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Upscale Vegetarian?

Hey Chowhounds,

I need your help. I've recently taken to an ovo-lacto-vegetarian diet (purely for ascetic reasons and only temporary) and am looking for a restaurant to take my girlfriend out to. Our schedules usually don't match up so when she told me she didn't have to work this Friday I jumped at the opportunity to wine and dine her.

Any location is fine but Westside is preferred. I currently work and live in the Santa Monica/WLA area. I'd like to try something new so off-the-beaten-path suggestions are welcome, but something along the lines of Lucques/Grace/Josie would be awesome.

Thanks in advance!

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  1. Take the time and drive up to Topanga. Go to:
    Inn of the Seventh Ray for sure
    Check out the Vegan duck??!!

    Here's a website to look at.

    3 Replies
    1. re: Kitchen Queen

      This is an awesome website! Thanks so much!

      1. re: Kitchen Queen

        It's definitely more upscale, but the food is just OK at the Inn of the Seventh Ray. The bread's pretty terrible (it's more like a badly-made granola bar than a badly-made loaf of bread).

        If you can make it to the Valley, Madeleine Bistro in Tarzana, a few miles west of the 405, is upscale vegan cuisine, and it's very good -- I posted a review not long ago.

        1. re: Das Ubergeek

          I'll second your opinion of Inn of the Seventh Ray. It's great for the surroundings, and the occasional celeb sighting is fun for out of towners, but certainly don't go for the food.

        1. re: JudiAU

          Is Grace's menu online current?

        2. I was wondering that, myself. What's there doesn't look too encouraging viz. meatless cuisine...

          1. I ended up making a reservation at La Cachette - any insight into their vegetarian/vegan dishes? I hear good things about this place so I'm excited!

            Thanks to everyone's suggestions, as well.

            1. Inn of the Seventh Ray has really deteriorated of late.

              Try the Vegetarian Tasting menu at Melisse.


              I never realized that La Cachette had vegetarian dishes per se (except for maybe the salads?), much less the fact that they offer vegan dishes. That being said, everything that I have had at La Cachette has ranged from very good to excellent.

                1. re: rdabke

                  Only for the serious die-hard raw foodies. They do the cutesie thing of calling their raw food by cooked food names - like "raw fries" which are dessicated bits of vegetables rolled in some seasoning powder.

                  I found it distinctly underwhelming.

                  I liked Bistro Madeline, though.

                2. This will sound crazy but- Steakhouses have the best veggie sides if you can stand to be around meat. Mastro's is really nice in beverly hills, The Ivy has a perfect vegetable plate that is huge and super filling and you will have a second meal for the next day because it is just that big. (it may not list on menu but they still make with artichokes, corn, tons of versatile veggies) Real food Daily isn't nice- but the food is good- depending on what you get. BOA is another suggestions with the concept stated above in the SM area. I have been veg for 20 years and for the most part any of the nicer restaurants will hook you up especially if you call before hand. Leaf is quite hardcore and is also not nice but strict veg. Not a fan in the inn of the seventh ray was really dirty last time I went and so I never went back.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: rachme

                    I've tried the whole "get a bunch of the veggie sides" thing and while it's enjoyable sometimes, I'd like to step it up and look for a restaurant that actually has vegetarian entrees. Thanks for the suggestion though - I definitely do it, and it's fun!

                  2. /rant on

                    Why bother, though? Vegetable sides are just that. Why pay top dollar if the chef doesn't have the inclination, interest, or imagination to come up with something for a vegetarian that meets his/her standards for the rest of the menu? I once had to have a business dinner up in SF at a well-known steak place - I was part of a group and a couple of our guests were from Japan and wanted to have steak at this place. I had the vegetable sides and was ill for the next couple of days because I think they soaked up a lot of the meat juices from the pans they were cooked in.

                    I expect to try the vegetarian offering at Josie in the near future but after 12 years in LA, I have to figure that this kind of cooking isn't on the radar of the local chefs and will never be if people keep accepting, "Well, we can make you a plate of grilled vegetables" excuse.

                    /rant off

                    1. i'm a vegan and madeleine bistro definitely fits the bill. it doesn't have the ambiance or warmth i crave (like i find at millennium in san francisco), but the food is inventive and outstanding. i suspect you'll enjoy it, too, since my omni husband loved it - dubbing it "the best vegan meal he's ever had." worth the drive. (i did hear that they may be opening a spot on the westside, which would be incredibly welcome.)

                      i like the inn of the seventh ray for the romantic ambiance, but the food didn't make a memorable impression. it's a little new-agey, too, which may be off-putting for some people.

                      i, too, love sides at steakhouses. some of my favorite meals have been experienced in them. so ironic.

                      good luck and enjoy your evening together!

                      1. Real Food Daily isn't quite as upscale as you may be looking for, but It beats Inn of the Seventh Ray in terms food quality any day. But the place is a celeb hangout and is certainly a lot a nicer than most of the good hole in the wall asian vegetarian restaurants you find. I recommend it highly.

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: SebastianRedSox

                          My problem with RFD is that they seem to subscribe to the theory of mortification of the flesh for the good of the soul -- somehow veganism means absolutely no taste, no spice, no seasoning, and most of all no salt.

                          1. re: Das Ubergeek

                            I went to RFD the other day and was satisfied with their sesame-peanut noodles (something like that) but the rest of the food was average.

                            Native Foods, on the other hand, was delicious. I had a tempeh sausage burger with tomato sauce and pesto. I'd get it right now for lunch if I could (too far from work).

                            I went to the Westwood Village branch.

                            1. re: Das Ubergeek

                              I took a cooking class from the owner and the food was all awful. And these were her tried-and-true show off recipes. Yuk.

                          2. i tried mastros and ordered the iceberg lettuce salad with blue cheese.
                            what a huge disappointment.
                            the lettuce was soggy.
                            the blue cheese was only of fair quality.
                            (would have done better going to the counter where they use a good-quality blue cheese).

                            the pretzel rolls, at mastros, though, were very good.