It was my friend Zonia’s birthday today and I was taking her out to lunch to celebrate. We were headed to a restaurant called Plate in Malibu right on the Pacific Coast Highway. It’s located in a non-descript strip center that it shares with a health food market, but it has a glorious view of the Pacific Ocean. As we park the car and walk toward the restaurant, we both stop and take in a deep breath of that salty, ocean air. Ah, we’re relaxed already! I’ve been to Plate several times and I keep coming back for that simple reason, the food tastes really good.
The restaurant is not very big, and the decor is minimalist and zen-like. The entire front of the space is glass with an unobstructed view of the Pacific Ocean which naturally enhances the dining experience.
I’m an iced tea aficionado, so I’m very impressed with their exotic selection of organic iced teas. Zonia ordered the raspberry, and I got the ginger pear. I’ve never seen tea served like this before, but the tea steeps in a little pitcher and then the waiter pours it over the bottom pitcher of ice. Next time I would share the drink with another person as it’s certainly enough for two, and because it was expensive.
I’m a burger girl. If I had to pick my last meal, it would be a burger and fries. But like everyone else these days, I’m trying to make healthier choices and eat less red meat, sooooo I opt for the turkey burger (pictured above, $12.50). It was just as satisfying as any beef burger I’ve ever had. The burger is charbroiled and topped with fresh, organic lettuce, tomato, peppers and avocado. Buns are important, and this one was perfect as it didn’t fall apart as you ate the burger. Their fries are fried in rice oil and they were light and crunchy.
Plate touts itself as healthy and organic, and that was evident in the curry chicken salad ($12.00). Everything tasted so fresh. The spice of the curry, the sweetness of the papaya and the bitterness of the greens was a lovely layering of flavors, and the toasted croutons added a nice textural contrast. You can tell I really liked this dish.
So what’s a birthday without cake. You didn’t think we were going to leave without dessert did ya? Their rendition of flourless chocolate cake was light and not too sweet, and nicely plated as well. A great ending to a very enjoyable lunch.
The service at Plate was professional and attentive. Parking can be a problem at other restaurants along the PCH, but there is plenty of free, rooftop parking. It’s stress-free dining at it’s best. Plate is opened seven-days a week for breakfast, lunch and dinner. I appreciate that they use natural, organic and locally harvested ingredients; free-range chicken, cage free eggs and meats from known sources. Come on people, if you’re dining out, these things should be important to you.
Plate, 22601 Pacific Coast Highway, Malibu, CA 90265 310-317-6800
The buzz was out on the streets, and I must have been told by at least 10 people in the past several weeks that I needed to try a new restaurant in Woodland Hills called Leo & Lily. Although it’s a densely populated area, Woodland Hills in the west end of the San Fernando Valley is by no means a dining mecca. In fact, from my perspective, it is in dire need of good tasting food. So, I assembled my crack team of enthusiastic food aficionados (Gail and Amy) and decided to pay Leo & Lily a visit and find out what the brouhaha was all about.
The restaurant itself doesn’t sit directly on Ventura Boulevard, but slightly off, maybe about 500 feet. That’s great because the entire front is a lovely outdoor patio with plenty of seating, and you avoid all the fumes from the traffic along the boulevard. There’s lots more seating inside the restaurant, which is warm and welcoming.
Since it was an unusually cooler day in the valley, my team and I decided to dine on their outdoor patio. As I glanced over the menu I was surprised how ambitious it was, as they serve breakfast, lunch and dinner. (You can peruse the menu here.) We began our lunch with the sweet potato fries ($3.50) and the portobello mushroom fries ($3.95). The sweet potatoes were good, but for my taste I would have preferred them a bit crispier and with a touch more seasoning. The portobello fries however, were some of the best tasting stuff I’ve ever had. The outside had a crunchy, perfectly seasoned exterior with big pieces of flavorful, portobello mushroom inside.
We were greeted by owners Guy and Maureen Zaradez who were working their way through the patio area making sure that their customers were happy and being taken care of. Guy was telling my group how he’d been in the restaurant business most of his life. He explained how his goal was to bring healthy yet affordable dining to his customers, serving freshly baked breads and pastries, as well as making most everything else in-house. You could see that they had poured their heart and souls into this venture.
Our entrees arrive, and they are beautifully plated. We’ve ordered the sirloin steak sandwich ($11.95) which comes with an asiago cheese and onion jam on a whole wheat ciabatta, along with a tasty side salad. The steak is thinly sliced, and the sandwich achieves a great layering of flavors.
For Gail, the vegetarian in the group, we ordered the L & L Veggie Chopped ($10.95). This large salad comes with chickpeas, tomato, red onion, cucumber, red pepper and ricotta cheese with a creamy tahini dressing. All the vegetables were fresh and crispy, and the salad was so generous, that she had to take some home.
The last entree that we ordered (pictured at top), was the smoked salmon plate ($10.95). Our server tells us the the salmon is smoked in-house. It was tender and buttery and served with red onion, capers and cream cheese. It comes with a Jerusalem bagel, a crispy, sesame encrusted bread, which is something I’ve never had before, and really enjoyed.
Having enjoyed our lunch so much, we decided to finish off the meal with something sweet since Leo & Lily make all their desserts in-house. We ordered the raspberry breton ($3.95) and the flourless chocolate cake ($4.95). Having been wowed by the presentation of the entrees, I guess I was a bit disappointed that the desserts were just plopped on a plate. A dollop of whipped cream and a few raspberries would have gone a long way to make the dessert feel more complete.
Having been opened only 5 weeks so far, it seems Leo & Lily have worked out practically all of the kinks. The service was efficient and extremely friendly. There was sufficient parking in their lot as well as street parking, so we didn’t have trouble accessing the restaurant. But most importantly the food tasted great. I enjoyed the casual atmosphere as well as the thoughtfully prepared dishes. Leo & Lily, welcome to Woodland Hills, we’re glad to have you.
Leo & Lily, 22420 Ventura Boulevard Woodland Hills, CA 91364 (818) 222-6622
I just love getting out of the San Fernando Valley. It’s been my home for over thirty years, but there is a wonderful world that exists beyond Ventura Boulevard. One of my favorite neighborhoods to go to is Los Feliz. It’s like being in a 1940′s film noir. A place where you might have expected to find Robert Mitchum walking the streets wearing a felt fedora. I love the architecture of this neighborhood, original 1930′s and 40′s buildings mixed in with 1970′s strip centers. I was spending the afternoon with my friends Amy and Gail and we decided to try out a place for lunch called Vermont Kitchen & Bar.
The restaurant has a very cool and funky vibe. The building is from the early 1940′s and had originally housed Sarno’s Bakery & Italian Restaurant. The interior has so much character with it’s exposed brick walls, arched ceilings and columns. For lunch they have a fairly large menu offering sandwiches, burgers, brick-oven flatbreads, salads and both large (entree size) and small plates. To start with, our server Cody suggested that we try the Ahi Tuna Tacos ($13), with cumin-avocado puree, jicama slaw and served in taro root shells. The dish comes with 6 small tacos which was perfect for three people to share. I loved this dish; the ahi had tons of flavor and the taro root shells were a delicious departure from the more conventional tortillas. I will order this dish the next time I return.
For Gail, the vegetarian diner, we ordered the veggie burger ($11) with grilled red onion, tomato, avocado and roasted red pepper sauce. I split this with her, and I definitely did not miss the meat. The veggie patty was moist and the onions added a great layer of flavor. It also came with a little side salad.
Cody suggested that we try one of their brick-oven flatbreads and we chose the Wild Forest Mushroom ($14), with sauteed leeks, cheese sauce, white truffle oil and Parmigiano Reggiano. We all enjoyed the fresh and earthy combination of ingredients and they nailed the flatbread. It was a very satisfying dish.
If you’ve read any of my previous blogs, then you know I order fries with every meal. We ordered the combination of sweet potato fries and hot and skinny fries ($6). These had a real kick to them, and I gotta say I loved ‘em!
Vermont Kitchen & Bar 1714 N. Vermont Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90027 323-661-6163
Plunked on a corner right on Melrose Avenue in the heart of Hollywood, is a perfect little neighborhood gem called the Larchmont Grill. The restaurant resides within a beautifully restored Craftsman home which seems strangely out-of-place amid a sea of retail businesses. The neutral color palette, crown moldings and fireplace give this spot a very warm and homey feel. On the first floor is a small but comfortable bar and a dining area, but I was wowed by the second floor that’s used for private parties and special events. The space is tastefully decorated, and even boasts an outdoor “porch” area. Co-owner Mark Donofrio, who told us he opened the Larchmont Grill three years ago, was kind enough to give my friend Kim and I a tour of the restaurant.
The menu is diverse offering a nice selection of “comfort food” style dishes with a modern spin. Mark told us that the restaurant grows its own vegetables in a garden near downtown that they share with several other restaurants, as well as purchasing produce from a local farmer’s market.
Since I try to have fries with every meal, we start with the sweet potato fries ($6) that come with aioli, malt vinegar and ketchup to dip them in. I enjoyed the variety of dipping sauces as each sauce gave the fries a completely different taste. As expected, we finished them before the other dishes even arrived.
Kim and I both enjoyed their take on crab cake sliders. They were moist and flavorful and came on the tastiest homemade brioche buns with a chipotle aioli. And yeah, we got more fries.
With six salads to choose from it was hard to make a choice, since they all sounded really good. We went with the Barbecue Chopped Chicken Salad ($15) and it did not disappoint. It was a great combination of flavors with tons of chicken chunks, and the tortilla strips gave the salad a yummy crunch.
They take the classic American club sandwich and add medium-seared ahi to it. Though a tasty sandwich, the ahi didn’t shine through for me because it get’s overwhelmed by the bread. I would have rather tasted all those beautiful ingredients they use instead.
But the breakout star of the day had to be the side dish of Brussel sprouts in a balsamic reduction. They were sweet, crunchy, and earthy with just the right amount of carmelization on them so that they just melted in your mouth. We couldn’t finish them, but they were not going to be left behind. I took these home in a box to be enjoyed later in the evening.
The service was friendly and efficient. Both servers took the time to tell us about the dishes and how they were made. I appreciate a knowlegeable staff. If you give the Larchmont Grill a try, let me know what you think, I’d love to hear!
Larchmont Grill 5750 Melrose Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90038 323-464-4277
Pho heaven’s sake, why did it take so long to get authentic, gourmet Vietnamese food in the west end of the valley!!! But let’s count our blessings that it’s finally here. Chef Kimmy Tang is the culinary force behind 9021PHO, her Vietnamese bistro that opened in Westlake Village a mere 4 months ago. Her flagship location is in Beverly Hills, and she plans to open a third very soon in Culver City. The space is open and contemporary. It’s very zen-like on one hand, yet exudes a warm energy, much like Chef Tang herself.
When we ask Chef Tang where she trained, she tells us she is entirely self-taught. She said that she had opened her first restaurant called Michelia in 2001, but that she closed it 7 years later. She explains to my friend Gail and I how she traveled throughout Europe and Asia for several years, honing her culinary skills and expanding her horizons before opening the Beverly Hills location in 2009. We watch her as she buzzes from table to table, making sure her customers are happy and well taken care of. So let’s talk about the pho.
Pho, (pronounced fuh) is a traditional Vietnamese soup, with French and Chinese influences. She offers versions with beef, chicken, tuna or shrimp. Since Gail is vegetarian and we’re splitting it, we order the Pho Chay ($8.95) made with tofu, straw mushrooms, onion, baby corn and rice noodles in a vegetable broth. This serving was certainly enough to serve four diners. The broth is light and fragrant with star anise being the most prominent of the spices flavoring it. The big pieces of tofu don’t make you miss meat at all, and the bok choy still had a nice crunch to it.
9021PHO boasts a rather large menu. It offers everything from a selection of appetizers, salads, noodle and rice dishes to seafood and meat dishes. Since we wanted a little taste of everything, we both ordered one of the lunch specials ($9.95). It came with a crispy, crunchy egg roll, soup, a slaw type salad, rice and a dessert all within a bento-style box. I ordered the panko-crusted sole, and it was excellent. The best part was the French, spicy aioli that Chef Tang makes fresh everyday. The fish was moist and flavorful on the inside, and had a perfect golden, brown crunch on the outside. I couldn’t finish it so I brought the rest home. However, when I walked in the house I popped the left-over in the microwave…and it was gone.
Gail the vegetarian ordered the tofu with onion, bell pepper, eggplant, straw mushroom and baby corn in a black bean sauce. They also offer a choice of jasmine rice or brown rice. Our server told us that every day the special comes with a different dessert. Today’s dessert was a cold dessert soup of red beans and coconut milk. I’ve never tasted anything like this before.
Pho people who enjoy their coffee drinks, the iced coffee is a must. The Vietnamese coffee has a deep, bold flavor; it’s mixed with condensed milk and served over ice. It packs a real punch, in fact as I write this, I’m still buzzing from it.
I think Westlake Village has a real winner on it’s hands. It’s obvious that Chef Kimmy Tang cooks with both her heart and her soul. In a sea of pho restaurants that dot the city of Los Angeles, her flavors are more refined and elegant than most. I for one welcome her to the valley. If you give 9021PHO a try, I’d love to hear what your impression was. Tell Chef Kimmy I said hello!
9021PHO - 30990 Russel Road, Westlake Village, CA 91362
When Noreen and I asked the woman behind the counter at Charlie’s Pantry in Studio City, what is your must-have dish, she told us it was the sweet potato tater tots. Well girlfriend wasn’t lyin’. These tiny, little nuggets which come with two dipping sauces, have a little crunch on the outside, and a soft texture on the inside, and no grease whatsoever. We couldn’t stop eating them until they were gone.
Charlie’s Pantry has been opened only a scant three months, but I have a feeling they’ll be around for a long time. This lovely bistro is part restaurant and part gourmet market offering specialties from around the world. It’s bright and airy, and we felt as though we were dining in a good friend’s backyard as we sat at the large picnic table in the center of the room.
Charlie’s Pantry offers a substantial lunch menu of freshly made soups, salads and sandwiches. I love my comfort food, so we decide to start with the Man’s Grilled Cheese sandwich. It comes with apples and walnuts, is charcoal grilled and slathered in rosemary butter and drizzled with a port wine reduction. You get the creaminess of the cheese, tartness of the apples and crunch of the nuts all in one bite, BUT it’s the rosemary butter that sends this sandwich over the top.
To counter balance the carbs, we decide to order the Palm Beach Salad. For me, this was a perfect combination of flavors. The chicken breast that was crusted in almonds was moist, the organic greens were fresh, and the fennel, cranberries and toasted almonds added the sweet and crunchy to the dish. The orange citrus honey dressing only enhanced the salad without over whelming it.
Having tried one of their sandwiches and salads, we thought we should give a soup a try. We order the matzo ball soup which is an overly generous portion. For me, matzo ball soup is the ultimate in comfort food. This broth lacked that rich, chicken flavor I was hoping for and the matzo ball was dense and meatball like; not light and airy like my yiddishe mama’s. Sorry Charlie, this dish fell short for me.
At this point, Noreen and I look up at each other and start to laugh because we can’t believe that two, five-foot women were able to consume so much food. But everything is so good that we feel dessert is in order. Charlie’s Pantry offers a nice array of homemade desserts from tiramisu, cheesecake, cookies and pastries. However, we spy the beautifully colored French macarons displayed in the case and decide that’s the direction we should go.
These cookies were a lovely ending to a great meal. They were light and chewy and not overly sweet. Perfection.
Charlie’s Pantry offers a breakfast and lunch menu, and a deli case filled with a mouth-watering selection of homemade delicacies. It was also easy to get to as there is underground, valet parking and they validate. Yay! A real bonus in LA, right!
Charlie’s Pantry 12265 Ventura Boulevard #101 (in between Coldwater & Laurel Canyon), Studio City, CA 91604
The sign on the front of Raphael Restaurant, on Ventura Boulevard in Studio City, said lunch from 11:30 until 2. When we opened the front door to the restaurant at 1:55 looking to be fed, we expected owner Arnon Raphael to send us packing. Instead, we were greeted with a very warm and welcoming hello, and told we could absolutely get a table.
I was looking forward to coming here as I had read that Adam Horton, formerly of The Saddle Peak Lodge, one of my favorite restaurants, was the executive chef. When you enter the restaurant you are immediately charmed by its sleek and sophisticated decor. Owner Raphael told us that his wife had designed the interior that boasts warm woods, stone, and stunning lighting fixtures that add to the overall dining experience. One side is the elegant but casual dining area, and the other side is a rather spacious and comfortable bar area.
My friend Kim and I were seated at a lovely booth right in front of the window. We were greeted by our server Joslyn, a Cameron Diaz look-alike, who was extremely friendly and professional. For me, the servers seem to set the tone of the experience, so, I could see we were off to a good start. Raphael has an extensive wine selection, serving 50 wines by the class. Kim chose a Santa Barbara, Pinot Noir, and I went with the Italian, Pinot Grigio.
Raphael describes their menu as “world cuisine”. I like that. I like to be able to enjoy tastes from all around the globe at one table. Their lunch menu is limited; 4 salads, 4 sandwiches and 5 larger plates as well as several side dishes. This is never a problem for me. I don’t need a huge selection to chose from, I just expect that the few dishes a restaurant does offer should be done absolutely perfect.
The sandwich we chose was the Scottish salmon with capers, red onion, dill Havarti and a luscious ramp aioli on a soft, sesame seed bun.
When the dish arrived it appeared a little “bare”. Nothing, no garnish, no accoutrements, visually I thought it needed a little “something”. Well that being said, it didn’t really need anything. The salmon patty was so full of flavor and cooked perfectly. The combination of the elements on this sandwich didn’t require anything to spruce it up. It was perfect just the way it was. We did however, order the fries which were crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside. They were a great compliment to the salmon. When I return, I will absolutely get this dish again.
For the salad we chose the Som Tam Thai, a visually stunning dish of green papaya, tiger shrimp, lime, peanuts, chile and cilantro. I don’t handle the heat well, and this dish was a tad too spicy for me. Next time I would ask them to turn down the heat a bit. The shrimp were big and meaty, not over-cooked which happens so often with shrimp in salads. The flavors were authentic, as if we were having this dish in a Thai street market.
They offered 3 choices for the dessert, none of which appealed to Kim or myself. Joslyn said that the pastry chef would like to make us a dessert that wasn’t on the menu. Wow, that never happened to me before, they are eager to please at Raphael.
We were presented with a trifle of fresh strawberries and lemon garnished with strawberry meringue kisses. It was tart and light and luscious, the perfect ending to our meal.
Raphael is the caliber of dining that you tend to find “on the other side of the hill”. It’s smart and well done, and offers you the whole package in terms of ambiance, service and cuisine. I’m so glad they’re in my neck of the woods.
Raphael 11616 Ventura Boulevard, Studio City 91604 ( In between Colfax & Tujunga)
Until recently, when you went to a food court in any mall in America you were greeted by the usual suspects; Cinnabon, Subway and my personal favorite Hot Dog on a Stick, just to name a few. The food is cheap, fast, and processed. Well, America has cried out for justice and it seems their voices have been heard. May 20th saw the opening of The Market in the Santa Monica Place Mall, just off the Third Street Promenade. I didn’t know what to expect, but was pleasantly surprised by this modern, open and airy space that adjoins the 3rd floor dining deck that’s also home to six restaurants.
For me it’s a brilliantly conceived idea. The space houses these independently owned shops offering everything from fresh baked goods, flowers, organic coffees, skincare items to a cooking school. The shops are not enclosed but open, allowing the shoppers to wander in and out of each space creating the feel of an outdoor marketplace.
These vendors are selling products that are organic, artisanal, sustainable, fairly traded, seasonal, and locally grown. That’s a lot of adjectives, but that’s how I love to shop. My friend Marci and I make our first stop at Rockenwagner Bakery because, duh…I love bread. We’re greeted by a very friendly and hospitable Hans Fama Rockenwagner who offered us a sampling of their pastries. We tried several of their sandwiches served on their artisanal breads, and purchased some bread and cookies to go. Their breads are fresh, hearty and full of flavor. This will be my first stop when I return for my next visit.
It was impossible to walk past L’Artisan du Chocolat without stopping in. They offer up their stunning chocolates and macarons made fresh each day at their Silverlake location. Their chocolates are made with no preservatives and less sugar, and come in an array of unusual flavors.
The chef behind Primi Al Mercato is Piero Selvaggio of Valentino Restaurant in Santa Monica. What I found most intriguing about this spot was the two women making fresh pastas right there in the window for shoppers to view. You can purchase these pastas in the retail space, or walk next door to a lovely dining area to enjoy “small plates” of pasta and fresh sauces. Personally I have not found too many places in the Los Angeles area where I could buy such unusual, freshly-made pastas.
I am a true coffee lover, so we had to make a stop into Groundwork Coffee Company. Their coffee and teas are organic and fair trade, and I definitely like to support retailers who offer fair trade products. We purchased some of their “Black Gold” to go!
Norcino Salumeria Cheese Bar is also operated by Piero Selvaggio. Serving charcuterie plates of the most amazing selection of high-quality, imported meats and cheeses, this is a must for my non-vegan friends. For me this place is a decadent treat!
I like to give nice wine as a gift, and Venokado had a great selection of fine wines and champagnes to choose from. They also offered a large selection of modern gifts.
Once you’ve purchased your wine, your dinner, your coffee and dessert at The Market, your last stop should be to Magical Blooms. This vibrantly designed shop offers creative, one-of-a-kind floral arrangements, as well as floral design classes.
And finally, not only does The Market offer its visitors a gourmet shopping and dining experience, there’s also a cooking school in the space as well. Gourmandise School of Sweets & Savories offers 3 and 4 hour cooking classes, chef demonstrations and special events. As a culinary school graduate, I can say I never tire of taking cooking classes and their’s covers a wide variety of topics.
I love to dine out and I love to try everything on the menu. Just ordering a single entree is boring to me. I like a little protein, some carbs and lots of veggies. So when I saw the menu of “small plates” at Santa Monica’s newly opened The Misfit, I thought this is probably the restaurant for me. The Misfit is the creation of LGO Hospitality, and is located in the historic Clock Tower Building just around the corner from the 3rd Street Promenade. There’s a sprawling bar that runs the length of the restaurant serving $9 signature cocktails that sounded amazing. I was unable to give one a try because it was only noon time after all, and I was driving, but I will return for their Happy Hour. The man behind the menu is Executive Chef Bruce Kalman, formerly of Chelsea’s Kitchen in Phoenix.
I was dining with my friend Zonia, and we decided to throw caution to the wind, and just let it rip! We started with the French Dip Sliders, ($12) tender prime rib, perfectly seasoned, and served with a homemade au jus. It totally melts in your mouth and was the perfect size for two.
Our server suggested that we try the Ahi Tuna Burger ($11). I’ve ordered this in many other restaurants and it tends to come out dry and tasteless. Their’s is served pan seared medium rare with a Meyer lemon aioli and avocado. It was so juicy, cooked just right and full of flavor.
As we glanced around at the surrounding tables, we noticed everyone had ordered the shoestring fries ($6). I wasn’t leaving this place without them, and I’m glad I didn’t. These were addicting, crispy not greasy and yummy dipped in the honey mustard sauce. Plenty for a table of four!
However, for me the real hit of the day was the English & snap peas with toasted garlic and Thai basil ($6). As Chef Kalman told us, they purchase all their produce from the Santa Monica Farmer’s Market. The peas must have been picked that day. The dish is prepared so simply and the flavor and freshness of the peas shined through. I would return just for this dish.
I was awestruck at what Chef Kalman could do with vegetables. We ordered the heirloom cherry tomatoes with toasted garlic and herb salad ($6). Again, he allows the tomatoes to be the star of the dish. It’s simply dressed and the garlic and herbs are the perfect contrast to the sweetness of the tomatoes.
For my vegetarian friends I would recommend the spicy chickpea dish ($9) because it’s killer. I could definitely see becoming a vegetarian if I could eat things like this all the time. The chickpea mixture has a real kick to it that you feel in the back of your throat. It’s served with kale leaves, and we composed our wraps with a dollop of chickpea, some cucumber and radish and dunked the whole thing in the pesto sauce.
When you’re serving fresh, high quality ingredients there’s no need to go crazy with sauces and spices. It’s evident that Chef Kalman respects his ingredients, as everything was seasoned with a delicate hand to simply enhance what was on the plate and not overpower it. Not everything though was a winner. Neither Zonia nor I enjoyed the sauteeed greens with blood orange and garlic chips. It happens.
It should also be noted that the service was warm and friendly and very efficient. We felt our business was appreciated. In the ever changing restaurant landscape of Los Angeles, I think The Misfit will do very well.
The Misfit Restaurant + Bar 225 Santa Monica Boulevard, Santa Monica, CA
Beginning in 1924, Culver City was home to the famed MGM Studios. Like many of LA’s neighborhoods it lost it’s glow and faded from the spotlight. But, like an aging Hollywood starlet, Culver City got a facelift and it’s definitely made a come-back. As we drove down Culver Boulevard, I marveled at the juxtaposition of upscale restaurants and boutiques against the classic 1920′s Spanish architecture. You could almost see Clark Gable and Judy Garland strolling down this wide boulevard.
I was with my friends Amy and Gail, and at Amy’s suggestion we decided to try a restaurant called Akasha. Built in 1925, the building that houses this restaurant was formerly the first hospital in Culver City. Immediately I’m excited to be here, and as we entered my eyes dart around the restaurant noticing all the vintage features of the building that have been thoughtfully restored.
The food preparation is as thoughtful as the building restoration. Their ingredients are organic, sustainable and obtained from local growers. I have several friends who are vegetarians, and this would be the perfect place to bring them, as they offer a large selection of deliciously sounding vegetarian dishes. However, today I’m dining with the non-vegetarians. As we always do, one of the dishes we order is the Lemon-Chicken Cobb. This was especially good as the Niman Ranch bacon was very meaty, adding a lot of flavor to the salad that was dressed in a very light, lemon vinaigrette.
Amy ordered the House Pork Belly sandwich normally served with arugula, avocado and tomato chutney. She, however asked to have it prepared with melted gruyere cheese and caramelized onions. It was one of those melty, gooey, full of flavor sandwiches that came with a side of black bean soup . She appreciated that the chef was willing to make the change for her.
I caught a glimpse of the Tandoori Chicken Salad at the table next to me, and decided to order one for myself. It’s prepared with fresh, local greens,and cashews, tossed in a light chutney dressing, and topped with a pappadom (a thin, crisp, Indian flatbread). That’s a salad I would order again, and again.
I always like to support a business that strives to offer the customer the best product they can. That’s very evident at Akasha. They’ve built an entire restaurant that’s environmentally friendly, they support local growers and serve creatively prepared food. The food won me over, and I’ll be back!
Akasha, 9543 Culver Boulevard, Culver City, California 90232