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Feb 26, 2010 10:03 PM

has anyone tried GOLDEN MEAN CAFE in santa monica

I saw a favorable write up from an untrusted source.
would love to know if anyone on the board has some actual experience with the place.

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    1. I have. It's been almost a year now, so my memory of the exact foods I ordered are really hazy (I have a terrible memory!).

      The first time I was there, I had a spinach wrap (spinach being the flavor of the tortilla). I don't remember the filling, but I do remember it was completely tasty and not overpriced for that part of the neighborhood. Okay -- I just remembered: it was a falafel filling. I vaguely remember thinking the portions looked a bit small, but I should also tell you that I tend to be greedy with my eyes when it comes to food portions. Nevertheless, I was glad to discover afterward (as most health and nutrition experts keep trying to tell us) that the falafel wrap did *not* leave me still hungry as I foolishly thought I would have been. Of course, I did also order a giganto slice of chocolate cake that was, lucky for me, *just* done with being frosted, so it was still warm and incredibly moist. That was a splurge on my part as I don't usually eat cake when dining out, as I find it cheaper to make one at home, but there was something that lured me (perhaps the fact that it was possibly vegan?)... Regardless, I was bowled over by this sinful, sinful cake and did not regret forking over the cash for it.

      On another visit (I sometimes have work in that area, which partly explains my repeat visit), I shared a vegan pizza with a friend -- the "pizza" was incredibly tiny. The crust was some sort of cornmeal-centric thing that was thin and crispy... possibly gluten-free, and surprisingly delicious. The toppings were flavorful, though I'm sorry I can't recall what they were! I have to say, once again, my "greedy eyes" first thought the pizza was going to be yucky because it looked small and dried up, but the flavors of the toppings and the texture of the crust were so pleasing. Tiny portion aside, the pizza was delish... very very different, but delish.

      Oh, I just remembered, along with the falafel wrap came a choice of two salads from their refrigerated display case of many different, colorful, fresh salads. I can't recall if there were any actual "leafy green"-type salads, because I chose their pasta salads instead, and they were really good.

      Sidenote: They also have this funny thing with selling non-food items such as new-agey pendants and glass figurines, displayed around the small, narrow dining area, which consists of high counters lining the walls, with tall chairs to sit in. Despite the new-agey vibe of the place, the food is solid, reliable, tasty, healthy California fare, priced accordingly. It's generally not stuff that's hard to screw up, nor is it food that, at its tip-top best, would make your eyeballs pop out of their sockets in delirious amazement. It's just classic California food, but Golden Mean's hook is that they do it with great attention to organic ingredients, veganism and vegetarianism, and freshness.

      I'm so sorry for not being specific enough with my recollections, and I hope if you ever end up going there, that your experience somewhat mirrors mine! Please report back if you do go!

      P.S. I am not a vegan or a vegetarian. I am a full-blown carnivore.

      1. We are going tomorrow night for a vegan friend's birthday. Any recommendations for an omnivore who is not looking forward to this menu? Thanks!

        1. I like the pizzas. The cakes are really good. Saffron-pistachio is worthy of chowhound mention.

          But overall, the food is so basic and boring and healthy that I can't really recommend it.

          1. We've been twice, including 1-2 wks ago (when we couldn't get a seat at Santa Monica Seafood). Dishes seem uneven to me. I have no recollection of I had the first time (maybe ~1 yr ago). My partner had some type of teriyaki bowl, which he enjoyed (and which was fairly tasty).

            Second time, we had the spinach artichoke dip (not bad). Partner had the udon noodles, which really more resembled and tasted like chow mein (and would not have been disappointing had it been labelled as such). I had the reuben. The mock meat did not resemble pastrami, although the taste was fine. I thought the accompanying chips would've been some type of vegetable chips. Nope. They were tortilla chips (very odd combo).

            The hot maca drink was a bit chalky but not unpleasant.

            Ambiance is very casual (although there is table service).

            I don't dislike the place, but it's not a place I'm rushing to go back to. The *quality* is probably comparable to Native Foods or to Veggie Grill, but I think I find the flavor combos at the other places to be more coherent. There is no comparison to Cafe Gratitude (which I only went to once but really enjoyed).

            I think it's worth a try, but I wouldn't go out of my way to try it.