The Road Less Eaten
Sharing my experiences traveling and integrating my surroundings through local vegan cuisine.
Los Angeles, California, USA
Food style: Eco-conscious, local, organic vegan bistro and bar
Veg Scale: 100% vegan
Part of town: Santa Monica municipal area, near the courthouse
Located on Olympic Blvd. between Ocean Avenue and Main Street, this brand new gem recently opened in my neighborhood and is a most welcome new kid on the block! As you read in my previous entry about Zest Kitchen & Bar in SLC, I absolutely fell in love with the food and the ambiance there and now eLOVate brings many of those exact same elements to my front doorstep!
The LOV stands for Local, Organic, and Vegan and is pure LOVE ☺ Their menu is diverse featuring everything from fresh-squeezed organic juices and cocktails to crabless cakes, jackfruit tacos and daikon scallops. There are so many incredible options on this menu that I actually had a tough time choosing. Lucky for me I was being taken out for my belated birthday nibbles so we all shared family style!
First up was their Classic Poutine (GF). As I’m now dating a Canadian, I’ve been on the search for the perfect vegan poutine since February of this year and… I’ve found it! In America no less! This dish is definitely for the mushroom lover like myself so if you’re not a fan of the fungi then you may disagree. I found the wild mushroom gravy to be the highlight, an incredibly savory and complex blanket engulfing the delicate French fries underneath and topped with the satisfyingly creamy texture and bite of the almond cheese curds. No processed cheese substitute here, just delicious, all natural ingredients making for a decadently guilt-free indulgence! The fries were happily swimming in their gravy pool, the perfect balance of soggy and crispy, slightly seasoned and not too oily or dense. I could have eaten this twice and we almost did! I traveled all over Canada trying to find this dish done right and it was down the street from me the whole time!
To wash it down we ordered a Juice Flight (GF). You can pick the 4 juices for your flight (which costs the same as one full-sized juice), but we opted for our waiter’s recommendations. I LOVE that they offer a flight! It’s the first time I’ve seen such an option at any of the juice bars or vegan restaurants I’ve been to and I see myself taking advantage of it more than once! The Chillax (strawberry, apple, parsley, cinnamon) was my favorite. Not overly sweet, the ingredients balanced perfectly and the cinnamon gave it a unique, comfy finish. The Chloro-Farm II (kale, cilantro, mint, lemon, lime, parsley, spinach, cucumber, spirulina) tastes just as green as it sounds, but would be delicious over ice right after a long, hot hike. The Blaze (pineapple, cucumber, celery, cilantro) would be perfect first thing in the morning; the cucumber and celery balance the sweetness of the pineapple making it a nice option for a mimosa. One of the classic cleanse blends, the Alive on Five (carrot, apple, beet, lemon, ginger) was smooth but a little too sweet for me to want to order a full size.
Next up was dessert times two; this was a birthday meal after all! Again we took the recommendation of our wonderful waiter and got the Pecan Carrot Cake (GF) along with the Coconut Magic Bar (GF). Neither disappointed.
I don’t normally go for carrot cake as I usually find it to be too dry and cakey and the icing too overly sweet. This blew that expectation right out of the water! Soft chunks of soaked pecans mingled with impossibly thin carrot shavings making up a rich, moist and dense cake with layers of creamy vanilla frosting and sprinkles of shaved almond slivers. Served a la mode with their house-churned Vanilla Bean Ice Cream, all the flavors interacted to create a most excellent dessert experience. The unique way they churn their ice cream in-house aerates it so that it has a lighter mouthfeel than average yet is still wonderfully creamy. No element was too sweet or sugary and the assorted textures danced together in perfectly palatable rhythm.
The Coconut Magic Bar is very aptly named and begs to be eaten slowly, though this will be a magic trick in and of itself without a proper mindfulness practice. Somewhat related to a traditional Blondie Bar, this is it’s sexier, more worldly cousin with a much more sophisticated sense of humor and better wardrobe… ok, my metaphor is stretching here, but the flavor and texture of this creation would shame any Blondie Bar I’ve ever tried! A thin sheet of toasted coconut and dates creates the home for a plentiful smattering of rich dark chocolate drops. Served warm and melty, we asked for the Double Chocolate Ice Cream to be served with it in place of the standard Vanilla Bean it normally comes partnered up with. This was one of those rare successful arranged marriages. The melting chocolate chips nestling within the crispy caramel bed of toasted coconut was a sweet vessel on which the newly wedded couple became better acquainted… in my mouth. Wow, my metaphors are really reaching on this one, aren’t they? I guess I’ll have to go back to do some more research and honor you with a more appropriate entry. Le sigh.
Along with our dessert we received a nice little surprise in the form of a birthday drink! The Red Rain is a subtly sweet blend of beets, lemon, celery, cucumber, pineapple, and ginger with an infusion of Rain Vodka. It’s balanced so well and the vodka is of such a quality that I honestly couldn’t even taste the alcohol! The juice mixture was reminiscent of the Alive on Five, but somehow less sweet. I absolutely love that they fresh squeeze all their own mixes in house. You can really taste the difference and for someone like me who doesn’t drink very much, it’s a nice treat.
Due to the distinctly ridiculous metaphors I’ve included in this blog entry thus breaking my commitment to bring you quality reviews of conscious cuisine around the world, I promise to walk down the street to this oasis to research their offerings again and again until I craft a tapestry of tongue tactics (read: words) that is worthy of your distinguished palate. It has nothing to do with their huge menu that offers countless options that I desperately want to indulge in. Not one bit. This is for you.
I am an actor/writer/content creator based in Los Angeles. I travel extensively both as the host of the new vegan food travel show The Road Less Eaten and on my own. This blog will chronicle my journey around the globe as I hunt down all the vegan options in every part of the world, no matter how big the city nor small the town.
Copyright © Ally Iseman 2016. I own my awkward. Thanks for enabling me.