It began years ago. Aloft in New York, I’d fly down to Los Angeles for family and friends… but not for the restaurants. STREET almost changed my mind. I’ve checked in periodically over the years, the menu in a constant flux of evolving blends of modern and traditional street foods. But it has finally come to a beautiful fruition the newest menu revision. Focused on small dishes and with a heavy nod to vegetarians and vegans, STREET is now totally worth a cross country flight… but now in my case, a 20 minute drive.
The Garden Chopped Salad ($10) is the most mundane item of this meal. With romaine, grilled zucchini, tomato, green beans, fresh corn, kidney beans, asparagus and fresh mozzarella and roasted jalapeño-basil vinaigrette, it’s a fresh opening act to what is going to be a fantastic trip.
If a chef wants to win me over, they just need to give me flower. STREET’s Date + Kamut Fritters ($6) do just that. Crisp and mild, the fritters bloom in the punchy yogurt and date sauce; but it’s the scattering of roasted rose petals and almonds that make me want to change my FB status to: “In a relationship with Date + Kamut Fritters.” On my last visit I ordered this dish vegan; the yogurt was supplemented with a vegenaise sauce. Absolutely nothing was lost in translation.
The enduring STREET mascot, Kaya Toast ($12) is always a must. Everyone I’ve forced to try Kaya Toast peers at this dish with skepticism or disgust. The stacked squares of toast stuffed with super sweet coconut jam are easy to understand (although it make me wonder why I’ve never had a coconut-based grilled cheese sandwich… yet). The dipping sauce that makes ‘em squirm: soft fried egg drizzled in dark soy and white pepper. The runny yolk is punched by the hardened bread, bleeding into sweet and salty puddles. You’ll be fighting for the last bite.
The coal roasted Greek Artichoke ($12), cupping chopped herbs and garlic, is a subtle favorite. I’m a touch skeptical about the “coals” since I know they have a ‘wood burning’ over back there. Still, I decimate this dish every time, tearing into the burnt red petals and savoring the tender heart like a vegetable cannibal. I’ve never been partial to creamy dips with artichoke (I prefer butter and lemon) so I find the wild oregano sauce completely unnecessary.
Asparagus is one of the favorite vegetables. Ever. The simple treatment of the Wood Roasted Asparagus ($9) is always my top vegetable choice at STREET. Smokey and crisp with a scattering of sesame seeds, it’s hard to stop popping these. Like the artichoke, the lemon za’atar dipping sauce doesn’t add much for me.
With way too much cheese and not enough spinach, spices or flavor, the Sagg Paneer Pizza with lemon ($12) is not highly recommended. But what this pizza demonstrates is that a fistful of fresh lemon juice can make anything tolerable. But please don’t dismiss all the pizza options… STREET’s Blue Cheese and Date pizza is my current favorite topping combo in all of Los Angeles.
Drawing from the New Orleans tradition, the mashed red bean and rice Laundry Day Fritter ($5) arrive hot and crisp. Dressed in hot sauce crema, andouille and scallions… j/k no andouille… although it might have helped this one note dish out. Seriously, this dish lacks the compact boldness that makes STREET wonderful. I’d recommend the vegan Veggie Meatball with Peanut Lemongrass sauce instead; I don’t have a picture of it because I was being polite the evening I tried it.
I know it’s covered in chicken, but I don’t care. The Chicken + Waffles Croquettes ($10) are my favorite new menu item. The waffle is just ok and I have no idea about the chicken…. But the spicy maple sauce makes me lick the plate. It’s just maple syrup and Crystal hot sauce. Just like heaven.
I generally flip my nose at veggie burgers, but these Spicy Black Bean Veggie Burgers ($10) with pea shoots, smashed avocado and tomato on toasted sourdough are not terrible. Although, I think Michael Natkin put it best: “To me, a black bean burger is a fundamentally flawed concept. No way for it not to be mushy.” Still, I usually order this if I’m not into the pizza of the day.
Susan Feniger’s STREET
742 North Highland Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90038