Plant Food and Wine (Venice,CA)

Under the twinkling trees and against the rustle of climbing ivy, we perused the wine list. Our fingers faltered over a lovely 2013 Preston Petite Sirah (Dry Creek Valley, Sonoma​ County, CA) that was so nice we ordered it twice.

From day one, at the top of the Santa Monica Mall, Plant Food and Wine has been serving these Kimchi Dumpling ($16). Dehydrated cilantro and coconut skins folded over a soft paste of fermented kimchee, cashews, tahini, and ginger. The plate is finished with dollops of ginger and sesame milk foam, micro greens, and a twirling flick of red cabbage puree thinned out with kimchi juice. While the name implies heat, there is none to be found in these tender—almost sweet—bites now served in a non-mall atmosphere befitting of the price point.

Two Chinese-style folded rounds of sweet white bread with a tacky glaze make up The Steamed Buns ($14). The fluffy bread is folded around A: Smoked tofu, napa cabbage, and pickled chili with a miso mustard; B: Oyster mushrooms, scallions, and pickled cucumber with a cashew hoisen glaze. I can see how these complex yet delicate flavors made their way to the menu. Priced at $7 a piece, I also understand why they are no longer there.

Though the Cashew Raclette ($14) does not remotely resemble the gooey lava flow of a traditional raclette, the warm cultured cashew creme, glazed in tart brine, melts into the crevasses of the grilled slices of Lodge Bread. Petite gherkins and a radish-parsley garnish drives this dish further from it’s namesake and deeper into likability.

A man-bun of marinated kelp noodles slick with black pepper cashew cream, slivers of sweet snap peas, and delicate curls of pea tendrils make up the Cacio e Pepe ($21). A swath of pea puree lays base under the sandy sprinkle of crisp, oil-cured, olives and pink arugula flowers.

A hardier dish for warmer weather, the Butternut Squash Gnocchi with Farro Bolognese ($24) offers carbs dressed in delicate micro greens and arugula flower. Tender potato dumplings melt into a creamy butternut squash sauce that no one will walk away hungry from.

This is a whole serving of the Apple Pie with Caramel Ice Cream a la mode ($12). That’s not meant as a jab, I’m just stating fact. The raw half-pipe of pastry shell is layered with tart peeled apples with cinnamon, caramel sauce, and a quenelle of rapidly melting ice cream. I’ve repeatedly lamented the state of vegan desserts in restaurants but can say that at least this one is making an effort to be interesting.

To wind down the wine we shared a Turmeric Latte with frothy house-made almond milk laced with ginger.

While overall the dishes at Plant Food and Wine were quite good, at the end of the evening prices gore everyone’s bank account. While food quality and knife skills are what we’ve been groomed to believe we are buying, what one actually buys at Plant Food and Wine—and at any fancy high end restaurant—is status. The right to see and be seen sitting here, high in the corner booth, cocooned by twinkling lights and fluttering olive leaves on one of America’s most exclusive streets. We are the ones who have made it. Who through hard work and moxy—but mostly blind luck and inheritance—get to congratulate​ ourselves on making the good choices in life.

Plant Food and Wine
1009 Abbot Kinney Blvd
Venice, CA 90291

Instagram: @PlantFoodandWine
Facebook: PlantFoodandWine

Vege • ta • ble (Los Angeles, CA)

Vegetable (Los Angeles, CA)

Helming the Studio City kitchen, Jerry Yu delivers vegetarian—mostly vegan—dishes devoid of mock meats and omnivorous similes. Yu relies of the breath of organic fruits and vegetable adorn with nuts whipped into luscious sauces. On paper the preparations sound simple, but they comes together like magic on a plate.

Vegetable (Los Angeles, CA)

Roasted Red and Golden Beets with Reed avocado, baby greens, pickled jicama, and shaved radish in a lemon garlic dressing. The earthy beets take center-stage, supported by the buttery avocado and peppery greens. The dish makes only the lightest alteration to already perfect vegetable embracing the spirit of the restaurant’s name.

Vegetable (Los Angeles, CA)

The Cheesy Fingerling Potato with nacho cashew cheese sauce, chives, and coconut sour cream. Buttery potatoes slathered in nutty cheese pull at the parabolic heartstrings connected to the notion of comfort food.

Vegetable (Los Angeles, CA)

Grilled Corn on the Cob with guacamole, brown butter, Sriracha aioli, coconut sour cream and a light dusting of chives. This dish will enviably leave one with messy hands, but isn’t wiping aioli off your face and licking the brown butter dripping down your arms part of the joy of the summer corn harvest?

Vegetable (Los Angeles, CA)

Duo of Seared Maitake and Beech Mushrooms over a red pepper creme with wilted spinach and crispy sage. Now, I strongly dislike mushrooms. I despise their very existence and squirms at the sight of every single variety, in every preparation, by everyone*. So as lovely as these are (and yes I did take a bite) this is not the dish for me. The spinach, on the other hand, was perfect and I happy gobbled that down while everyone else ate these seemingly delicious ‘shrooms.

Vegetable (Los Angeles, CA)

Teetering on the edge of being charred oblivion, the cast iron Roasted Brussel Sprouts at Vegetable continue to delight me. Their feathered fringe nearly black, these cruciferous vegetables retain a tender green core. Soaked in the juices of yellow peach and red onion, the sprouts burst in your mouth. The char is spiked with basaltic, crispy gluten free bread crumbs, and bright lime zest creating dynamic forkfuls with every pass of this dish.

Vegetable (Los Angeles, CA)

I was caution of the “healthy” brown of this artfully stacked Eggplant Lasagna. But the layers of thin eggplant, baby spinach and cashew ricotta made a plausible likeness to its pastaful namesake. Drizzled with a vegan alfredo, the stack balances on a mound of garlic sweet potato purée with pickled sweet onion and heirloom tomatoes strewn upon the balsamic painted platter.

Vegetable (Los Angeles, CA)

This unassuming bowl of Summer Fusilli Pesto was my surprise favorite. Ringlets of toothsome gluten-free pasta curl with cream and ultra fresh basil pesto and cashew ricotta. Tossed with sunshine sweet corn, tender sun dried tomatoes, and red peppers and topped with buttery Reed avocados and fig bacon this rich bowl of summer exemplify the “Guilt Free Comfort Food” ethos of Jerry Yu’s kitchen.

Vegetable (Los Angeles, CA)
Key Lime and Sweet Potato Pie mason jars with Peanut Butter and Fig and Rosemary Ice Cream. I LOVED the Rosemary accent!

3711 Cahuenga Blvd W
Studio City, CA 91604

Facebook: Vegetable

All food hosted.

*There is one exception to this personal rule: @panchopalmera. He spikes his mushroom with some sort of magic and I’m completely under his spell.

Heirloom LA Catering (Los Angeles, CA)

The elegance of brown paper

This weekend is my dear friend Dani’s wedding but perhaps more importantly, my first ultra vegetarian-friendly wedding dinner! Catered by Heirloom LA, I was lucky enough to attending the tasting a few weeks back.

Perfect bites, no really!

Kicking off the wedding with inspired tray passed appetizers. The twice-baked potato with crème fraiche are perfectly savory and soft, topped with delicately sharp chives and homemade crème fraiche. But it’s the unassuming yellow disk of lemon polenta that stands out. The chives and wild mushroom ragu atop a crispy lemon polenta cake are an unexpected bite of acidly citrus that is thoroughly addictive!

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ABC Kitchen (New York, NY)

The mix matched vegetable spoils!

One month after moving to Los Angeles, New York Magazine cruelly published an entire issue dedicated to the future of vegetables. Anchored with the article Vegetables Are the New Meat, the magazine declared, “At serious restaurants all over town, carrots, peas, and the like are no longer just the supporting cast – they’re the stars. Move over locavores, here come the vegivores.” Fortunately, I’d already booked my friend’s sofa for a return flight back East!

After thoroughly reading New York Mag’s “The Vegetable Movement’s Must-Visit Restaurants,” I gathered a party of 4 to dine at Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s ABC Kitchen— quite possibly “the vegivore restaurant of the year”! Apparently everyone else had the same idea. I had to pull strings to secure a 8:00pm Saturday night reservation with just a few days notice… not that I actually know important people, but I do know their personal assistants!


There was no question that the Roasted Kabocha Squash Toast with fresh ricotta and apple cider vinegar ($10) would be the very first dish I ordered. According to all the press outlets that matter, it’s a top vegivore dish at ABC. Was it life changing?! Well, no… but imagine silky kabocha slivers lying in a bed of ricotta and crackling whole grain bread with a sprinkle of rooftop basil leaves. It may not change your life, but it will give you a solid 10 minute foodie high. Continue reading

Eleven Madison Park (New York, NY)

We cleared the room...

I spend the entire month confirming, reconfirming, and reconfirming my decedent Five Course Vegetarian Gourmand lunch reservation at Eleven Madison Park. Having read the phrase “EMP has the best vegetarian tasting menu in Manhattan” on Yelp and Chowhound ad nauseum, to say my expectations (and anticipation) were high is not an overstatement. We began the fanciful gourmand journey at 2:00pm and by 3:30pm, forcing down the final crumb of exquisite macarons, we were the last men standing in the shimmering gold deco dining room at the base of the iconic Met Life Tower.

We look delicious but taste like air!

As expected (I can’t decide if it’s funny or crass that these “compliments of the kitchen” bites are now anticipated, or even demanded in a tasting menu) we were presented with a square bowl of Gougeres. The delicately cheesy bread is like eating air with carbs… which is not really a good thing, but in this case, not a bad thing either… Continue reading

Eat (Brooklyn, NY)

A charming storefront on a quite street

Whatever my relation may or may not be to the one of former owners of Eat Records, I’ve never had mixed feeling over its conversion into a localvore sanctuary. Jordan Colon, the head cook and owner of the revamped “Eat,” has dressed up the typically crunchy-granola seasonnique-style of cooking in a white-walled minimalistic quasi-classy restaurant!

Kudos to the chef! He cooks and takes orders...

Few restaurants in New York who tout the localvore heritage actually look, taste, and feel the part… more often their “commitment to farm-to-table” or ”sustaining self-reliant food economies” and other modern hippy jargon are practiced only behind the kitchen door. But at Eat, when you look down unto the tomato pulp covered hands of the chef or over towards his well worn bike, you can feel the sweat of the ride to the local Greenmarket through which he brings you the sunshine and soil of “food is purchased directly from organic farmers in the northeast region.” Continue reading

Buttermilk Channel (Brooklyn, NY)

The interior is prettier then it looks here

I didn’t realize in I was in the company of a local celebrity until walking through the door of Buttermilk Channel. The host fawned over us with grace and attention once she realized who my companions were. So, although my perception of the staff may have been slightly skewed, each element of the evening worked like a well oiled machine with unlabored friendliness, impeccable timing, and with nay a hint of pandering.

Before arriving, this restaurant was already on my good side… providing a separate vegetarian menu is a mark of a restaurateur’s attention to every detail of a finer dining experience. Big dogs like Per Se and Daniel do it, trendy specialized places like Zenkichi do it, even the Thai food machine Sripraphai does it. It makes marking vegetarian items on the regular menu with a  little green v seem so low brow… besides this gives the chef the opportunity to show of their creativity by exploring whimsical variations on standard dishes for an audience that will, at a minimum, have respect the effort.

Just moments before they went into my mouth

We began with all The Snacks! First to appear were the dill-icious House-made Pickles ($3) a lovely crunchy cousin from the Claussen’s clan. The spears and chips offer slight different flavors but I devoured them much too eagerly to remember their distinctions.

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Maggie Brown (Brooklyn, NY)

Tending the Bar

After a few unnoteworthy dinners at Maggie Brown I pretty much dismissed her as a viable food option, but at my friend’s insistence we met here for brunch. Although I had recently made the resolution that drinking with brunch is a waste of money (except in the case of an unlimited glass) the awkwardness of sitting at a bar and not ordering a drink prevailed.

Hot whiskey... I wish it were tea

The warm mug of Bette Sue’s Apple Cider (whiskey spiked cider) was a pleasant restitution for breaking my own rule, but I later regretted loosing that $7 for a feeling that could have easily been recreated with simple hot tea.

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Vinegar Hill House (Brooklyn, NY)

As expected from the Freeman’s pedigree, the decor is colonial shabby with all the idiosyncrasy of the Sporting Club and veiled with a refined ladies touch. But from the beginning, many elements of the night were working against us, let this be a lesson in the futility of the “I know someone” mentality, because even though we got hugs and kisses from the all right people, we couldn’t get a timely table… but the birthday party in the basement, the surprise health inspector, and the diners who obstinately refused to move to the bar long after finishing their desserts even after the hostess offer them a free round of drinks didn’t help either… so we waited well over an hour in the charming but cold courtyard while the hostess offered us the boorish table’s free round(s).

We began with a round of salads; I was quite fond of my Bartlett Pear Salad ($10) with an oily slab of roasted fennel adorning a crown of baby arugula festooned in salty white nuggets of pecorino. Personally I would have liked more pear less fennel but my friend felt the opposite so we traded some portions to adjust the salads to our preferences. 

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No. 7 (Brooklyn, NY)

Maneuvering around a flight of steps down to the C train we entered the crowed lounge of No. 7. A loitering line five couples deep blocked our view of the dining room so I send my BF to find out what kind of wait we had in store… he returned with a 30 minute estimate and a cocktail menu. Scanning the list I fumbled over the effervescent Lambrusco and into the Mango, Cilantro, Chipotle Vodka, Sparkling Lime cocktail ($11). The chipotle lingers like undercooked taro (but in the good way) and the cilantro fills the nose with every sip, but the sweetness (or lack thereof) from the mango was inadequate to tie the libation together. I was only 15 minutes into my drink when the hostess came over to tell us our table was ready.

Although we sat at what is probably the worst table in the house – next to the bread stations and bathroom hall – we were happy to be seating at all and we had a direct view into the spiffy bright white kitchen with the red bandana headed chef bobbing back and forth.

We were immediately presented with crusty bread and, be still my heart, a warm gooey white bean fondue and delicately thin and crunchy quick-pickles. When the waitress came over, with a friendly wave of my hand, I said “bring us every vegetarian dish” and then chugging my drink “and a Lambrusco!” Our table was promptly filled with 3 appetizers and a cool glass of wine –our waitress warned me it was a sweet bottle, which I loved despite the resemblance to Welch’s and day old club soda.

I was eager to get the “famous” Fried Broccoli ($7) in my mouth but I was sorely disappointed. From what I gather this is a middle of the country state fair kind of delicacy, and so if you grew up with this I’m sure No.7’s is fabulous; but this girl grew up refilling the ice bath for lacy tempura and so, to me, this dish tasted like a heavy over battered tempura. Continue reading