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Jan 18, 2013 03:12 PM

Really good vegetarian restaurant?

Is there a restaurant in LA that makes veggies the star, ala Dirt Candy in NYC or Carmelita in Seattle?

Not thinking of Chinese or Indian food, although I know they have lots of good veggie options.

Really more like a place where the chef has made it a point to give veggies celebrity status.


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  1. Providence does a wonderful vegetarian tasting menu.

    Scarpetta offers a great vegetarian menu offered at all times. Menu is at this link.

    3 Replies
    1. re: wienermobile

      I can't find anything about it on their website. Is there a representative menu somewhere?

      1. re: sasha1

        at Providence you must request in advance. Just call them first. It changes nightly.

        Scarpetta's vegetarian menu at at the link above in my post.

        1. re: wienermobile

          Oof - $24 for tomato/basil spaghetti? Even if it's handmade... And even if the owner is a judge on chopped...

    2. Just to follow up, I'd prefer a place that had these items on their regular menu, and you wouldn't have to do a tasting menu.

      I would love to do a tasting menu, but I'm trying to take care of a friend who is a veggie and also food risk-averse, i.e. she's scared of things that are outside her comfort zone. So a food exploration - veggie or not - is probably not her cup of tea.

      3 Replies
      1. re: sasha1

        You can tell Providence in advance what she will eat and what she won't eat and they will build the meal around your needs. Very accommodating. Very delicious.

        1. re: wienermobile

          I would feel bad, frankly, about calling up Providence and saying - you have a terribly talented chef - would you mind toning it down and doing something kinda boring for my lame friend :)

          1. re: sasha1

            This is a restaurant that is glad to do it. As I said they are very accommodating to your needs.

      2. Rustic Canyon in Santa Monica has many great vegetarian options on their menu. I love their fried cauliflower.

        Same goes for Gjelina in Venice.

        13 Replies
        1. re: wienermobile

          Second both of these. I'm not a vegetarian, but I often eat like one at Gjelina. Only caveat is they have a strict no changes/ omissions / substitutions policy, which might not work for your food risk adverse friend.

          1. re: cookie monster

            Does Gjelina really have a "no omissions" policy? I can understand a "no substitution or addition" policy, but for the life of me can't understand not leaving off, for example, a bacon garnish (for someone who doesn't eat pork), etc. Of course I can accept a chef's not wanting to leave off an essential component of a dish, but an absolutist attitude strikes me as plain silly, sort of arrogant, and not very good business.

            1. re: josephnl

              From Gjelina's menu "changes & modifications politely declined."

              1. re: wienermobile

                Do you think they would actually decline the omission of some reasonable/non-essential component if it were feasible to do so?

                1. re: josephnl

                  Yes. They even did it to Gordon Ramsey.

              2. re: josephnl

                (this is a response to josephni's first post, not the second one)

                if you've ever actually worked in a busy restaurant kitchen, it would make perfect sense to you. kitchens such as theirs work like a collection of very fast coordinated assembly lines.
                the time it takes to individualize a dish throws off the entire line.

                add the fact that this has been their policy for YEARS and the restaurant still has lines coming out the door at all peak mealtime hours (as a matter of fact, they've even expanded during this time), and it will make even more than perfect sense.
                empirically, it can be shown, that whatever it is that they are doing is "good business."

                they may not appeal to everyone, but, truthfully, there are so many customers who want and will wait on line to get exactly what gjelina is delivering, that it doesn't matter.

                1. re: westsidegal

                  There are so many, many excellent and very busy restaurants that will make minor omissions of the kind I am alluding to, that it's obviously not a major strain to do so. Sorry, but pleasing customers when reasonably feasible to do so is still good business. A great book on this has been written by one of NYC's most successful restauranteurs, Danny Meyer. His book "Setting the Table" should be required reading for everyone in the restaurant business.

                  1. re: josephnl

                    if gjelina and father's office are examples of "bad" business, i'd just as soon skip the book.

                    if i were vetting an investment in a restaurant, i wouldn't necessarily look to Danny Meyer's advice as some sort of
                    religious guidance. It's "nice to know" stuff, but far from the be all and end all. i'm not saying Meyer hasn't had success using his approach, but it is far from the only route to success.

                    "reasonably feasible" is simply a judgement call made by the owner/manager of a restaurant based on a lot of restaurant-specific factors; it is not a call made by the customer. (as gordon ramsay discovered)

                    if you can run a LONG-STANDING, SUCCESSFUL, EXPANDING, operation without messing with the rhythm of your line, from an investor's/owner's point of view, by all means it makes sense for you to protect your line--the less disruption, the better.

                    1. re: westsidegal

                      There are different business models w/r/t operating a restaurant.

                      I'm not sure there is one "right" way or one way this objectively "better" than any other.

                      1. re: ipsedixit

                        <<"reasonably feasible" is simply a judgement call made by the owner/manager of a restaurant based on a lot of restaurant-specific factors>>

                        << it is far from the only route to success.>>

                        basically i am agreeing with you, ipse.

                        1. re: westsidegal

                          And I don't think I was disagreeing with you ...

                2. re: josephnl

                  They are doing an Ok business even with their current policy, so I think that it's their decision to make. I totally understand the reasoning behind these kinds of policies, but sometimes it can be a little too "oh, I'm such an artiste" on the part of the chef.

                  Honestly, if their food were better, I would mind their policy a bit less. But anyway, they will make omissions in certain circumstances (removing cheese from salads, I think they'll do). The waiter did manage to get an exception made for me once at brunch, for which I was thankful, since I was starving.

                  Just keep in mind that many of their vegetable dishes are not vegetarian, so depending on how strict your friend is, she may or may not find a lot of vegetarian options at Gjelina.

              1. re: Dirtywextraolives

                and Fig in Santa Monica too. Love their Pastaless Lasagna with
                Bloomsdale Spinach, Sweet Potato, San Marzano Tomato, Mozzarella also their Squash Risotto with Carnaroli, Squash Blossoms, Chanterelles

                1. re: wienermobile

                  You're good, Wiener!

                  I also thought of Lemonade & Tender Greens, if the OP doesn't mind a more casual atmosphere, where you order and walk down the line as you drool over the chefs prepping everything right before your eyes.

                  1. re: Dirtywextraolives

                    in that case i'll add The Veggie Grill also with locations in Santa Monica, Farmer's Market 3rd and Fairfax, Hollywood at the Arclight Theater and El Segundo. They make a great vegetarian crab cake sandwich.

                    1. re: Dirtywextraolives

                      I'll put these in my back pocket but I'm hoping for a little more upscale. Planning a dinner with 2 girlfriends who don't see each other that often. I'd like it to be special.

                    2. re: wienermobile

                      fwiw, my preferred vegetarian entree choice at Fig is their terrific take on curried vegetables.

                  2. Vegetarian Sushi at Shojin in Downtown LA. Japanese Vegan & Macrobiotic Dining.

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: wienermobile

                      You have been so generous with your ideas - but to offer up veg macrobiotic sushi makes me think you don't have any food risk-averse friends!! Lucky.

                      1. re: sasha1

                        My son was a vegetarian so I know all the places he liked.
                        Pizzeria Mozza would also work well for you.

                        1. re: wienermobile

                          gotta say, i've taken many non-vegetarian friends to Shojin, and they have all been pleased.
                          delicious food served prettily.
                          very nice atmosphere, too.
                          fwiw, imho, the food there is not "risky."

                          not sure if they've gotten their liquor license yet, if that matters to you

                          1. re: wienermobile

                            I love Mozza. That and Scarpetta may be the frontrunners because one of us is in Hollywood, one in Century City and one in downtown. So there's points for a central location.

                            Btw, I originally proposed Red Medicine and my lame friend proclaimed the menu too scary for her.