cooked. Everything is 100% organic and vegan. Produce is from “Be Love Farm”, their farm in Vacaville, CA.

Outdoor Seating area at Cafe Gratitude

Our server, had a huge head of coiled up dreads, and a soft-spoken voice. After Husband and I ordered, she asked “Today’s Question” which was, “What do you love to give?” Of course, you can imagine the Beavis answers THAT conjured. For a second, I stared at her vacantly wondering if I was supposed to answer, and then she was gone, presumably placing our order.

We ordered the “I am Accepting”, ironic considering I wasn’t feeling very “accepting” at the time. Perhaps if I’d eaten two portions I would have felt differently?  Our dishes arrived looking gorgeous with vibrant green kale and sprouts. I felt healthier just looking at it. It just goes to show its the QUALITY of ingredients that really counts. Look at what you can do with amazingly fresh, locally sourced, organic food, and the simplest preparation! This “sushi” bowl even got a thumbs-up from non-vegan Husband.

"I am Accepting" - "Sushi" bowl with raw kale, cucumber, avocado, nori, and fresh herbs, quinoa, spicy wasabi ginger sauce, topped with sprouts and kimchee.

I asked for hot sauce and of course, they make their own. LOVE that!

Cafe Gratitude's Homemade Hot Sauce

I was dying to try one of their smoothies. Despite being full, I couldn’t help myself. The server recommended the “I am Cool” so I got one to-go. And no, I didn’t order it because I just wanted to say that I’m cool. I was impressed how much it reminded me of a mint chocolate chip milk shake. However, the consistency was very thick, almost chunky, with constant hard bits of cacao that had to be chewed. Although I enjoyed the taste, I couldn’t take the consistency for too long and ended up pitching it halfway through.

"I am Cool" smoothie Mint chocolate chip "milkshake" with Vitamineral green and raw cacao

Of course, we couldn’t leave without one last Cafe Gratitude thought-ism. This card arrived clothespinned to our check. We didn’t do it.

Note that came with our check

As we were leaving, I spotted a guy wearing aviators and casual workout gear. It was none other than, Jake Gyllenhaal. He ordered a smoothie (I couldn’t hear which one), hopped back in his Mercedes, shook hands with a fan through his car window, and was off.

Conceptually, I respect and applaud what Cafe Gratitude is doing and wish there were more restaurants that did the same. I’m a fan of any place going against the grain with a new and different experience. However, the way it’s all packaged together was too over-the-top, touchy/feely for my taste. Each dish on the menu is named something like, “I am Extraordinary”, “I am Courageous”, “I am Luscious”, you get the idea. So when you order, you have to say, I’ll have the “I am Accepting” and the “I am Cool”. Not really my cup of tea. I couldn’t buy into but hey, that’s why the world is great right? We don’t all have to like the same things, but I can appreciate that they’re doing something unique.

There’s one thing you can’t argue. The food is fresh, tasty, and I left feeling nourished by a healthful meal. And really, that’s what us Food Buffers care about right? Good food, not trendy scene? And hey, if it’s good enough for Jake, it’s good enough for me.  I’ll definitely be back to try some of the raw food and smoothies. I am Thankful for Cafe Gratitude!

Cafe Gratitude

Casual, vegan, raw, organic

Starters – $6-$12/Entrees – $7-$13/Sides – $1.50-$3.00/Juices & Smoothies – $3.00-$9.00/Desserts – $2.25-$8/Beer & Wine -$5-$9 (glass), $21-$28 (bottle)

639 N Larchmont Blvd, Los Angeles, California 90004

11am – 10pm 7 days/week

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Vegan in LA: Susan Feniger’s “Street”

19 Jan

Day 16 – Hitting Mainstream

Another amazing dinner out in LA! I’ve wanted to try Susan Feniger’s Street, an asian-inspired street food restaurant for quite a while, but never made it until now. I made a reservation on Open Table after calling in advance to confirm they had vegan options. The reservationist was so friendly and said “Absolutely, there are definitely options. Be sure to let the server know when you arrive and they can help you with the menu”.  This got me pretty jazzed because as much as I love pure vegan food, I was ready for something other than tempeh.

Upon arrival, I reiterated my dietary handicapability to the host who indicated she’d tell the server. We were seated outside at a lovely table in the back. It was pretty dark back there so the tables came equipped with flashlights (well except our’s so I stole one from the table next to us).

I told the server I was vegan and with a big smile she happily helped me navigate through the menu. A number of dishes could be made vegan if they weren’t already.

First things first, get me a drink! I ordered a tamarind based margarita which was scrumptious.

Next, the Mandoo Vegetable Dumplings were crispy little pillows of goodness. Asian vegetables, sweet potato and kimchi filled dumplings with roasted ginger yam and sesame dipping sauce (YUM!). Totally satisfied my gyoza craving. I think we’re 1 or 2 short in this pic because yet again, I dove in without thinking. You’ll notice a pattern here.

Next, the New Jerusalem Bread Salad (without feta). A chopped salad with chickpeas, persian cucumber, tomato, and parsley, topped with cumin toasted olive bread drizzled with warm sumac oil and fresh lemon. This was similar to the traditional chopped salad I’ve ordered at Lebanese and mediterranean restaurants. Soooo fresh and delish. They were happy to prepare it without the cheese but oddly, it showed up with a hard-boiled egg as a garnish. Clearly, someone missed the memo. Unless maybe one of the chickpeas laid it?

For our main entrees, the husband got the chilled soba noodles (with orange, sesame, mirin, chile, and soy). I had the Thai Rice Noodles (flat wide rice noodles with Chinese broccoli, (no seasoned pork), tomato, mint, Thai basil and chiles. The server kindly asked if I wanted tofu instead of pork – so thoughtful.

The soba noodle dish was nicely flavored with the citrus/sesame combination, but the overall texture was a bit mushy for me. I liked the Thai Rice Noodle dish but wished there were a few more noodles. Perhaps I’m just used to the bad Thai in NYC that is 99% noodle/1% vegetable.

We also got a side of sautéed brussel sprouts (with apples and hazelnuts, no goat cheese). I was a little disappointed when they arrived shredded since I prefer them halved or whole.

The food was good, but for me, the service is what really stood out.  I was so surprised how helpful and accommodating they were; I must be a scorned NYorker because I felt like asking why are you being so nice? I think some of their “star” dishes were probably the meats, but I was still pleased with my dinner and even more thrilled to have a change of pace to eat at a non-vegan restaurant. Thanks Street for a fun night out!

 

Vegan in LA: Naturewell smoothies & Bar Hayama Sushi

17 Jan

Day 15 – I’m at the halfway mark!!

Today I’m celebrating a mini-milestone. I’m halfway through my 30-day vegan challenge and can honestly say, I am proud. Thank you friends for all the support! Who knows this could become semi-permanent. OK, onto the good stuff…

I want to share a couple experiences so far in LA. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m obsessed with the Kale Coconut Smoothie at Naturewell (see my 1/10 post here). So it was the first stop on my hit list. I’ve already been there twice in two days and it’s just as good as I remembered. My husband who is not a huge green smoothie fan, even loves it. A guy who works there previously recommended the Orange, Ginger, Carrot juice (which isn’t on the menu). It’s fab and when I make it at home I find I don’t need a coffee because the ginger really wakes me up.

The menu below shows their unique assortment of both juices and smoothies. These don’t come cheap… we are pigs and supersize our smoothies so they’re a whopping $7 a pop but sooooo worth it.

And here she is… introducing the lovely, bright green, sweet and fresh, Kale Coconut smoothie I’ve been bragging about. Blog readers, meet Kale Coconut. Kale Coconut, meet blog readers.

It actually is sweet and you get more coconut/banana flavor than anything else, but the kale adds an herby/woodsiness that makes it taste so refreshing. Even if you think you’ll hate it, I’d encourage you to try it, you’d be surprised how delicious it is. You can definitely make this at home with kale, coconut water, young coconut meat, cinnamon, banana and agave nectar. I haven’t gone to the trouble of digging out young coconut meat from the shell yet, but I may have to because I can’t wait until my next LA trip to have this smoothie again.

We also took Simon (our pup) on a two-hour hike up Griffith. I always feel healthier in LA. Fresh air and sunshine makes Chelsea a happy girl.

Simon was exhausted post-hike and napped all afternoon.

Next up…dinner.

I had a sad revelation this weekend. I can add sushi to the “things I miss list”.  We usually hit Matsuhisa every trip to LA but to spend that kind of money on veggie rolls seemed like a waste. Besides, I dream about their baked crab hand roll and I couldn’t torture myself by going and not getting it. The W Hotel concierge recommended Bar Hayama. They have a huge outdoor fire pit and tons of outdoor heating lamps (not that it’s really necessary when it’s 60 degrees out, wussies).

The food was fine, nothing outstanding, but it satisfied my sushi craving. We worked up quite an appetite from the hike. I had sake, edamame, vegetable dumplings (server confirmed they were vegan), cucumber roll, vegetable roll, and natto hand cut roll. This was my first dinner out in LA so it was a nice way to slowly dip the toes into dining out as a vegan.

I would have more pics but I was starvin-marvin and didn’t realize I hadn’t taken any until it was too late (sorry). This was the only pic I managed… the veggie roll and cucumber roll. Clearly, I need to upgrade to the iPhone 4 with a flash.

The server at Bar Hayama was very sweet and didn’t roll her eyes or snarf when I told her I was vegan which I really appreciated. That’s it for now, more LA updates to follow!

Naturewell

3824 W Sunset Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90026
Neighborhood: Silver Lake

(323) 664-5894

 

Bar Hayama
1803 Sawtelle Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90025
Neighborhood: West Los Angeles

(310) 235-2000

Matsuhisa
129 N La Cienega Blvd
Beverly Hills, CA 90211
Neighborhood: Beverly Hills

(310) 659-9639

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