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Oct 4, 2007 07:35 PM

"Fancy" Vegan food?

My parents are coming to town and they want to celebrate my birthday at a "Fancy" place. Unfortunately for them, I don't eat the meat, the fish or the dairy... I'm usually cool to find something vegan at "fancy" places but it's usually some sort of compromise veg dish with the cheese removed coupled with rolled eyes from the waiter and probably an irritated chef.... But this time it's MY birthday and I don't want to have some apology for a meal. I want food. There must be SOME place that will serve something vegan and delicious with a smile. Any ideas???
And please no Real Food Daily... I'm fine to eat there but my husband complains that it's like eating from the Blue Bin...
There must be somewhere good; any suggestions???

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  1. there's a tiny place in my neck of the woods, on sunset in echo park called elf cafe. the people are really nice and make an effort to inform and accomodate. i believe all menu items are vegan.

    1. i forgot to mention they don't serve alchohol but have a $5 corkage fee...and they focus on mediterranean dishes. meat eaters might not get too excited, but its your birthday!

      1 Reply
      1. re: carolinevalentine

        Right, I totally forgot about that place. It is very yummy! Thanks for reminding me.

      2. I'd also love more places that do what you're looking for. I have never been to an all-vegetarian place that fits the bill, though I've heard good things about Madeleine in Tarzana, I believe. However, one of the best vegan dishes I've had at a non-vegetarian restaurant is at Chaya Venice, the "Crispy Tempeh with Curried Coconut Lentils, Tuscan Kale, Sweet Potato Puree and Crispy Onions." It's delicious and creative. You also have a choice of, if I recall correctly, three or four vegan appetizers. The seaweed salad is really delicious and interesting!
        Even if you don't go for your birthday, you might want to try it sometime anyway. I think it's incredibly important to support the restaurants that offer creative, thoughtfully prepared vegetarian main dishes. Maybe someday we'll get more choices.
        Oh, Grace might be a possibility, too, though I can't attest to the vegan choices (since I consume some dairy products). Over the summer I had a spectacular carrot risotto with tempura battered squash blossoms. It was simply magical and a real testimony to what's possible when you have a brilliant chef using top notch local produce.

        3 Replies
        1. re: Epicure

          after making the trek from playa del rey to the valley to try madeline bistro, i was SEVERELY DISAPPOINTED. the best thing they offered was a chicken fried seitan sandwich, but i certainly don't associate that kind of food with tablecloths and high prices.

          i do, though, completely agree with your assessmant of the vegan dish at chaya venice--absolutely delicious

          1. re: westsidegal

            You must have gone for lunch... there are no sandwiches on the dinner menu at Madeleine. There is chicken-fried seitan, but it's got gravy and mashed potatoes... and the artichoke risotto is much better anyway, as are the porcini-wrapped tofu "scallops". They sometimes have a Thai red curry that is excellent, and there have been dinner specials of arborio-encrusted mushrooms that are out of this world.

            The prices are high. Maybe someday when the vegetarians take over there will be enough competition to drive the prices down, but right now that's not the case, and there are very few vegan "up-scale" restaurants in LA.

            1. re: Das Ubergeek

              You think, "vegetables and tofu and seitan, right? How expensive can that be?" Yet most veggie places are really pricey.!

              Not fancy inside, but the patio at Follow Your Heart is nice, and you BYOB for no corkage. Food is good. But FAR from fancy.

              I second the Inn of The Seventh Ray for Swank Factor. I seriously recommend the Sunday Brunch there. Very good. Better than dinner, really, with a plethora of vegetarian and vegan items.

        2. Madeleine Bistro in Tarzana is probably your best bet. The decor is mid-range (meaning linen napkins and some attention paid to making the place look nice), though some of the food (beet tartare) is upscale and some is not ("chicken" fried seitan sandwich). The food tastes amazing, though -- you would never know you're not eating chicken. They make "cheese" from cashews and it tastes... like cheese. As far as I know the chef doesn't resort to Adria-esque molecular gastronomy whatnots, with vegan bacon flavouring or whatnot...

          The nice thing about Madeleine is that it is not scary to omnivores. Most vegan restaurants (not just in LA) that I have been to are very in-your-face about their philosophies, with treatises on their menus.

          Another option would be the Inn of the Seventh Ray in Topanga Canyon, which has many vegan options in a very upscale setting (sit outside, by the rustling creek). The food's not as good as Madeleine, but the setting is better and they do serve meat so your parents can eat "mundane" food. One further caution about Inn of the Seventh Ray -- they are quite woowoo and so the menu is listed in order of "esoteric vibration". Vegan first, then dairy, then eggs, then white meat and fish, then red meat. I read the menu from the back.

          3 Replies
          1. re: Das Ubergeek

            These are great suggestions. The dish at Chaya sounds really good and Madelaine also sounds excellent, though a bit far. I ate at Inn of the Seventh Ray recently and wasn't that impressed by the veg offerings. I think I was expecting more of a choice. I ended up getting the duck which was highly recommended but it was really super sweet, and a bit gross. Also, no telling what was in it.. the waiter said it arrived from Chinatown without an ingredient list... which seemed a little odd given the aforementioned "woo-woo" vibe of the place. I agree too about supporting places that offer v choices... I had lunch yesterday at a restaurant downtown for this very reason! If no one is buying the stuff, it's going to disappear from the menu and we'll all be packing PB&J to dinner!

            1. re: lisa.aa

              Madeleine's menu is at (you must use Internet Explorer, the site is Evil and Rude if you use Firefox) so you can decide if it's worth the trip before you go. :)

            2. re: Das Ubergeek

              ate at the inn of the seventh ray last weekend.
              the food was fair.
              the service sucked
              the place was really pretty

            3. Agree w/ Grace; they do a veggie tasting menu.

              Also, what about INN OF THE SEVENTH RAY?