• sage vegan bistro: bringing meatless fine dining to echo park

    June 16th, 2011quarrygirlLA restaurants, sage vegan bistro

    lately the vegan restaurant scene in los angeles has been in a constant state of change. pure luck closed down, doomie’s moved from downtown to hollywood, native foods replaced m cafe in culver city, veggie grills are popping up in every part of town at an alarming rate…and with madeleine bistro’s fate looking uncertain at best, for a moment it seemed like we were losing our one meatless fine dining option in the city. enter sage vegan bistro.

    the small echo park eatery shares the bottom corner of the jensen rec center on sunset with kindkreme (a raw and dairy-free ice cream parlor) and has been open for a little over 3 months. the menu is ambitious to say the least, with a slew of lunch items (served all day), gourmet dinner fare (served after 5pm), and brunch on the weekends from 9am-4pm. the offerings are pretty creative as well—items such as banh mi spring rolls, almond crusted fried cheese, and white bean french cassoulet all sound incredible.

    i’d dined at sage once before, for brunch, and quite enjoyed it…so i was anxious to try them out for dinner. we stopped by over the weekend with our friends jen & jen, and i’m happy to report that our meal was excellent.

    polenta galettes topped with sauteed leeks and a raisin date spread.

    upon arrival, we were presented with lots of menus! the dinner menu, the lunch menu, and the kindkreme dessert menu…and everything on them was ours for the taking. there was even a “specials” menu written on a chalkboard hanging in the restaurant. we were a bit overwhelmed by the amount of choice, but i think we managed to get at least one thing off every menu.

    the kitchen actually brought us two appetizers on the house, and i had no complaints about that whatsoever. first up, the polenta galettes (pictured above). these cute little guys were from the dinner menu, and were absolutely divine. small polenta cakes fried to a crisp and topped with a nutty raisin date spread, sauteed leeks, and delicate greens. the perfect way to start a meal.

    jalapeno and daiya cheez wontons with fennel horseradish.

    our waiter also brought us a plate of jalapeno daiya cheez wontons, an appetizer from the lunch menu. i mean, just look at that presentation! isn’t it beautiful?! this is the kinda fancy-looking meal that vegans don’t get to enjoy very often. and they weren’t just pretty on the outside, the innards of these wontons were extremely tasty as well. spicy horseradish mixed with daiya cheese and jalapeno, it was the perfect amount of heat without being overwhelming.

    sampler plate: a selection of our sauces, cheeses and spreads with fresh baguette, cucumber and tomato. $6.95

    since the four of us were incredibly hungry (it was around 7pm, and none of us had eaten since breakfast!), we also ordered a sampler plate which came with an array of sauces, cheeses and spreads served with vegetables and slices of fresh bread. the bread was gone almost immediately, but sage was happy to bring us more to sop everything up with. a couple of the spreads contained bell peppers, so i did my best to stay away from those, but my favorites were the guacamole and horseradish.

    almond ricotta ravioli in fennel lavender marinara with seared baby arugula. $9.95

    for her entree, jen s went with the almond ricotta ravioli in fennel lavender marinara. this is the only dish on the table that i didn’t taste, but judging by the fact she ate every last bite, i’m assuming it was quite good.

    fried macaroni and cheese balls topped with horseradish sauce and served with a salad. $7.95

    jen k ordered the macaroni and cheese off the lunch menu, which turned out to be not just any plain old mac and cheese…but fried balls of mac and cheese. my jaw kinda dropped when this arrived at the table, and i wished i would have ordered it for myself. jen let me try some though, and it was awesome.

    it’s basically just how you’d imagine it—creamy vegan mac all fried to a crisp and topped with spicy horseradish. so epic, these are probably gonna go on the next vegan bucket list.

    special of the day: twice baked shepherd's pie with wild mushroom gravy. served with vegetables and peppercorn sauce.

    my husband ordered sage’s special of the day, a twice baked shepherd’s pie with mushroom gravy, vegetables, and peppercorn sauce. he let me try some and it was amazing—more like a baked potato than an actual pie, but absolutely delicious.

    jack daniels bbq jackfruit sandwich: marinated jackfruit, caramelized onion, baby arugula, garlic aioli, served open-faced an covered in homemade spicy bbq sauce. $8.95

    for my main, i went with the jack daniels bbq jackfruit sandwich. this messy beast came on a bun slathered with creamy garlic aioli and stacked with marinated jackfruit, caramelized onions and sauteed arugula, all covered in a spicy bbq sauce.

    i gave up on trying to eat this thing with my hands. it was so huge and sloppy, only a knife and fork could do the job. the homemade bbq sauce was fantastic, extra thick with the perfect balance of spiciness and sweetness. i’d definitely order this sandwich again.

    raw vegan chocolate brownie sundae from kind kreme. $10.99

    the jens were in the mood for dessert, so they split a gigantic brownie sundae from kindkreme. it came in a bowl literally the size of my head, and was covered in gooey chocolate. i tried a bite of it and it was ridiculously good—extra fudgy with some of the best vegan ice cream i’ve ever tasted.

    overall, our dinner at sage was wonderful. the cuisine was all so delicious and creative—from the comfort food deep fried mac and cheese, to the hearty and sloppy sandwich, to the gourmet-style galletes and wontons, and the decadent dessert. this place would be great for a date night, or a meal to impress omnivores. finally, a fancy-ish vegan restaurant in los angeles!

    Sage Vegan Bistro
    1700 West Sunset Blvd
    Los Angeles, CA 90026
    Tel. 213-989-1718
    Sun 9am-4pm & 5pm-10pm
    Mon-Wed 11am-10pm
    Thu-Fri 11am-11pm
    Sat 9am-4pm & 5pm-11pm

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22 responses to “sage vegan bistro: bringing meatless fine dining to echo park” RSS icon

  • I have to disagree. I’ve been there about four or five times now, and every time something hugely disappoints me. The jackfruit in the burrito was too soft and didn’t taste that great, the samosa sandwich was mushy and room-temperature (I couldn’t even eat half of it), the potatoes were also cold at breakfast…just, every single time, something’s been way off. I think they need to scale back their menu and refocus on trying to do less, and doing it well. Their menu is overambitious. The presentation’s beautiful, but the core concepts of the dishes need work.

    That’s not to say I don’t appreciate what they’re trying! I think they have some really great ideas, but I’ve been pretty much stunned at how bad one particular aspect of the meal was. Often the rest of the meal, or something someone else ordered, was really good.

  • I love Sage. It is walking distance from my house and I consider a go-to place these days. I’ve taken omnivore friends and family there, and they all enjoy it. I am so glad it’s in my neighborhood.

  • I agree with Jessica. The menu is probably over ambitious. I also come out of there smelling like I was sitting next to their deep fryer. I stuck my head into the kitchen and didn’t see any hood or exhaust system. I might be wrong but it is my best guess as to why the place smells like a fryer and why I do when I go there. Unfortunately I am not doing that anymore regardless of a really inspired effort.

  • I have to agree with Jessica on this one. I dined there three times, for brunch, lunch and dinner and every time was quite disappointed. At brunch, the potatoes were raw and my sides forgotten. At lunch, I had tacos with the same borderline yucky jackfruit Jessica refers to, and “gazpacho” that was actually just salsa. On the same note, I am not sure why they call the polenta cakes “galettes” considering they are most commonly known as a French free-form tart (i.e. http://www.seductionmeals.com/peach_blueberry_galette.jpg) I live right next to Sage and really want to like it, but I’m afraid of wasting my money again.

  • i like sage a LOT! haven’t had a bad experience… yet.

  • I can’t believe I neglected to offer you a taste of my ravioli. SHAME ON ME!!! I (stupidly) didn’t realize you were reviewing. It was awesome, so yes, you assumed right. Jen K. is obviously a better Jen than I. Next time, just dig in. I won’t mind. 🙂

  • Gauri Radha गौरी राधा

    It looks quite delicious at any rate, nice photos!

  • Now that Madeleine and Pure Luck are gone, Sage totally tops my favorite restaurant list. Have they worked out the kinks with the service yet? I haven’t been in a while but everytime I’ve been there there were mistakes, major wait times, etc. The food is so good it doesn’t bother me too much.

  • 2 free appetizers??? sounds like SOMEone knew this writer was going to review the place. NO ONE gets that kind of service there. I do not trust this is an OBJECTIVE review whatsoever. sounds more like a marketing campaign.
    quarrygirl ur getting way too ass-kissy and spreading youself thin lately. if someone has a pulse they can now write on your blog? it’s so much fluff. sure miss the times you called things as they were and didn’t give a F*ck. but this kind of reporting – sucks. U used to be cool but this is not cool. 🙁

  • I’ve been to Sage 3 times. 2 for dinner, and once for lunch. The food was always AMAZING, and I must say that I don’t understand the comments with negative experiences. Nothing was ever cold, and the service was great.

  • Ummmm, yeah, Quarry. How dare you take some nice photographs and write a positive review of a new vegan restaurant! That’s so uncool! Those mac and cheeseballs don’t look like an incredible vegan dish that I’d be lucky to try. What’s wrong with you.

    While you’re at it, please stop hosting uncool events like the vegan beer fest. Please stop uncool giveaways.

    And stop letting uncool people write posts for you, so that you can get the word out on more vegan places.

    How dare you?

    (Jackie is an idiot)

  • Wow! I am surprised by the negative feedback!

    I walked to Sage last night with a friend and we had good food and service! I ordered two dishes, one for dinner and another to have for lunch today. For dinner, I had the Jamaican Jerk Burger and my friend had the burrito. It wasn’t the best burger I ever ate, but it was creative, different from most other veggie burgers I’ve had and overall it was good. I also took a bite from my friend’s burrito which was delish! No complaints there- the tortilla had a nice crispiness to it that I really liked. I hate when burrito tortillas get soggy, so again, the crispiness was nice and the filling was great. My friend ate the whole thing and was also excited to return in the future to try more dishes. I also got the potato salad as a side, which was also good.

    For my to-go dish, I ordered the “chicken” and apple foccacia. I ate it today and it stood up pretty well until lunch time. It was also a different kind of sandwich and I really enjoyed it. For the side I got a side salad, which was also very good. Next time, I’d love to try the other foccacia sandwich with black beans and plantains. The “soul bowl” also sounded good, but decadent with deep fried mac n’ cheeze in the bottom! And the ravioli pictured above also sound good.

    I LOVE a restaurant that has a creative and gourmet focus and Sage is it. It’s not easy to work unconventional flavors together and I think Sage has done a pretty good job so far. They have only been open a short time, but I can say that, imo, they have definitely surpassed Mooi in food, atmosphere and service. The decor is nice and the place smelled great, not at all like a deep fryer as someone else mentioned (maybe it was the special they had that day?) So, I will be going back to Sage again and again to try more of the yummy sounding items. Plus, KindKreme is always outstanding. Srsly, my fav non-dairy ice cream. Haven’t had a flavor that wasn’t absolutely delicious yet!

    And just an fyi, I do not work for Sage, I don’t know anyone who works there and am not associated with the restaurant in any way. I was just very satisfied with my food and overall experience and encourage people in doubt to wait a few weeks and think about giving them another try.

  • O.M.G. Mac & Cheese balls!!!??? :p *slurp*

  • I ve gone there 3 times and they are 3/3. Honestly I am glad they’re getting the love that they deserve. Yes its a little on the pricey side, but it is mostly organic food so I understand. And not to mention they put a gourmet twist on everything. The cashew mac and cheese balls are freakin devine :p Im taking my dad there for fathers day actually. And then were gonna see forks over knives at the Laemmle in Pasadena. It starts showing on saturday so dont miss out!

    And that jackfruit sandwich at Sage, IMO kills pure luck. I dont want a sauce to dress up the lackluster service and food like at PL.

    Thank you sage 🙂

  • jackie, why you gotta be such a hater?

  • I went to Sage a few days ago and took 4 friends who hadn’t been there before…they couldn’t stop thanking me! Everything was absolutely delicious….I wish they would consider doing
    delivery as well.

  • This review REALLLLLY makes me want to try this place. It all looks awesome. Can’t wait.

    But fuck a $10.99 sundae. Seriously. I feel like the uber-expensive shit from kindkreme is so counter productive to the “cause” and just makes vegans look like elitist, yuppy snobs.

    Either way, the food looks amazing and I will be hitting up sage immediately.

  • I’m sure the prices are because of the ingredients they’re using. Coconut and cashew cream ain’t cheap.

  • Oh, most definitely. I’m not saying they are jacking up prices to take advantage, but I would kill for a really great vegan ice cream place in LA that wouldn’t break the bank (Carvel in Beverly Hills is probably the best option), Scoops is OK, but would love Sundaes etc…

    When I go out for ice cream I’m not thinking about being healthy. I want something that tastes awesome and is shitty for me.

    I’m just saying that you’ll never open up a non-vegan to the option of dairy free eating with a $10.99 sundae. I know that’s not their “plan” necessarily, but how could someone not scoff at that price?

  • I was nervous after seeing some of the negative feedback in this post, but I tried their brunch yesterday and was really delighted. The Spinach, Avocado and Walnut Sausage Florentine might be my new favorite brunch item in LA (seriously, I don’t know what food alchemy they’re using to make that ‘sausage’ but it’s wonderful). I had absolutely no complaints about the service either.

  • The best way to get comp’ed menu items at a restaurant is to walk in with a really nice camera.

    I don’t think Sage was told in advance or anything like that, but I imagine the presence of a camera is what did it. That, or pictures of what QG looks like are secretly getting spread around the vegan restaurant scene. *tin-foil hat*

  • Yes, I totally agree with Mary Beth on the spinach, avo and walnut sausage florentine was awesome!! so delicious and so was the sweet potato pancakes, yummy! For dessert, ice cream sandwich with cookies from Babycakes!!!! wow!!
    Their oven wasn’t working so there were few things we couldn’t order, bummer.
    Macaroni cheese balls looks sinful! I will order that next time.

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