Tag Archives: Los Angeles

Vegan Girl Scout Cookies!!!!!!!!!

8 Feb

It’s the most wonderful time of the year…

Girl Scout Cookies

I wrote up most of what I know about how to get vegan Girl Scout cookies in this big blog post a year ago, but I just wanted to do a quick update to let you know that if you’re lucky enough to live near a Girl Scout council that buys their cookies from ABC Bakers instead of Little Brownie Bakers (because Little Brownie puts dairy in all their flavors, boooo!) then you have the opportunity to get your hands on some vegan Girl Scout Cookies! And whereas last year I declared certain ABC cookies to be vegan by simple deduction, this year,  for the first time ever, ABC Bakers has labeled some of their cookies as “vegan” right on their website!!!  (See the picture above.)

Progress, folks, real progress!

For those of you in the L.A. area like me, be aware that the Girl Scout Cookies sold in L.A. are NOT vegan because they come from Little Brownie. The closest place to get the vegan ones is Orange County. Here’s a link to the Girls Scouts of Orange County cookie finder, which will tell you the time and location of their booth sales which are running from now through March 10th. Just plug in a zip code for a town close to L.A. like Seal Beach (90740) or Westminster (92683) and you’ll be on your way.

Oh, and if you can figure out why the new ABC “Mango Cremes with Nutrifusion” aren’t labeled vegan, please let me know, because I don’t see anything suspect in the ingredients list.

Happy Cookieing!

Chego’s attitude toward vegans: Why won’t Chego away

1 Dec

Chego
3300 Overland Ave
Los Angeles CA 90034
310.287.0337

Chego

Sometimes it’s hard to have a conversation in 140 character segments. So rather than keep tweeting back and forth with Chef Roy Choi, founder of the Kogi food trucks that started a craze in, well, food trucks, I decided to write a longer post.

I’ve been vegan for over two years now, and my experience this week at Chego was one of if not my worst vegan restaurant experience. And it was particularly frustrating for a number of reasons. First off, back in May, Chef Choi tweeted that he quit eating meat. Oh, and by the way, that link I just provided about Chef Choi not eating meat anymore? It’s from The New Yorker. Seriously, this was deemed such a momentous event that the New Yorker covered it. Then a couple of weeks later he was saying that just because he might give up meat for a while doesn’t mean he’s a vegetarian or vegan, but that he feels for us.

So about a month ago I tweeted him asking if there was anything for vegans to eat at his restaurant Chego on Overland at Palms. My tweet: “Hi chef! Is anything @EatChego vegan or easily veganizable? Thnx!” His reply: “Many things for you to eat. We got you.”

Great, right? Sure, it was all great until I actually decided to try to go and eat there. Then it was a completely different story. I went in for lunch and the woman taking orders couldn’t have been more friendly. I told her about my exchange with Chef Roy and she seemed to want to help. However, she didn’t have a very good grasp of the ingredients that were in each item.

So she went in the back and brought out a gentleman who I presume to be the manager. He sure acted like a manager. And I explained to him about the tweets I exchanged with Chef Roy. And… he could not have cared less. Seriously, if I had an employee who didn’t seem to care about what I, the owner, had told a customer, that employee would not be around much longer.

But when I tweeted Chef Roy about his manager’s bizarre behavior, which pretty much included a refusal to speak to me directly even though he was standing right in front of me, instead choosing to relay all messages through the woman who was taking orders as if some scene from a sitcom where the parents or siblings are fighting, Chef Roy wrote back pretty quickly to tell me this manager “did what he could.” What?! Did Chef Roy really check with his manager that quickly and not only take the manager at his word but then just turn around and tell me his manager’s response? Or, as I suspect, did Chef Roy just automatically decide to stand by his manager’s completely unacceptable and customer-unfriendly behavior without even asking the manager about it.

And let me tell you, I could not have been more nice about the whole thing. I never go to a non-vegan restaurant and expect to be fed as if it’s my right. Sometimes if I’m in a pinch somewhere, or wind up at a place where a group of friends are meeting, I will explain myself to the server and ask if they’re able to help. And they’re often as nice as can be.

But this was the opposite situation. Here I was, going to a restaurant where the owner himself had told me “Many things for you to eat. We got you” and yet the manager couldn’t give a rat’s ass and was not in the least bit interested in making this work for me. And not only that, the menu has been updated at Chego recently as reflected on the website. However, the restaurant itself has made the decision not to print new menus, instead sticking with outdated laminated sheets and instead using white stickers to cover up and block out the items that are no longer on the menu like you’d see at some down-on-its-luck hardscrabble coffee shop. I kid you not, these are the menus that customers are left to use.

Making matters worse, I was told that some of the items contained things like fish sauce that weren’t in the ingredients listed for each item on the menu. So how am I supposed to know what to order without help from the people who work there? Again, after I was told by the owner “Many things for you to eat. We got you” and after I told the manager that the owner had told me this. I know I’m repeating myself but I still find it shocking.

None of the items on the menu are labeled vegetarian, yet alone vegan, so it wasn’t like I had that going for me to provide some assistance. I was completely at the mercy of the staff and they were of no help whatsoever.

So what finally wound up happening? Well, the manager deigned to tell the woman taking orders that I could get the “Sour Cream Hen House: marinated grilled chicken rice bowl w/fried egg, Chinese broccoli, sour cream sambal, Thai basil, sesame and red jalapeño” and hold the sour cream, chicken, and fried egg. So I said sure. Like a friend of mine always says, “I’m not picky, just vegan.”

Then the woman told me that if I ordered the “Beehive Brussels Sprouts: caramelized and deglazed w/ soy vinaigrette over yogurt curd and honeycomb, crowned w/ salsa ensalada, fried shallots and sesame” without the honeycomb I’d be fine, so I said great to this, too. Now I know you’re saying, “But it has yogurt.” However, this was apparently one of their new items and it is not on the old weatherbeaten menus they have at the restaurant, so I had no idea what the ingredients were other than the honeycomb, which I guessed at given the “Beehive” in the name. And even though I’d already explained a few times to the woman taking orders that vegan meant no meat, no fish, no dairy, no eggs — she still told me I’d be fine with an item that came on a bed of yogurt. So when the item arrived, yup, it was on a bed of yogurt. AND, the sour cream bowl hold the sour cream came with, you guessed it, a big dollop of sour cream on it.

Beehive Brussels sprouts hold the honeycomb but oops, they gave it to me on a bed of yogurt.

Beehive Brussels sprouts hold the honeycomb but oops, it’s on a bed of yogurt!

And yet when I tweeted to Chef Roy that my experience at Chego had been rough, he replied “Don’t know why it was rough.” Really?!

I have to wonder just how detached Chef Roy is at this point from his restaurants. Why would he tell me there were many things to eat there without getting specific, leaving me with the impression that, well, there’d be many things for me to eat there, when that couldn’t have been further from the situation, at least not with the help of his staff, which was either unable or, remarkably, UNWILLING to help me.

So after my lunch I asked him what were these “many things” he’d told me awaited me. And he replies: “Leafy T.” Okay, well, they did not tell me about this option at the restaurant. Perhaps because the item as listed on the menu contains a “fried egg” — though they did not offer me the option of getting the Leafy T and holding the egg. I then asked him whether the “Smashed Kabocha Cup: roasted kabocha and sweet potato puree w/ soy glaze, bread crumbs, herbs and seasonal veggies” or the “Fancy Guac Salad: w/ fresh orange slices, fennel, pickled red onion and a chipotle dressing” contained any egg or dairy, and he never answered my question. Instead he simply sent me another tweet saying “You live up to your name.”

Now granted, I CAN be insufferable, as any of you who are regular readers (love ya!) know. And that’s partly the whole point. BUT I can also be friendly, polite, understanding, and VERY appreciative of any non-vegan place that’s trying to accommodate me. AND I can totally get it when a clearly non-vegan place can’t or won’t accommodate me. But when the owner of a restaurant tells me “Many things for you to eat. We got you” and then acts like I’m the one who’s being unreasonable for complaining that they didn’t got me even a little, then I think it’s the other party who’s clearly insufferable. And if you say it sounds more like he’s being Too Cool for School than insufferable, then I’m standing here touching the tip of my nose with my finger. And did I mention that this owner’s manager didn’t want to help at all to the point of rudeness, and that this owner talked earlier this year about not eating meat himself?

So what did I do after my twitter exchange with THE GREAT CHEF ROY ‘PAPI’ CHOI? I went back to Chego that very same night for dinner. That’s right. I went back and ordered the Leafy T bowl hold the fried egg. And at night, the guy taking the orders was much more knowledgable about ingredients than the woman at lunch, and seemed very certain that the Fancy Guac Salad did not contain any egg or dairy, so I got that too.

"Fancy Guac Salad" This was very good.

“Fancy Guac Salad”
This was very good.

And? Well, the Fancy Guac Salad was very good, although one of the two big chips they gave me with it was soggy. But I did not like the Leafy T at all. Maybe the fried egg brings the whole thing together, I don’t know. But I can tell you that it wasn’t nearly as good as the parts of the Brussels sprouts or the Sour Cream, Chicken and Egg Bowl hold the Sour Cream, Chicken and Egg that I picked at where they seemed not to touch the dairy that I’d asked them unsuccessfully to leave out.

And there, that’s my Chego story. I’m not sure what to make of it. Maybe you’ll have a better sense than I will. It sounds like an owner who really doesn’t have much of a clue what’s going on at his own restaurant, but maybe that’s not the case at all. Maybe he just wants to sound accommodating to everyone, or progressive, without really giving any thought to what that actually entails for someone who takes him at his word and shows up to eat the things he tells them they’ll be able to eat.

I hope THE GREAT CHEF ROY ‘PAPI’ CHOI will see that he’s the one who was being insufferable here, or at least that we both were, although I will only admit to being insufferable in this instance AFTER my visit, not before or during. And I hope this opens his eyes to the problem, and that when he finally decides to spend a little money and print new menus instead of covering up old items with white stickers (seriously, how much could some new menus cost, we’re not talking fancy menus here, we’re talking one 8.5″ X 11″ page) that maybe he’ll even think about putting some kind of symbol for vegetarian or vegan or can-be-made-vegan-on-request on the menu, like MANY restaurants in Los Angeles do these days. You know, the kind who really ARE trying to accommodate people who are doing the thing that Chef Roy mused to The New Yorker that he was thinking about doing.

I will end by saying one thing: Chef Roy is really talented. Some of the food I picked at around the edges was really, really good. If he would make more of an effort for us — and it would only take a little bit of effort — he could easily come up with a way for almost all diners to enjoy his talent. I really hope he will read this and do that, so that I’m not the only one in this back and forth who’s living up to their tweets.

Why this keeps happening is Beyond Meat

20 Oct

Have you been following my Beyond Meat saga? And by saga I mean two boring blog posts. Plus this one. Three.

It started off on Wednesday when Beyond Meat sent out a not-even-quite-cryptic email asking us all to guess which region they were rolling out in that day. As one of my Instagram followers said: I wasn’t in the mood to guess.

Then after a similarly mysterious Tweet they sent a second Tweet revealing that it’s Southern California. Now keep in mind, Beyond Meat had already been available for a few weeks in the Madeleine Bistro bistro box, and in big bags at Viva La Vegan, and in sandwiches at Phoney Baloney’s. But I guess the fact that it was going into Whole Foods was supposed to be a big deal. The place they expected to find their core audience or something. Like match.com for fake meat and fake meat lovers.

Except they completely blew it. The email, tweets and website all directed people to the prepared foods cases at Whole Foods and listed a whole bunch of Whole Foods locations where you could find it in Los Angeles. So, because I’m pathetic, I jumped right in the car and burned rubber. (Hyperbole.)

Beyond Meat mislabeled as Gardein at the Westwood Whole Foods

But when I got to the Whole Foods in Westwood there wasn’t any in the prepared foods case. Only in a nasty steamed-vegetable-concoction at the hot bar. With a card saying, “Gardein Chicken.” So I headed over to the Whole Foods in West L.A. Where there wasn’t any in the prepared foods case either. Or the hot bar. And only after encountering a knowledgeable and helpful “team member” who wondered why so many people kept coming in that day asking for Beyond Meat, and learning from me that it was their big rollout day, wondered why nobody bothered to tell Whole Foods that or to make sure it was actually on hand.

You see it turned out that both stores DID have Beyond Meat. Only not the day of the rollout. They had it for the previous two weeks. But again, NOT on the day of the rollout. Finally, the helpful team member had an inkling where I might be able to find it — he thought there might be some left over from the previous day at the taco bar. And he was right! There under the tag “Vegan Chicken in Tomatillo Sauce” was some Beyond Meat, and it was as good as the steam table concoction was bad.

I was sold. Or so I thought.

The Beyond Meat in Tomatillo Sauce was so good that I wanted to try it some other ways. So the next day, after getting some very positive tweets from Beyond Meat saying that my blog post had led them to look into their distribution problems, I went off to some of the other Whole Foods listed on the Beyond Meat website to see what I could find.

Beyond Meat Summer Chicken Salad. Photograph taken on October 18th.

At the Whole Foods on 5th and Wilshire in Santa Monica, for the first time I encountered Beyond Meat in the prepared foods case, which is where customers were supposed to be able to find it all along. It was only available in one preparation: a “Summer Chicken Salad.”  Okay, I know, it was October 18th. But I have to tell you, this preparation would not have tasted any better on July 18th. It was nasty. It was in some purple-colored mayonnaise-like dressing that turned the whole salad purple. Who created this recipe, tasted it, and said “Yes, this tastes good!”?  But I bought some anyway because, well, it was still Beyond Meat and I had driven there!

Then I went to the Whole Foods at Wilshire and 23rd in Santa Monica. (Yes, there are two Whole Foods eighteen blocks apart — one was a smaller store from when Whole Foods acquired Wild Oats.) And there, in the giant prepared foods case, at the giant 23rd and Wilshire store, they had NO Beyond Meat. Did they even know what it was? Yes, they did! And they said they had some on Monday, in fact. But not since then. Which means not on Wednesday, the day of the company’s alleged giant rollout.

Vegan Curry Chicken Salad Pre-Pack

However, a few minutes later, nosing through the refrigerated shelving where the pre-packed foods are displayed, I found one (and only one) pre-packed Vegan Chicken Curry Salad. Now mind you, the Whole Foods vegan chicken curry salad is one of my staples and has been since I first went vegan a little over two years ago. Back then it was made with Gardein. I loved it, ate it at least twice a week for lunch. It was really good. Then, about a year ago, they stopped making it with Gardein and switched to Eco-Cuisine. I was devastated! I contacted Whole Foods and was told that Eco-Cuisine absorbed the sauce better and they were sticking with it. *Sigh*

Well, that happens in life. The things you like go away or get changed. You have to move on. And learn to accept online bill pay and eat Eco-Cuisine. So I did. And while it wasn’t as good, I got used to it. Maybe, just maybe, it was almost as good. Or at least as my Gardein Memories faded it was.

But now, in my hand, reading the label, I saw that my beloved vegan chicken curry salad was… drumstick roll please… made with Beyond Meat! Exciting! I guess. So I bought it.

Mislabeled card at Beverly Hills Whole Foods

And then… yesterday… aka Friday… I was in Beverly Hills, and wouldn’t you know it, they also have a Whole Foods that was on the Beyond Meat website list. So I went. And what kind of Beyond Meat did they have in the prepared foods case? Nothing, according to the first team member I spoke to. And nothing, according to the woman he asked after I asked him to ask someone else. However, the person she asked after I asked her to ask someone else, who was the head of the prepared foods section, told me that in fact there was an item in the prepared foods case made with Beyond Meat, and it was… the vegan chicken curry salad. “But look,” I said, “The card for it says it’s made with Eco-Cuisine.” “Yeah I know,” he said, “But the card is wrong.”  And so I bought some, even though I already had some in a pre-pack in my fridge. Because, well, like I said, I was excited about Beyond Meat, and I wanted to see if there was any difference between the fresh and the pre-pack.

And here’s the result of my scientific experiment, aka eating: the Whole Foods vegan curry chicken salad, when made with Beyond Meat, SUCKS. The pre-pack and the fresh sucked equally. They weren’t nearly as good as the Eco-Cuisine, which wasn’t as good as the Gardein. Now I’m a realist, and I don’t ever expect to see Eco-Cuisine at Whole Foods again. They have clearly thrown in their lot with Beyond Meat and whenever Whole Foods make a change like this there is no going back. And like I said, the Beyond Meat in the Tomatillo Sauce at the taco bar was fantastic. Really, really good. But somehow, the sauce from the vegan chicken curry salad, or some other food chemistry reaction from the ingredients, turned the Beyond Meat in the chicken curry salad into a hard rubberlike substance. Chewing it was like chewing taffy, only harder. It was like taking a rubber washer from your washing machine and trying to eat it. One piece was so hard and rubbery I literally could not chew it enough to swallow it. I had to take it out of my mouth and throw it into the trash. It refused to allow itself to be chewed.

THIS IS BAD.

How could someone at Whole Foods have tried this and thought it could be served to humans? I imagine they knew it could not, but were under orders to use Beyond Meat in this product from now on anyway. Period. There is nothing else I can imagine that would explain why Whole Foods would do this. If the BMB (Beyond Meat Boss) were to try a bite of this vegan curry chicken salad he would be horrified. Mortified. Because, like me and my tomatillo, he knows how good his product can be. And this was the opposite. The nadir. It was a showcase for how BAD his product can be. It was so bad you practically wondered if it was a competitor committing sabotage. It really was that gross.

So what’s next? Hopefully, since Beyond Meat seems to be aware and concerned about the fiasco they are enduring in their Whole Foods rollout, they will investigate, get the recipes fixed, and make sure their product is used in ways that make everyone realize how good it can be. Otherwise they will quickly begin to wonder why nobody is buying their product. And Whole Foods, if they have the kind of inventory system I imagine them to have, will wonder why sales of the once quick-moving vegan chicken curry salad have begun to dry up.

And it’s early. I know. And things can be fixed. And I hope they will be. But like I said, how any of this could have happened in the first place is Beyond Meat.

Craig’s Lust

20 Oct

Craig’s
8826 Melrose Ave
West Hollywood CA 90069
310.276.1900

You might think it’s VeganMoFo month but more importantly, it’s Bad Headline month. And this might be my worst one yet!

However, if you eat at Craig’s, or even look at these photos, I think you will understand the lust part.

Craig’s is a high-end restaurant in Los Angeles owned by Craig Susser, who used to be a GM at nearby Dan Tana’s. And like Dan Tana’s it features steaks and Italian food and serves them to a similar crowd. However, Craig’s now has a vegan section on its menu!

How did I learn about this development in the L.A. restaurant world? From The New York Times of course. In an article I’ve already written about. So the head of Supervegan’s L.A. office and I decided we needed to investigate.

The first things I noticed when we entered is that Craig’s is a hoppin’, even on a Tuesday night. A wide mix of people, not unlike the Dan Tana’s crowd. We were seated in a great booth and quickly got to work on our investigation.

Following some questioning of our very helpful server, including the important info that the vegan version of their “Meldman’s Honey Truffle Chicken” is made with agave not honey, we decided to do what we usually do and order way too much food. Which we then ate almost all of.

What did we get? We have photographs!

Vegan Sausage Pizza

Craig’s has a Vegan Pizza on the menu as well as a Vegan Sausage Pizza. Well, the Vegan Sausage Pizza has an extra word in its name so we got that one. Good choice, us! This pizza was really good, but it clearly didn’t have Daiya. It had a melty, reflective cheesy-looking cheese. Hmm, what was it? Can you believe this, one of the servers knew without even needing to go check: “Oh, it’s Follow Your Heart,” he said.

We ate the pizza as our appetizer and then dove into the main courses. “Dove” figuratively, unless you count moving forward at rapid speed and descending toward something as diving, in which case take away those quotes. Because this is what we got:

Vegan Meldman’s Honey Truffle Chicken

Like I mentioned above, even though the Vegan Meldman’s Honey Truffle Chicken says it’s “tossed with truffle-infused honey,” our server assured us that for the vegan version they use agave instead of honey, so we got it. And it was good. Two big pieces of Gardein that looked like they had been pounded flat and then battered and fried. It was crispy and tasty. Winner!

Stuffed Peppers

We also got the stuffed peppers and I liked this a lot. One red half and one green half, stuffed with stuff. What kind of stuff? Good stuff. Maybe the picture will help. I thought there were some tofu cubes in there but I could be wrong. I often am. But it was really tasty. I could eat this again. Now. Even though I’m not the least bit hungry.

Vegan Chicken Parmigiana

And you didn’t think we were going to pass up the Vegan Chicken Parmigiana, did you? Another big round Gardein patty that looked like it had been pounded flat. We didn’t ask if this was also Follow Your Heart cheese but I’m guessing it was. This dish was also very good and my only criticism would be that the Gardein patty was almost a bit too tender considering that my memory of real chicken parmigiana is that it had a thicker texture. But hey, small complaint.

And as we ate all this great food, I was sitting there thinking: we are in a nice restaurant, having dinner like adults, and this feast we are consuming is vegan. If you’re vegan, I don’t have to tell you how rare that opportunity is.

It is great to see Craig going out of his way to make you feel like the kind of food you eat is just as valid and normal as the kind of food that anybody else eats. That there is nothing weird about it and that there is nothing unwelcoming about having you come there to eat it. He and his staff were as gracious as could be.

Chocolate Cake with Coffee Crunch Ice Cream

Okay, time for dessert. We got the vegan chocolate cake and we were offered the choice of three vegan ice creams to go with it: mint chip, vanilla or coffee crunch. Now I don’t like coffee but THOSVLAO does, so I said let’s go for it and I made the right choice! It was not too coffee-ee and it was delicious, with some kind of toffee in there providing said crunch. However… I did not like the cake. It wasn’t a slice of cake like the menu made me think it would be, but more like a little Pillsbury biscuit of chocolateyness. Oh well, the ice cream was good!

So that’s it — two humans, four dishes, one dessert, and four pounds. Worth it!

It’s Sage Thyme

2 Oct

Sage Organic Vegan Bistro
1700 West Sunset Blvd
Los Angeles CA 90026
213.989.1718


It’s a lame headline. I know. And what’s worse is that a great restaurant like Sage deserves something better. Oh, well. They’ll have to settle for a rave review instead. I’ve been to Sage twice now. The first time was with the head of Supervegan’s L.A. office. We went crazy and ordered way too much food. Also known as just the right amount. And we loved almost all of it and wondered how neither of us had been there before. Then I went back this week with Ms. Insufferable and she loved it, too.

This place is crazy good. Is it the best vegan restaurant I’ve ever been to? Well, I wouldn’t say I’ve been anywhere better. I’d put it right up there with Fatty’s Cafe, the Cinnamon Snail truck, and Au Lac as my favorites. I like to think it’d be the kind of place that meat eaters would try and love, but by now I know better than that. Hey, that could be its own post! And in fact, it just might be tomorrow’s! I mean, hey, if I have to do this 20 times I’m gonna need things to write about.

What I do know is that before I went vegan, back when I was eating meat, if I had been brought here I would have loved it. And I love it that they are expanding to Culver City in the spring, complete with pizza and a beer garden, and they intend to stay open till 2 a.m.!

Classic Tempeh Burger

Okay, if you don’t live in SoCal you might not care about all that, but maybe you will care about the food. So let’s get to it! Ms. Insufferable and I split two burgers, and they were both good. One was their “Classic Tempeh Burger” which as you can see comes with a HUGE block of tempeh. This seems like maybe the equivalent of five or six of the tempeh patties they give you on a Native Foods Scorpion Burger! Just massive. And it had a bright, citrusy taste to it even though the menu description of lettuce, tomato, avocado, mayo, mustard and onion didn’t lead me to expect that type of taste.

Jamaican Jerk Burger

As good as this was, we both thought the “Jamaican Jerk Burger” was better. This was a soft-to-the-point-of-flimsy black bean and walnut burger, with “jerked portabella and leeks,” sliced mango, caramelized onions, and mango saffron aioli.

Buffalo Croquettes

We also got an appetizer, the “Buffalo Croquettes” — three falafel balls tossed in buffalo sauce atop sage polenta, crispy onions, arugula and creamy horseradish sauce. Of all the big ticket items I tried in my two visits to Sage, this might have been the item I liked least. Their falafel was a bit on the dry side and wasn’t nearly as good as Sunnin or Habayit, and I didn’t love the combination of the dry falafel with the dry polenta. But hey, at a place as good as Sage, I’m determined to eventually try everything.

And as good as the burgers were, I didn’t like them as much as some of the items I got on my first visit to sage, like the “Bistro Po’Boy Sandwich” or the “Pesto Croissant Club Sandwich” which were really terrific.

All in all, if you’re a SoCal vegan and have never been, I’d say it’s a must, and if you’re a non-SoCal vegan who ever swings through L.A., it should be high on the top of your hit list.

Fatty’s & Whoa!

8 Jul

Fatty’s & Co
1627 Colorado Blvd.
Eagle Rock CA 90041
323.254.8804

You can find full-on shots of Fatty’s on Google, or you can simply enjoy my I don’t feel like walking across the street shot.

I am very proud of this headline because it is one of my worst ones yet. The name of this establishment is Fatty’s & Co, but it’s up for sale and I fear might close one day so I thought of calling this Fatty’s & Woe, but it is actually still open for the time being and I ate there for the second time and it was still so impressive I  went with Whoa!

I didn’t write about Fatty’s the first time because I hadn’t started my blog yet (you should check out my blog sometime) but I did include Fatty’s in my 10 best things I 8 in 11 list. And I probably will again for this year if I decide to do another trite list and since I’m pretty trite (and trite pretty, too) I probably will.

Now I know I recently said I was moving most of my restauranting onto Instagram, and it’s true I have (I’m like the Mapplethorpe of vegan food, except mine are in color and not good: @insufferablevegan) but I thought Fatty’s deserved its own post. So here goes, in yes particular order:

“Flaps”

The first thing we ordered was the “Flaps,” which are described on the menu as “super thin fries shaped like dachshund puppy ears served with a parsley and scallion remoulade dip.”  The first thing you might notice is that these aren’t “fries” — they are chips. Now in England chips are fries but in Los Angeles fries are not chips. So no matter how good they were — they were okay — they weren’t fries. It’s crazy enough to spend seven dollars on fries but I certainly wouldn’t have spent it on chips, even though the dip was impressive in its dairylikeness.

“Far East Rolls”

Up next were the Far East Rolls, and from here on out the food was tough to beat, so I’ll take the seven bucks I spent on potato chips and add one dollar in my mind to the cost of each of the next seven items instead. Yup, I said seven items. The Far East Rolls are really good if a bit on the greasy side, but hey, spring rolls are like that. I don’t mean to suggest they were soggy, they weren’t, in fact they were crisperfect, but they left your fingertips with enough oil to fuel a Phish-following microbus. They’re filled with spicy ginger seitan (let’s start a pool to guess the year that seitan is welcomed into the world of spellchecks) cabbage and carrots, and are served with a mango dipping sauce. And they are equally good with the sauce or without.

“The Special”

The next item isn’t one that I ordered. At first. But as I saw it make its way to other tables I realized the error of my non-ways to mine and made it come this way. Good call by me, as people said in the previous century. Do you have the slightest idea what you are looking at in the photo above? Avocado, check. Tomatoes, check, and an extra half-point if you said heirloom tomatoes, which to be frank I’ll be very disappointed if that’s what my grandfather passes down to me, but WHAT’S IN THOSE AVOCADOS? Keep guessing. Okay, time’s up. The answer is: sorbet. Okay, resume guessing. Tomato sorbet. Tomato sorbet made from those same heirloom tomatoes. Tomato sorbet made from those same heirloom tomatoes with Campari! And it worked. The very cold tomatoey taste with the somewhat cold avocado with the aged balsamic vinegar and olive oil it sat on made for the kind of new taste you think you’re all out of in life. It might have been more interesting than good, but that’s only because of how interesting it was. (Interesting is not a very interesting word.)

“Corn Tortilla Soup”

Then came soup and salad. We ordered two entrées, which each come with either soup or salad, so we got one of each. The soup was good but I only had a spoonful before it was stolen away from me by someone at the table who pulled it close and disappeared it.

“House Salad”

The salad, described on the menu as “House Salad,” was anything but. I mean, anything but what you’d think of as a restaurant’s “house salad.” It was a Frank Lloyd Wright salad as far as I was concerned. “A slaw of raw beets and apples tossed in balsamic and red onion vinaigrette with endive and pistachio garnish.”  So. So. Good.

“Corn Risoles”

Entrée time! By now it was getting dark, which is the Kryptonite of the iPhone 3G-S cam, so just picture these last few pictures looking brighter. First was the Corn Risoles, which are kind of like empanadas to a Philistine mind like my own, and they were sitting on a bed of pesto, which I hear is rough on the back although delicious, and stuffed with a tomato and multi-colored pepper salpicon, which was the second word in one menu item that I had to look up, and which basically means stuffing, and not something you’d better not step on barefoot, which is what I was picturing when I first saw the word. (I didn’t feel all that bad about my ignorance, because my friend-blogger SuperVegan, who started me down the Veganbrick Road (73-year-old reference that was old 71 years ago), and who knows way more about food than I will ever know, and who even makes some of it by herself (!), didn’t know either of these words either.) And it was delicious!

“Tri-colored Lentils”

The other entrée we got was the Tri-colored Lentils. This was my favorite item the previous time I went to Fatty’s. This was the item that earned the number two spot on my 10 best things I 8 in 11 list. And how did it fare against the memory of itself? Not bad. Memories are hard to compete against — they’re almost as hard to compete against as things that are way better than you. And memory can be forgetful, and not very remembering at all. And this might have been one of those unremembery memories because I remembered this dish looking nothing like this. In my mind it was not stacked cake-like, but rather spread out. And the lentils earned the tri-color title much more the previous time, with a vast display of bright orange lentils spread across the bowl. But like I said I could be misremembering this memory because I didn’t remember to ask our server if it had changed. Either way, it was still very good. And still served with a delicious Meyer lemon sauce. I just don’t remember if it was the same Tri-Colored Lentil spectacular I ate last year.

“Cotton Candy”

Dessert! You didn’t think I was done, did you? The cotton candy at Fatty’s is a ten dollar sky high Matterhorn of spun-to-order pure Vermont maple sugar. I know so because it says this on the menu. And it was pretty good. And I don’t like cotton candy. Because it sticks to your fingers. But this cotton candy did not stick to the fingers!!! And so I learned that the sticking-to-the-fingers part is not the only thing I don’t like about cotton candy. But the person who disappeared the soup disappeared half the Matterhorn pretty darn fast and loved it pretty darn much.

“Top Crust Apple Pie with Soy Cream”

I have only been vegan for 22 months and I remember pie. Was pie my favoritest thing in the world? Nope, but I did enjoy it from time to time. This apple pie was good on the inside (organic Fuji apples) but the pie part just wasn’t up to snuff. It was kinda cakey. Not cakey like you’d describe a cake, but cakey like you’d describe something that caked up. But the soy ice cream was good. Really, really good. Which brings us to the final item of the night.

“Organic Peanut Butter Gelato”

This was the organic peanut butter gelato with chocolate brandy sauce, and it was my favorite item. It came with half a strawberry (as did the pie) and some fresh peanuts on top, and the chocolate brandy sauce. For my money (not yours) I could have done with some more of the chocolate brandy sauce. But either way, this was really good. Did it knock you onto the floor and make you have to stand back up and re-seat yourself? No. But it was pretty much perfect in and of itself. I can’t imagine how it could have been better. (Except for a bit more of the chocolate sauce.)

And there you have it, a meal at Fatty’s & Co, the best vegan fine-dining experience in the greater Los Angeles area. I should mention here that Fatty’s is not 100 percent vegan. Some items are vegetarian. But what’s nice is that all items are vegan unless marked vegetarian, and not the other way around. I also feel that calling it the best vegan fine-dining experience in L.A. will immediately make people think of Madeleine Bistro. And Madeleine Bistro is great. I just don’t think it’s quite this good. And you simply cannot compare Madeleine Bistro’s space, which I find to be dingy and shopworn, to the light airy wonderful space that is Fatty’s.

So if you’ve never been to Fatty’s — go! If you wait too long it might not be there anymore. But if we hope too long maybe it will stay around forever. Or at least until I die. Because then you’re on your own.

Settling In

30 May

I’m a couple of weeks away from 21 months vegan and I feel like I’ve hit an equilibrium. I’m used to it. I’m not saying it was hard at first and then I gradually got accustomed to the change. Nope, it was surprisingly, I’d even say shockingly, easy from the beginning. I quickly found enough stuff that I liked to eat and then it became a matter of just filling it in at the edges. In fact, when this former meat lover recently walked into a Mexican restaurant, he was talking about himself in the third person. I mean, he smelled a few dozen strips of steak on the grill and almost gagged. Weird. I guess my body has made some changes, had some pathways re-wired perhaps.

I started this blog because when I stopped eating animal stuff my head was full of thoughts on the matter. I think I’ve now written about most of them. As a result, unintentionally, I see that I’ve been mostly writing about restaurants lately. Maybe this is useful to people in the greater Los Angeles area but is it interesting to those of you in other parts of America or around the world? Should I go back to my pseudo-philosophical essays? Should I keep it a mix of the two?

I also started putting some photos up on Instagram @insufferablevegan — different products I use, meals I cook, lunches I grab here and there that don’t warrant a full “review” or are from places I imagine you already know of and don’t need to read about at length. But I do get a little worried about food-porning it. Yeah this is good for the animals (I think and hope) but to start posting photos of glorious food for worship seems to be rubbing something in the face of people who can’t afford glorious food, whose lives don’t include the possibility of glorious food, who can’t even imagine that there are idiots out there using terms like glorious food, or who have no food at all (and presumably then no Internet).

I’m curious if other people felt a settling in at some point, if you started to feel that this is what you do now, whose friends started to all finally get it that this is what you do now and that it’s not a lark or a diet. And if so, at least for the people who have started this in the last year or two or three, do you think it’s about people getting used to it, or more about the vegan slow train coming? When I started this almost two years ago, when I met a certain supervegan and wasn’t even sure what the word meant, there probably wasn’t too much that could have been more alien to me than changing one of the basic activities of life. When I asked this person who had obviously thought through their connection to the planet way more than I ever had if they were “New Agey” I did it with zero awareness of  how I was the exact idiot who crosses my path every few months and asks me if I’m doing it “for spiritual reasons.”

But what feels most significant is that 21 months ago nobody was using the V word and now everyone seems to be and I think it’s for more than the way that when you learn a new word you suddenly start seeing it everywhere. I think there really is an eruption if not an explosion of vegan awareness, at least in what passes for educated, informed and aware society. There seems to be an interest level in the population that far exceeds the number of people who are actually vegan or vegetarian. People sit across the table from me chewing their chickens and telling me how they admire it or need to try it or are “getting there.”

I think this is a good sign. It’s probably a great sign. I’m old enough to remember when I told people that gays should be allowed to marry and they thought I was institution-worthy nuts. But as the older generations return to the earth and the pushmower of life brings up new ones, the attitudes have changed, and so with this too. (I’m comparing, not equating. Please don’t go ape-shit Mr. Animal Eater when I mention slavery, Nazis, suffrage or gulags. Please don’t ask me why I like animals better than humans. Does it really mean it’s open season on animal torture until the last starving child is fed?)

Thanks to everyone who’s been reading, following, commenting and retweeting.

Hopefully we’ll get to the point where a consensus is reached on the barbarism. And hopefully eating this way will let me live long enough to see it.

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