I eat meat. Yup, I said it. It can be a tough statement to make in these parts of health conscious LA. I am health conscious and I do a lot of work to ensure that my food comes from the places it should and is handled with care. So I eat most everything, which does include meat and poultry, in moderation, but I also try and avoid gluten and dairy, so I love all the options that are now available in Los Angeles restaurants. I've written about Sadtha, which is a plant based Thai restaurant on Lincoln in Santa Monica. Loved the fresh flavors and inventive combinations. Cafe Gratitude also knocks out some interesting dishes amidst a free love vibe.
So I went into the year old vegan restaurant on Melrose, Crossroads, with a little trepidation. Tal Ronnen is the chef behind Crossroads. He's locked arms and knives with and for celebs like Oprah, Ellen DeGeneres and Portia de Rossi, but he's also written a NY Times bestseller, The Conscious Cook. He knows how to eat and cook healthy, and he's doing his best to bring an upscale dining experience to vegan food.
The dining room is quite Hollywood plush with oversized leather chairs that warmly embrace you when you sit. The bar is beautiful and pumping out interesting concoctions like a smoked mushroom infused bourbon topped with lime and agave, with a truffle dill cheese tuille floating on top. My "Happy Harlequin" had a great mix of lemon, mint and cucumber, but lest it sound too familiar, a blackberry hibiscus mamma chia is thrown in for good measure, and health.
The menu might read like your basic carnivore and free for all line-up, but crab cakes are actually made with hearts of palm. They look like them, but taste slightly different. They're sweeter, lighter, but equally delicious in their own right.
Artichoke oysters have pureed hearts placed on individual leaves and topped with crispy oyster mushrooms, kelp caviar and a yellow tomato bearnaise. An interesting string of ingredients that all work together, but I'm guessing you've never had before.
Vegans can also get a little naughty in the food world with the likes of polenta fries that are gluten free, as were most things on the menu. The fries were crisp, satisfying and great to dunk in the housemade balsamic ketchup.
Kale spanakopita is also gluten free, but flaky and fulfilling with a harrisa spiced tomato fondue with a drizzle of mint oil.
A special Moroccan eggplant was well spiced and cheesy (vegan of course) and really quite filling.
Did I feel like I was missing anything in any of my dishes? Not really. When you're working with such good ingredients and you know how to spice and combine flavors like Tal does, then you're not left wanting anything. I also knew that this was a one off experience plopped in between many other interesting meals I get to enjoy. It was a very good meal and one that I didn't feel crazy full after and ready for a food coma. But sorry vegan friends, I still like meat.
8284 Melrose Avenue
West Hollywood, CA
If you're looking for more plant based, vegan fare, try one of these Los Angeles restaurants.