i fucking LOVE tasting menus! they are so awesome. unlike my partner in crime, who finds them a bit scary and unpredictable, i find tasting menus very exciting and adventurous. several courses, over which you have no control, all extremely well-prepared and presented to you over a long period of time. really, the ultimate dining experience if you ask me.
other than the special holiday menus that madeleine bistro offers, i’d say the best place to get a vegan tasting menu in los angeles is without a doubt at bottlerock downtown. the establishment focuses on fancy beer and wine, and at first glance their menu isn’t very vegan-friendly…but if you call ahead and request it, they will prepare you an animal-free feast of epic proportions. just be sure to notify them in advance, because they take extra care to clean down the kitchen and avoid cross-contamination.
i hit up bottlerock with some friends recently, and their vegan tasting menu was completely different, but just as good as it was on my first visit. take a look:
the first course was a hearty portion of tofu served over lentils and mirepoix in a dijon vinaigrette. the tofu, in my opinion was nothing short of incredible. apparently, bottlerock has some special smoking device (haha) which was used to prepare it, and produced very delicate and flavorful results. the lentils and mirepoix (a combo of onions, carrots, and celery) were slightly sweet and very delicious.
the next course was a vietnamese crepe, which everyone agreed was spectacular. a soft outer shell filled with salty vegetables, this is honestly one of the best things i’ve eaten in a long time. we learned from our server that this is actually a veganized recipe from the chef’s mother…so tasty and authentic.
next up was my absolute favorite dish of the night: vegan miso soup. this was not like any soup i’ve ever had, as it was basically a filling noodle dish with bok choy and mushrooms. it came in a bowl and our server brought out broth to pour on it, such a fun experience! the noodles were very thick and made in house. for a tasting menu, this was honestly a huge portion. bottlerock does not skimp.
our 4th course was a serving of oven roasted vegetables, which may sound boring but was anything but! this plate included artfully prepared brussels sprouts, carrots, and squash in a sauce that was nothing short of divine.
lastly, we were served a dessert of textured strawberries which was like nothing i’ve ever eaten. it wasn’t a favorite of everyone at the table, but i loved it. imagine a strawberry puree topped with creamy basil sauce and finished off with a thin jolly rancher candy. i usually don’t like fruit, but this was right up my street and very creative.
overall, the dine in vegan experience at bottlerock is truly amazing. i would encourage all vegans to call ahead and book a tasting menu, because it really is like eating art straight off a plate. xiv has nothing on this place!
bottlerockTags: downtown la, tasting menu
1050 S Flower St. # 167
Los Angeles, CA 90015
last week, i had the pleasure of enjoying what was quite honestly one of the best meals of my life. our friends—who are also beer lovers and the wonderful people behind the quarrygirl iPhone app—invited us to have dinner with them at bottlerock downtown, a combination wine & beer retailer, tasting room and cafe. although there are only a few vegan dishes on the normal menu, our friends know someone who works at bottlerock and said they’d have no problem preparing us a special vegan meal.
when we arrived at bottlerock, they were ready for us. they had scrubbed down a section of the kitchen where our food was to be prepared, and had beer pairings on hand for each of our courses. i went in expecting some great beer and decent vegan fare, but i left completely elated and high on delicious flavors. i’m writing this post because i think it’s something everyone should try. let’s just jump right in and i’ll tell you all about what they served us:
the first course was a bowl of house root vegetables with fried capers and carrot miso. perfectly sweet with hints of vinegar, this is one of the best beet dishes i’ve ever tried.
the second course was fresh fava and pistachio falafel, served with cherry tomatoes, hummus, watercress and black olive oil. to say this falafel was amazing would be a gross understatement. it was extra thick and dense, not spongy like a regular chickpea falafel. the leaves were delicate and fresh, the tomatoes were juicy, and the hummus was extra creamy. everybody at the table was thoroughly impressed with this dish.
our third course was a small bowl of king trumpet mushrooms covered in greens, with crunchy almonds in an artichoke puree. the rich and smooth artichoke puree was so delicious, i could drink it straight. it was super thick and coated the leaves and mushrooms perfectly, giving everything a quite decadent taste.
course four was a dish of fried sushi rice and vegetables. it came sprinkled with some black flecks that i think were called ukari. i don’t know exactly what was in this rice, but whatever it was, i loved it. each grain was slightly fried and packed just the right amount of flavor and crunch.
the fifth course was gorgeously presented—a fingerling potato with beluga lentils, shaved celery and carrot curry sauce. this dish was definitely a standout, and everyone at the table was basically licking their plate to get every last drop of the sauce.
course number six brought together some of the best tastes i’ve ever had in my life. the dish consisted of a seared tofu patty with smoked parsnip sauce, a maitake mushroom atop a cipollini onion, and a mound of cumin spaghetti squash. OMG. if i could prepare tofu this way, i would never leave the house. the parsnip sauce, the succulent mushroom and the barely sweet onion were all perfect as well. to me, this course was pure bliss.
so by this point, we were all getting a bit full and tipsy. we’d had 6 dishes and a beer pairing to go with each one, so when they asked us how many more courses we had left in us we told them we could probably only make it through just one more. (i’m so curious as to what they would have brought had we requested several more.)
so with that they brought out course seven, our final and dessert course, a scoop of melon sorbet with reduced apple cider, plum, sweet potato and grated cashew. there were so many flavors going on in this thing, it was unreal. sweet, fruity, salty, and nutty all at once. a total party in my mouth.
after seven courses of this amazing food, the four of us could barely move. and i didn’t even get into the excellent beer pairings that bottlerock brought with each one. we tried so much stuff from from a fresh hopped IPA, to hefferveisen, to thick rich dessert beers. the staff was also super friendly and excited about the food, willing to explain all the flavors to us in detail. the chef even came out to meet us and told us that he whipped up everything with ingredients he had on hand, no special planning or preparation. wow, now that’s what i call talent!
so i bet you are wondering how you can experience this delicious food, because after all, none of it is on the menu. well, the chef told us that bottlerock could accommodate all vegans…it’s just a matter of getting creative and clearing off a preparation space in the kitchen. my advice would be to call ahead, make reservations for a tasting menu, and alert them to your veganocity. you may not end up with the exact courses we had, but you will end up with something amazing nonetheless.
so seriously, call bottlerock and get some of the amazing vegan food, wine and beer they have to offer. maybe if enough of us go there, they will add a vegan tasting meal to the normal menu. wouldn’t that be awesome? yeah, it would…because this is the best vegan tasting meal i’ve had in los angeles by far. who’s in? i am going back as soon as i possibly can.
BottlerockTags: alcohol, beer, beer, downtown la, tasting menu
1050 Flower Street # 167
Los Angeles, CA 90015