• July 22nd, 2010quarrygirlLA restaurants, madeleine bistro

    it’s almost the weekend, and that means madeleine bistro is getting ready to knock your socks off with another incredible tasting menu. from chef david’s blog:

    This weekend at Madeleine Bistro, we are offering a Five Course Chef’s Tasting Menu featuring the organic fruit of Etheridge Farms. I’ve known Gene Etheridge for many years, and I can say from personal experience that his fruit is the best that I have ever tried. He is also very passionate about what he does and is always eager to discuss his fruit and how he is able to bring out the best in each piece of fruit. This week, his peak fruits include “tasty treat” plums, “Santa Rosa” plums, yellow and white peaches and heirloom tomatoes. Here is the menu I created:

    Panzanella soup
    Heirloom tomato “cannoli”, basil oil

    “Tasty treat” plum carpaccio
    Pickled plums, green papaya noodles, toasted walnuts

    Grilled seitan with yellow peach barbecue sauce
    Yukon gold potato puree, grilled asparagus, shallot rings

    White peach-lemongrass dessert soup and sorbet
    Fresh berries, strawberry en gelee, mint oil

    S’mores flavors with plum ginger ale
    Chocolate ganache, graham crackers, marshmallow fluff

    sounds amazing, right?! the menu is going to be on saturday and sunday nights only, and is just $50 per person (dishes also available a la carte)! last time madeleine bistro had a tasting like this, it was $75 per person…so i highly suggest you take advantage of this low price! a quarrygirl reader went to the last etheridge farms meal and loved it so much that he wrote a wonderful review we ended up posting on the site.

    reserve a table now—i have a feeling this is gonna be an epic dinner you won’t wanna miss.

    madeleine bistro
    18621 Ventura Blvd.
    Tarzana, CA
    (818) 758-6971

  • July 17th, 2010quarrygirlLA restaurants, madeleine bistro

    okay, so i know i already posted the menu for this week’s chef tasting menu at madeleine bistro…but i had a chance to actually try out a few of the 5 courses today, and WHOA, this stuff is not to be believed. i don’t know what you have planned tonight and tomorrow, but you should seriously work in a visit to madeleine. this stuff is mind-blowing, even by dave anderson standards. oh, and i just wanna mention that the 5 course tasting menu is ONLY $50 (a steal), but each dish is also available a la carte for a lower price!

    the first thing i tried was the “egg” in the hole, a vegan take on the breakfast classic. nothing could prepare me for how good this thing was. it came with a soy-based egg stuffed in a piece of fried bread with portobella bacon and hash brown style rice balls, all of which were divine.

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  • July 8th, 2010quarrygirlLA restaurants, madeleine bistro

    LA’s finest vegan restaurant, madeleine bistro, is switching it up a bit this summer. they’ve changed their hours, their menu, and they are now BYOB (with NO CORKAGE FEE, woo!). the new menus are looking pretty insane, and we have all the details right here. so listen up!

    new vegan guilty pleasures menu

    over the summer, madeleine bistro will only be open friday through sunday, and will offer a new “guilty pleasures” menu and a chef’s tasting menu every night, as well as brunch during the day on the weekends. the guilty pleasures menu consists of decadent vegan comfort food like onion rings and shamrock shakes, and the tasting menu will change each week with 5 elaborate courses for just $50! this is a great deal, considering madeleine bistro holiday tasting menus can cost upwards of $100. i suggest you jump on this while it’s available. madeleine is also now doing weekly home delivery, find out more on that here.

    new weekly chef tasting menus

    here are the new menus and hours:

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  • June 26th, 2010quarrygirlLA restaurants, madeleine bistro

    well ladies and gentlemen, this is a first! we just received a post in the quarrygirl forums (aka quarrums) that was so awesome, we decided to publish it on the main blog. check out tettes’ in depth review of tonight’s special madeleine bistro tasting menu. the food writing here is exquisite, and you are all in for a real treat. this review makes me so sad that i wasn’t there, and reminds me that i need to eat madeleine bistro tasting menus WHENEVER POSSIBLE. here you go:

    I checked out the tasting menu at Madeleine Bistro on Saturday, June 26 and it was so mouth-wateringly amazing I wanted to share my experience with you guys. I wish the photos did the food justice!

    First up:

    Rainier cherry gazpacho: Cherrywood-smoked corn panzanella, crostini, avocado foam

    How it tasted: The gazpacho was more like a thin pudding rather than a soup. Pretty spicy with a tangy finish and just a hint of cherry sweetness. The corn gave it a playful smokey flavor, but it didn’t overwhelm the dish as smokey flavors can often do. The corn and crostino gave the dish a much-needed textural contrast. And I’ve never had avocado foam before. It was light, fluffy and fun to eat! Chef Dave told me this puree-like gazpacho comes from Spain, and he adds toasted bread to the gazpacho and purees until it reaches perfection.

    Next up:

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  • June 24th, 2010quarrygirlLA restaurants, madeleine bistro, vegan events

    UPDATE 6/25/10: i just found out from madeleine bistro, that anyone who mentions that they heard about this tasting menu from quarrygirl will receive a $10 discount PER PERSON! you gotta take them up on it! also, please note that dinner is anytime between 5:30 and 7pm…and the discussion starts at 7, if you are interested in that.

    hey everyone! just a quick heads up that our favorite restaurant in los angeles, madeleine bistro, is having a very special tasting menu this saturday june 26th at 5:30pm. not only will there be an extravagant 5 course meal using etheridge farms produce prepared by chef david anderson, but organic farmer gene etheridge himself will be on hand for a discussion.

    it sounds AMAZING. and let me tell you, the best meal of my life was a madeleine bistro tasting menu…so i highly suggest you make a reservation!

    check out the menu below:
    Read the rest of this entry »

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  • June 16th, 2010mr meanerLA restaurants, madeleine bistro

    I wish I lived closer to Madeleine Bistro (or, rather, I wish it would move closer to me).

    I’ve been known to find any excuse to be in Tarzana around brunch time on the weekends, so I can pop in and grab a donut, benedict, phillet-no-phish and a sumptuous dessert before going about my day. In fact, many people I know usually frequent Madeleine Bistro for the extensive and good value brunch menu (only served at weekends, but the lunch menu served during the week has many of the same items on it).

    This last weekend, I had occasion to celebrate a palindromic birthday and could think of no place I’d rather be than Madeleine Bistro for dinner. I teamed up with three other ravenously hungry people and we set about eating our way through the menu. After all, and statistically, I’m over 50% through my palindromic birthdays, so this was a night to celebrate.

    Hurling caution to the wind, we started out with some assorted small plates, salads and appetizers while we waited for the alcohol buzz of the organic lager and wine to settle in.

    Classic French onion soup, crouton, farmer's cheese. $7

    First-up was the “Classic French onion soup”: I’ve only ever had this type of dish once before in my life – in Paris (of all places) where I managed to find one with no meat stock in it. Well, Madeleine’s take on veganizing this dish is incredible. The soup is a hearty gathering of tangy onions and garlic in a rich sauce that one practically chews rather than sips. Sprinkles of “farmer’s cheese” on top made my day. If you’ve never had French onion soup, this is a must-have experience I can tell you.

    Classic mac 'n cheese, bacon bits. $13

    Next came the “Classic Mac ‘n’ Cheese”, a dead ringer for the non-vegan dish, but with a twist I’d never seen before: “bacon bits” that were made out of thinly sliced, crispy mushrooms. They went perfectly with the gooey cheese and chewy macaroni, leading me to rate this as one of the best vegan mac n cheeses I’ve ever eaten. And I’m something of a connoisseur by now, for sure.

    French lentil salad, chardonnay cheese, spring mix, green goddess dressing. $10

    We got a “French Lentil Salad” to share, which came with spring leaves and something called “Chardonnay Cheese”. Despite the fact that this dish looked like a phallus it was gone within seconds. I took some leaves, spicy lentils and cheese and ate them all together in one mouthfull, and without a doubt this was one of the highlights of the evening, and I’m not sure I’ve ever said that about a salad before!

    Porcini-crusted tofu scallops, shiitake-green bean ragout, carrot syrup. $13

    Continuing in the vein of small plates, we ordered the “Porcini-crusted Tofu Scallops” which were undoubtedly the most surprising dish of the night. We were treated to round, crispy tofu “scallops” in a very, rich mushroom sauce along with perfectly cooked vegetables. There were four people at the table, and we had one scallop each: left to me I’d have eaten all four and ordered another plate as well! They really were that interesting. Crispy on the outside, soft and steamy on the inside. This is right up there with the best of Executive Chef Dave Andrerson’s “how the hell do they do that?” dishes, along with the donut and souffle (of which more later).

    Red beet tartare, warm tofu cheese crouton, cucumber, balsamic glace. $13

    We also grabbed a “Beet Tartare”, which has to be one of the most astounding vegan dishes available anywhere in the world. I’ve known people travel to LA from the Bay Area and beyond, purely for a fix of this menu item. And I can see why. Cool, thinly sliced cukes, a warm fried cheese crouton topped with finely chopped red beets not only looks like a work of art, but it tastes like one too. There are few adjectives to describe this creation so, in common with the rest of the menu, I usually just advise you to get one into your life (and, by eating, out of it again real fast) as soon as you can.

    Chicken-fried seitan, mashed potatoes, gravy, vegetable medley. $13

    Surprisingly, we had room for entrees, so we ordered the “Chicken-fried seitan” for one of our guests who happened to be an omnivorous girl from The South (a tough customer for any dish with “fried” and “chicken” in its name, for sure). After eating the whole thing, she proclaimed “That might be the best Fried Chicken I’ve eaten outside of Dixie, y’all” (actually, I’m doing a caricature of what she said, but you get the idea. She liked it for sure).

    The "Bigger Macque" (two no beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese...) $11

    Although I love fine dining with nice wines and great company, a superb addition to the entrees at Madeleine’s is the “Bigger Macque”, and no matter what the occasion I always find an excuse to order one. This sandwich is a loosely based facsimile of the well known fast-food item, which has been served to billions and billions of poor bastards, but just better. In every way. You have to get one of these at some point in your life, just as I have to get one of these at some point in every visit to Madeleine’s.

    Phillet no phish (panko-crusted seitan, cheese, tartar sauce, whole wheat bun) $10

    As if by magic, the corollary to the above dish also arrived at the table: “The Philet no phish”, another cheeky take on crappy fast food, incredibly elevated to fine dining status. Yeah, I had a nibble of that too: crispy seitan, cheese and tartar sauce. Another amazing dish.

    Rustic mashed potatoes. $5

    Other things on the table at that point included a healthy portion of “Rustic Mashed Potatoes”, a perfectly cooked heap of creamy mash covered in gravy as well as a side of “Pan-roasted cauliflower”.

    Pan-roasted cauliflower. $6

    It’s safe to say that if I could make mashed potatoes or cauliflower this good, I’d probably never leave my house and would OD on the deadly cocktail of cauliflower and mash, when eaten by the ton.

    Lemon-rosemary seitan, cauliflower crepe. $13

    Our last entree of the night (we were getting pretty full by this time) was the intriguingly-named “Lemon-rosemary seitan, grilled asparagus crepe” which was like nothing I’d ever eaten before. Tangy, perfectly chewy seitan, was laid to rest on a fluffy crepe filled with creamy cauliflower. Let me tell you, the combination worked perfectly. The lemon and rosemary fired up one’s mouth, and the cool, creamy crepe rode in to save the day with a creamy after-texture and after-taste to die for.

    Shockingly, we found room for desert (I’m still not sure how, but Madeleine’s is one of those places I can go to, eat myself silly and feel perfectly content — never over-stuffed and certainly never needing more).

    classic cheesecake, raspberry coulis, whipped creme. $11

    We enjoyed our deserts dim-sum style, so we all had a bit of each just to prove how cosmopolitan we are. First-off was the “Classic Cheesecake”, another perfectly made dish sitting proudly on a delicious raspberry coulis with a tuft of whipped creme topping. I was told that the birthday candle was inedible — the only thing in the place I would not therefore eat.

    strawberry shortcake, almond cake, rhubabrb ice cream. $12

    I was delighted to also try the “Strawberry Shortcake”. It has strawberries. It is a cake, but this was not a short order — a huge brick of fluffy and spongy cake arrived and was consumed before our attentive server got back to the kitchen to bring our next dessert item: “Bananas Foster Split”, a tremendous triumvirate of bananas, hot fudge and whipped cream, with an order of ice cream and chocolate sauce thrown in for good measure. Another amazing dessert, another plate emptied to shining within seconds.

    Banana foster split, hot fudge, whipped creme. $10

    Finally, my favorite desert – not only of the evening, but of all time – arrived from the kitchen like an angel from a heaven: “Chocolate souffle with vanilla ice cream”. I tell you, this dish knows how to make an entrance! There are two ramekins, one containing stone cold ice cream, and the other containing a crispy-crusted chocolate souffle with gooey chocolate sauce inside. Just eat a bite of chocolate (which is oven-hot) with a bite of ice cream, and your mouth will thank you for an eternity.

    chocolate souffle, vanilla ice creme. $12

    I’m remembering my last birthday with such fondness: A three course meal, book-ended with the heretofore unattainable French Onion Soup, and rounded off with a another uniquely French creation: Chocolate Souffle is an experience to savor for a long time. As I know I and my guests also will.

    Executive Chef Dave Anderson’s creations are at the arc of vegan cuisine, second to none and lovingly prepared and served. Whatever your occasion to dine out — or even if you don’t have an occasion — you really must try Madeleine Bistro if you’ve not been yet. For a quick and informal time, show up for the weekend brunch and dine on scrambles, doughnuts or the Bigger Macque. For a family occasion or intimate dinner, make some reservations and dine away the evening with one of the best menus on this good earth, superb service and an atmosphere that only a family owned and run restaurant can deliver.

    See you there!

    Madeleine Bistro
    18621 Ventura Blvd
    Tarzana, CA 91356
    (818) 758-6971

    Hours of Operation

    Wednesday through Thursday
    Lunch: 11:30 am – 2:00 pm
    Dinner: 5:00 pm – 9:30 pm

    Lunch: 11:30 am – 2:00 pm
    Dinner: 5:00pm – 10:00pm

    Brunch: 10:00am – 3:00pm
    Dinner: 5:00 pm – 10:00 pm

    Brunch: 10:00am – 3:00pm
    Dinner: 5:00 pm – 9:00 pm

    closed Monday & Tuesday

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  • May 6th, 2010quarrygirlLA restaurants, madeleine bistro

    what’s the difference between us, and people like ellen degeneres? well, ellen and other famous herbivores of the like can afford to have the top vegan chefs in the country prepare them fine meals throughout the week that they will never tire of—they don’t have to worry about cooking or grabbing something to-go for dinner every night.

    but now thanks to madeleine bistro, us normal folks can have the same privilege. for a reasonable price, los angeles residents can enjoy several days worth of entrees, sides, soups, and treats all made by dave anderson, one of the best vegan chefs on the planet. that’s right, the playing field has been leveled between us and ellen. unfortunately, we still have to do our own dishes.

    we were lucky enough to be some of the first ones to test the new box concept by madeleine bistro, and here’s a look at what came in our package…

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  • March 3rd, 2010quarrygirlLA restaurants, madeleine bistro

    there’s an adage that says: “those who can, do. those who can’t, teach.”. clearly, that’s not remotely accurate as many wonderfully productive people can also teach up a storm, particularly the talented dave anderson, executive chef at madeleine bistro.

    ever had one of his ice creams that are so light and flavorful that you want third helpings?
    ever eaten chunks of his pan-roasted vegetables by the dozen?
    ever wondered what goes into making such sublime sauces?

    well, if you have (and if you’ve ever eaten at madeleine’s you’ll be on the same page here) are you not just a little intrigued as to how dave and the team invent, prepare and cook such amazing food?

    thankfully for curious minds, madeleine bistro offers cooking classes/demonstrations on the weekends (the next one being this saturday!) where average folks like you and me can not only learn some of chef dave’s secrets, but enjoy an artfully-prepared three course meal as well. we sat in on the most recent class and gained some culinary wisdom that will last a lifetime.

    pan-roasted califlower in filo with roasted butternut squash and cauliflower puree.

    the class we attended included recipes and instruction on three separate courses, with the focus being on roasting and braising. the first course, pictured above, was pan-roasted cauliflower in filo with roasted butternut squash and cauliflower puree.

    we got to watch and absorb the whole cooking process, from the pan-roasting of the cauliflower, to the oven-roasting of the butternut squash, to the forming and shaping of the beggar’s purses…

    for the main course, chef dave schooled us in the art of braising with braised tempeh, braised root vegetables, and cabernet-roasted mushroom sauce.

    braised tempeh with braised root vegetables and cabernet-roasted mushroom sauce.

    everything in this course was wonderful, from the finely cubed vegetables to the browned tempeh slices and flavorful sauce. again, we saw the process from start to finish. i have never learned so much in two hours!

    from the chopping of brunoise root vegetables…

    to roasting vegetables for the cabernet-roasted mushroom sauce…

    to making the roux for the sauce (woo a roux!)…

    to preparing the tempeh…

    and the finished product was just exquisite, vegans and non-vegans alike were singing its praises.

    lastly, even our dessert course implemented braising and roasting techniques.

    the last course consisted of pears braised in riesling, agave and vanilla bean, along with homemade ice creme made from baked sweet potatoes.

    the dessert turned out perfectly, and i loved every last bite even though i’m not a big sweet potato or pear fan. seriously, i was licking the plate. when it was served, it even came with a dollop of dave’s special coconut whip cream (which he would not give away the secret to).

    overall, the madeleine bistro cooking class was a huge success. the students gathered around in the dining area and watched intently as chef dave prepared each course and explained his methods. the students didn’t do any actual cooking themselves, but were free to take notes and ask unlimited questions. i really enjoyed the way chef dave ran the class, and i left with a stack of invaluable recipes and a wealth of knowledge. plus, dave was ridiculously funny and laid back throughout the lesson, making for a really fun environment.

    madeleine bistro usually hosts cooking classes every other week, the next one being this saturday march 6th. each class is $75 per person, which includes a 3-course meal! money well spent, if you ask me.

    so be sure to contact madeleine bistro and sign up for the next cooking class that you can. hope you love it as much as i did!

    madeleine bistro
    (818) 758-6971
    18621 Ventura Blvd.
    Tarzana, CA

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  • February 11th, 2010quarrygirlLA restaurants, madeleine bistro, Uncategorized

    the best place to have an extravagant, relaxing, delicious brunch in los angeles is without a doubt madeleine bistro. the entirely vegan restaurant located in tarzana specializes in organic, elegant, and cutting-edge cuisine. i dined there recently with a large group of friends and strangers, and our table was covered with some of the most amazing food i’ve ever eaten. i didn’t get pictures of everything, but here is just some of what we had…

    beignets, organic fruit compote. full order. $8

    we started with a couple of orders of beignets to pass around the table. the small fried dough balls were perfectly fluffy with a sugary outer-coating.

    fresh organic donuts. $2/each

    we also shared a few plates of donuts, which are so good they defy description. there’s a reason we put these things on the bucket list of must-try vegan food in los angeles.

    red beet tartare, warm tofu cheese crouton, english cucumber, balsamic glace. $12

    a couple red beet tartares were ordered as well, to be shared by some of the diners around the table. this is madeleine bistro’s signature dish, and a must order if you are a first time visitor. the most incredible mixture of soft beets atop a warm cake tofu cheese and doused in balsamic glace, it’s a culinary masterpiece.

    porcini-crusted tofu benedict, smoked portobella, rosti potatoes, hollandaise sauce. $15

    sitting across from me, polly from veggywood ordered the porcini-crusted tofu benedict, which looked like layer upon layer of pure scrumptious-ness.

    waffles and "chicken": belgian waffles, seitan chicken, mashed potatoes, gravy. $16

    brittany from sick of lettuce ordered the waffles and chicken, which looked so good, i will be sure to order it next time. her plate came with a huge stack of fluffy waffles, crispy chicken-fried seitan and a mound of mashed potatoes.

    plus it was all smothered in madeleine bistro’s incredible gravy….something i could drink by the gallon.

    lemon rosemary seitan with cornbread stuffing.

    melisser from the urban housewife went with an order of lemon rosemary seitan and sourdough stuffing. i have eaten this exact seitan at madeleine’s before, and i can tell you it’s nothing short of divine.

    the bigger maque: two no-beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese... $11

    also at the table was a bigger maque, definitely a contender for the best vegan burger in los angeles. this thing comes stacked with two patties, layers of cheese and fresh vegetables. it’s like a gourmet, cruelty-free version of the old mcdonald’s favorite.

    phillet no phish: panko-crusted seitan, cheese, tartar sauce, whole wheat bun. $10

    the phillet no phish was also ordered, and this is seriously one of my favorite things on the menu. panko-crusted seitan, cheese, and tartar sauce all on a soft wheat bun. if you are a sandwich lover, this has got your name on it.

    madeleine club: chicken-fried seitan, tempeh bacon, sourdough. half order $6

    already approaching food coma from the donuts, i went with a half order of the madeleine club. it came with chicken-fried seitan and tempeh bacon on sourdough, and it really hit the spot.

    vegan crème brûlée

    for dessert, natalie aka vegan kitten, ordered the vegan creme brulee. she snapped the gorgeous pic above, and for more of her madeleine bistro photos you should check out her flickr set.

    organic mimosas

    and of course, what long and lazy weekend brunch would be complete without at least a couple of mimosas? madeleine bistro offers those as well.

    seriously the brunch at madeleine is absolutely epic, and what you see here is only about half of the food on the table. i couldn’t think of a better place to spend a few hours having a meal. pure food bliss, i tell you!

    madeleine bistro
    (818) 758-6971
    18621 Ventura Blvd.
    Tarzana, CA

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  • January 24th, 2010quarrygirlLA restaurants, madeleine bistro

    Phillet no phish: panko-crusted seitan, cheese, tartar sauce, whole wheat bun $10

    it’s sunday, and if you don’t have brunch plans, i highly suggest you drive out to tarzana and have a meal at madeleine bistro. recently i tried their phillet no phish (a vegan gourmet take on the popular fast food sandwich), and i was completely blown away. seriously, i’m thinking or re-writing the LA vegan bucket list and adding this thing in.

    it’s absolutely huge with a hearty chunk of breaded seitan, homemade vegan cheese, and creamy tartar sauce on a fluffy bun. while i love pretty much everything i’ve tried at madeleine bistro, this is definitely my favorite item so far.

    madeliene bistro is serving brunch today from 10am-3pm, but luckily if you can’t make it, this sandwich is also served on their dinner menu. go check it out, you won’t be sorry!

    madeleine bistro
    (818) 758-6971
    18621 Ventura Blvd.
    Tarzana, CA

    check their website for hours!

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  • January 6th, 2010mr meanerLA restaurants, madeleine bistro

    Sometimes you just want to eat good food in a relaxing atmosphere. Sometimes you want that food to be extraordinary, hand-crafted and completely original menu items you won’t get anywhere else. Always, you want that food to be vegan. Am I striking a chord here? Good, then I’ll continue. What if that food comes to your table as a seven-course tasting menu prepared by one of America’s top vegan chefs? Oh, and finally, it happens to be some of the best food you’ve ever eaten?

    Well that experience, we learned a few days ago, is very common for vegans “in the know” who book early and are lucky enough to get a table at Executive Chef Dave Anderson’s Madeleine Bistro for one of his special occasion tasting menu treats. We showed up for the New Year’s Eve event not really knowing quite what to expect and left blown away by his creativity and skills in the kitchen.

    To be honest, I’m rarely a fan of tasting menus. It’s like being in a car at the top of a hill with no brakes, careering to the bottom and trusting the chef to take care of you through multiple courses, delivering you safe and satisfied to the bottom. Only the finest chefs can deliver a consistently strong tasting menu, especially when they set themselves ridiculous targets like seven courses. SEVEN COURSES? It’s about all most restaurants can do to prepare ONE half-decent course, with a limp salad appetizer let alone serving after serving of excellence.

    For a tasting menu to be successful, each course has to have broad enough appeal that pretty much anybody will like it, yet be outstanding in taste, texture and (on occasion) sheer novelty and construction value that one will occasionally wonder “how did they do THAT?”. Only the best chefs can really pull this off, and they inevitably take a huge personal risk that a high stakes game will play out in such a way that everybody is happy. I’m pleased to report that chef Dave not only filled my belly with incredible food, but peaked my interest with every course due to its presentation and even, on occasion, whimsical novelty.

    course #1: dim sum. steamed seitan bun, tempeh lollipop, crispy wonton.

    Let’s take the first course, dim sum, as an example. The description of this dish included “tempeh lollipop” as one of the items. I mean C’MON? a TEMPEH LOLLIPOP? Yeah, that’s just what it was. A ball of tempeh seasoned and lightly fried so that it is crispy yet breaks apart with ease in one’s mouth. I guess chef Dave’s challenge was how to make such a creation easily edible – I mean, you will want to dip it in the dim sum sauce, but poking it with a fork would break it up, and chopsticks wouldn’t really work with the other menu items, so he stuck a stiff leaf stem into the ball in order that you could pick it up, dip it in, and eat it right up. See what I mean about interesting presentation and construction? Genius.

    Accompanying the lollipops was a crispy wonton that defies explanation (so I won’t bother) and a sticky, seitan-filled bun that just begged to be cut up, dipped in sauce and eaten straight down.

    The three items resonated perfectly together and provided an intersection of taste and texture I’d never experienced before.

    One down, six to go. Next up was simply “Clam chowder in a bread bowl”.

    course 2: clam chowder in a bread bowl

    I have no idea what “real” clam chowder tastes like, but this thing was fucking amazing. So much so that I not only ate ALL the chowder, but the bread bowl as well. Only after I did was I told that usually one leaves some of the bread. I was brought up poor and forced to eat everything on the table, so I guess old habits die hard. The server told me that the bread was baked from scratch in-house, and the chowder was a special creation of chef Dave. No shit, “special” is an understatement. This stuff should be in a can and sold everywhere, it was SO AMAZING.

    Next up was some respite in the form of a delicate salad of chestnuts and apples with a mulled cider vinaigrette and fennel puree.

    course 3: chestnut and apple salad, pickled pearl onions, fennel puree, mulled cider vinaigrette.

    It was, again, simply amazing. The fennel puree looked a little like guacamole, yet had that smooth, almost aniseed taste that bumped perfectly up against the salad dressing. What another amazing combination of tastes and flavors!

    Course four was both simple and unique. On one side of the court was a tangine of artichokes and chickpeas (who would ever have thought they would go so well together?) and the other was a crusty slice of seitan on a bed of greens divided by something called a “harissa emulsion”.

    course 4: quinoa-crusted moroccan seitan, artichoke and chickpea tangine, lemon confit, harissa emulsion.

    I ate the dish like a game of tennis – grab some from one side, drag through the emulsion, grab some from the other side, back again then put it in my face. Rinse, and repeat. Again, another dish that’s really hard to describe, but there was a full and complete flavor, almost moorish yet not overpowering.

    Coming right out of left field was the next dish: Arugula tagliatelle, portabella mushroom and a mushroom ragout.

    course 5: portabella chasseur, house-cut arugula tagliatelle, wild mushroom ragout.

    Thankfully the portion was compact as I ate the entire thing and would have been way to full for the subsequent servings! I’m half Italian, and grew up eating my mother’s Italian cooking (she’s not the Italian half, but that’s a long story) so I’m a genetic expert in Italian cuisine and I can honestly say that this dish, served as a main entree, would be within the top two or three pasta dishes I’ve ever eaten. It was simply that good. Yes, and they even MADE the pasta itself from scratch!

    Into the home stretch came “popcorn and cheese”, a strange sounding combination of a herb-crusted cashew cheese and biscuits…

    course 6: popcorn and cheese: herb-crusted cashew cheese, kettle corn, crackers, popcorn ice creme.

    with a plate of popcorn ice cream surrounded with (you guessed it) freshly popped warm popcorn.

    I was skeptical when the plates arrived – I mean, give me one or the other, but BOTH? How can popcorn ice cream possibly go with cheese and biscuits which are anyway usually reserved for the post-drink cognac or port phase of a meal? Well, I was wrong. Everything was amazing and all created from scratch in chef Dave’s kitchen. The cheese was smoother and creamier than any premium vegan cheese I’d ever eaten before, and it slipped so well onto the warm biscuits and down my throat. The popcorn ice cream was a party in my mouth of cold ice cream and warm popped corns.

    Finally, as I was begging for mercy, our cheerful server brought out two large plates of something called “3X3”, chocolate, peanut butter and caramel.

    course 7: 3x3. chocolate, peanut butter, and caramel.

    This was actually three separate deserts, all cleverly uniting three scrumptious desert flavors. Dish one was a cheesecake sort of contraption with a layered approach to the three ingredients. Dish two was three individual chocolates in little paper cups, like something you’d get out of a very expensive box from Switzerland, and the third dish splayed out the ingredients in an almost mathematical shape so you could pick at them and mix to your heart’s content. The desert was actually shocking: that sweets of this quality could be made at all either vegan or not is astounding.

    So to sum up, the journey down the hill with no brakes felt as if chef Dave and his team were actually carrying the vehicle. No bumps, smooth sailing and a safe return to the end, weighing a few ounces more than I did at the beginning but expanding my horizons of taste and appreciation for food and the fine art of fine cuisine. Indeed, my experience with the New Year’s eve tasting menu has set the standard by which all other food will be judged for 2010. That’s either a good thing or a bad thing depending how you look at it!

    For sure I’ll be back to Madeline for the amazing brunch, or dinner before the next tasting menu extravaganza for Valentine’s day, 2010. Although the dishes we ate might not be available again on a predictable basis, you can count on a great dining experience you’ll never forget.

    This menu was prix fix at $100 per person, which is unquestionably a lot of money for food, yet really good value when you think less about what you pay and more about what you get. It is, frankly, a privilege to eat food like this at any price especially bearing in mind the hours of design, testing preparation and final cooking that shine through in every bite.

    Madeleine Bistro
    18621 Ventura Blvd.
    Tarzana, CA
    (818) 758-6971

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  • December 30th, 2009quarrygirlLA restaurants, madeleine bistro

    i just got word that madeleine bistro (one of the top vegan restaurants in LA) is offering a whopping 7 course chef’s tasting menu on new year’s eve! they still have some spots left, and if you don’t have plans you should definitely check it out. madeleine serves up the best food i’ve ever eaten.

    here is the info:

    Happy Holidays!!
    Reservations are still available for a very special New Year’s Eve at Madeleine Bistro.  Each year, Chef David goes to great lengths to create a tasting menu that will amaze, amuse, surprise, and delight you.  If you are looking to end the year tastefully — you won’t want to miss this one!  A limited version of our a la carte menu will also be available.  We hope you’ll join us in ringing in the new year!
    Warm wishes,

    Molly & David

    New Year’s Eve 2009 Chef’s Tasting Menu

    Thursday, January 31, 2009 5 pm – 10pm

    100 per person

    “Dim sum”

    Steamed seitan bun, tempeh “lollipop”, banh chung

    “Clam” chowder in a bread bowl

    Chestnut and apple salad

    Pickled pearl onions, fennel puree, mulled cider vinaigrette

    Quinoa-crusted Moroccan seitan

    Artichoke and chickpea tagine, meyer lemon confit, harissa emulsion

    Portobella “chasseur”

    House-cut arugula tagliatelle, wild mushroom ragout

    Popcorn and cheese…

    Herb-crusted cashew cheese, kettle corn “crackers”, popcorn ice creme

    “3 x 3”

    Chocolate, peanut and caramel

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  • November 26th, 2009quarrygirlLA restaurants, madeleine bistro

    update november 2010: madeleine bistro is doing thanksgiving with the turkeys AGAIN this year!! thanksgiving day from 10am – 3pm. this was honestly the most special thanksgiving meal of my life…so i highly suggest you book a table asap. if you aren’t free on thanksgiving day, madeleine bistro is also doing take-out holiday meals. give ’em a call!

    beautiful turkey at madeleine bistro

    hey my fellow herbivores, i hope you all had a lovely holiday and managed to avoid the stench of dead flesh…we sure did! we had a magnificent brunch at one of LA’s top vegan restaurants, madeleine bistro. the los angeles vegan thanksgiving offerings this year were plentiful, so we had quite a hard time deciding where to eat. the deal was pretty much sealed though, when we saw that madeleine bistro would be bringing in healthy, happy turkey friends from animal acres to join in the celebration!

    we booked a table for mid-morning and were happy to see that madeleine bistro would be offering not only a thanksgiving five-course fix prixe meal, but also some holiday specials a la carte as well as their regular brunch menu. we were shocked at how crowded the restaurant was with vegan a-listers when we arrived, from famous actors and authors to bloggers like moi. rad, right?! we settled in and ordered some entrees and sides, all of which were excellent and exceeded our expectations.

    fresh organic donut with organic fruit compote. $2

    fresh organic donut with organic fruit compote. $2

    we started off with some fresh organic donuts, which we’ve had before, and they were phenomenal. so crispy and sweet on the outside, yet unbelievably light and fluffy within—these set a new standard for animal-free sweets. i can honestly say that the donuts at madeleine bistro are the best i’ve ever had, even trumping the (in)famous ronald’s.

    vegan biscuits and gravy. $7

    vegan biscuits and gravy. $7

    next up, we had an some biscuits and gravy from the holiday specials menu.

    vegan biscuits and gravy from madeleine bistro

    i fucking adore biscuits and gravy, and i seriously have to get them whenever they’re available. the portion from madeleine bistro was absolutely amazing. the gravy was thick and meaty-tasting (but not in a gross way)…and while the biscuits were small, they were moist and packed with flavor.

    thanksgiving sandwich: herbed seitan, cranberry mayo, caramelized onions, gravy. $15

    thanksgiving sandwich: herbed seitan, cranberry mayo, caramelized onions, gravy. $15

    for our first main course, we ordered the thanksgiving sandwich from the holiday menu. this sandwich is one of the best things i have ever had the pleasure of eating…and i have eaten a lot of stuff! the turkey-style seitan was crispy and pleasantly oily, a perfect compliment to the fluffy vegan mayo and soft warm bread. and the cranberries added the perfect amount of sweetness without being overwhelming.

    vegan thanksgiving sandwich at madeleine bistro

    i know, i know….15 bucks seems like a lot to pay for a sandwich, and i am the first person to bitch when something is overpriced. but this thing was seriously worth it. not only was it massive (the pix don’t do it justice), but the flavor combos were just plain brilliant. my only complaint is that madeleine bistro doesn’t offer this sandwich all year!

    the Skillet, tofu scramble, seasonal vegetables, tempeh bacon, home fries. $15

    the Skillet, tofu scramble, seasonal vegetables, tempeh bacon, home fries. $15

    for our second entree we ordered the skillet, which is available year round on the madeleine brunch menu. omg this shit was INSANE. soft, fluffy, and slightly wet tofu all mixed up with fresh vegetables and salty tempeh. it was beautiful. take that, and add in the best home fry potatoes ever (i’m not lying!)…and you have a virtually perfect breakfast. the portion was hearty as well—we ended up with more food than we could eat!

    vegan thanksgiving with turkeys at madeleine bistro

    while the food at madeleine bistro was exquisite and we had no complaints, the most special part of our thanksgiving celebration was spending time with the wonderful turkeys from animal acres. on a day when so many animals are slaughtered with perverted notions of joy and thankfulness, it was great to hang out with these beautiful creatures after a completely satisfying vegan meal.

    vegan thanksgiving at madeleine bistro

    i’m thankful for an awesome and cruelty-free holiday, complete with beautiful birds and amazing food from madeleine bistro.

    madeleine bistro
    18621 ventura blvd
    tarzana, ca 91356
    (check the website for hours, it’s complicated)

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  • Following three years of eating out on LA’s vegan restaurant scene we thought it would be good to come up with a “top list” of the establishments we, and the commenters on this esteemed blog, thought were really good. Check out the end for honorable mentions, restaurants that didn’t quite make the list. Want to bump a mention off the list, or add your own? Please comment. Don’t be shy. We had to start somewhere.

    Madeleine Bistro

    Advice when visiting Madeline Bistro: Sit facing away from the window and forget that you walked past the exotic lingerie store a few doors down, after an excruciatingly long drive from pretty much wherever you live. If you can suspend the belief of where you are and how you got there for long enough, you’ll enjoy some of the most incredible vegan food on the West Coast, and probably in the world.

    porcini-crusted tofu benedict at madeleine bistro.

    porcini-crusted tofu benedict at madeleine bistro.

    Chef Dave Anderson has spared no expense or time in thinking through and preparing the most minute details of every menu item. From a doughnut that is so light and fluffy it practically levitates, to a veganized carbon-copy emulation of a Big Mag (which I’m told by omnivores tastes way, way better than the real thing), through magical soufflés and German Mac ‘n’ Cheese (complete with Bacon bits!) you are certain to delight in the experience of fine vegan dining with a menu as inventive as it is familiar. Every dish at Madeleine’s has that “HOW DO THEY DO THIS?” question mark hanging over it. Dave Anderson is a culinary genius, and we should all be glad he decided to practice his art on us vegans.

    Stuff I Eat

    Situated on a quiet street a block from busy Manchester Blvd. on the edge of Inglewood is an absolute gem of a vegan restaurant: Stuff I Eat. With an eclectic menu of options spanning the gamut from soul food through Mexican-inspired and down to earth, honest to goodness, American-style favorites, Stuff I Eat excels in every category. The staff are all so helpful, polite and caring that one feels grateful to be in ‘their’ restaurant. The portions are HUGE, and the quality of every food item, from the way it looks to the way it tastes cannot be overstated.

    part of the soul food platter at stuff i eat

    part of the soul food platter at stuff i eat

    Feeling hungry? The $18 “Organic Soul Food Platter” will fill you up, as well as one or two of your guests. The burritos are to die for (how many burritos have fresh, steamed broccoli topping them?). Any place that has a menu item called “Sumthin-Sumthin”, makes its own dressings from scratch every day and serves a $5 taco with so much filling that they throw in an extra tortilla so you can “make two out of one” clearly has an appreciation of food. If you have the same (or even if you don’t), Stuff I Eat will be some of the best Stuff you will EVER Eat.

    Vinh Loi Tofu

    Kevin Tran, the chef/owner/cashier of Vinh Loi Tofu is probably the King of Los Angeles vegan cuisine. Sitting on his throne behind the counter at Vinh Loi Tofu, he rules his mini-kingdom of obedient, smiling tofu-preparing workers who create some of the most stunning vegan food in town. In his modest Reseda restaurant (about the size of a donut shop!) he manages to squeeze in not only a tofu factory but also a kitchen that prepares no less than 126 vegan specialty menu items, along with several “new inventions” that Kevin has cooked up to try out on us unsuspecting, but very lucky, vegans.

    ham sub at vinh loi tofu

    ham sub at vinh loi tofu

    With so many menu items it’s really hard to choose favorites (and, to be fair, I try to mix up what I order, but in a lifetime one can only scratch the surface of Kevin’s creativity). Signature dishes we see people ordering time and time again include the Banh Mi subs (of which there are 13 varieties) ranging between $4.50 and and extortionate $6! Kevin’s tofu and fake meats blend perfectly with fresh vegetables in his soups, stir fries, teriyaki noodles and salads. If you’re feeling really adventurous, just ask him for his “special of the day”. You won’t be sorry.

    Pure Luck

    On our first visit to Pure Luck, we were intrigued to watch a tattooed dude (who we later discovered was Ben, the guy who dreamed up the establishment) wheeling a toilet through a busy restaurant and out of the door. He returned to climb, precariously, above the food area while he installed a WiFi access point suspended from the ceiling by green cables, that’s still there to this day. While this entertainment was going on, my friends and I got quietly drunk on craft beer, and full of potato pals, followed by several plates of fresh salads, rolls with exotic ingredients and burritos. Pure luck doesn’t quite have the atmosphere of a bar, but you can squint your eyes and fake it real easy, with at least 10 beers on tap and an endless supply of comfort food you can’t go wrong.

    angélica’s garbanzo salad sandwich with potato pals at pure luck

    angélica’s garbanzo salad sandwich with potato pals at pure luck

    Must-have dishes are the jackfruit-anything (especially the Todd’s BBQ Sandwich or Torta), Fresh Noodle Salad and the deep fried stuff (Potato Pals, Rosemary Fries, Sweet Potato Fries). The Tofu Pesto Sandwich is also an excellent choice, arriving on a crusty, fresh La Brea Bakery roll. Chow on some great bar food, drink some of LA’s finest beers and smile in the haze of how great it is to be vegan in this day and age. Thanks, Pure Luck, for all the good times.

    Oh, and the toilet was abandoned in the parking lot by the dumpster when we left.


    I recall hanging out as a teenager in the Tokyo district of Akihabara, where bright lights, video arcades and electronics stores are punctuated only by sushi bars and upscale dining. The shopping mall in Little Tokyo (just south of Downtown LA) contains all of the above plus an amazing find if you trudge to the top of the escalator: Shojin Restaurant. to call this place “fine dining” would be an understatement. Hand polished silverware resting on starched tablecloths await your vegan self. Nuvo-Japonaise decor and Frank Sinatra on the speakers round out this most eclectic of dining experiences. Your shy, yet overly-attentive and awkwardly chatty serving staff will do whatever it takes for you to have a great time, as plate upon plate of amazing food spirits itself out of the kitchen to your pristine table.

    vegan dragon roll at shojin

    vegan dragon roll at shojin

    Whether you go for the sushi (with seitan, tofu and other faux-fish accoutrements), the pan-fried seitan stir-fry or the incredibly tasty hand-made deserts you will know that such care has been put into preparing your food with prime, organic ingredients that you just can’t go wrong. Order as much stuff as you like — the portions are small, but the taste is big.

    Honorable mentions: A Taste Of Life, Native Foods, Veggie Grill, Casa De Tree, Cru, Flore, Cafe Flourish, Rahel’s, and Seed

    Check back tomorrow, for our list of the top five vegetarian restaurants that are vegan friendly.

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  • February 23rd, 2009mr meanerLA restaurants, madeleine bistro

    We’ve been contemplating a “Top 5 Vegan Restaurants in Southern California” post for a while, but with the notable fact that we’d never dined at Madeleine Bistro in Tarzana (frequently referred to as one of, if not the best vegan dining establishments on the West Coast). We couldn’t possibly start listing the wonderful restaurants we have here in SoCal, so we held off publishing this seminal piece.

    Well, after a trip to Madeleine’s last weekend for brunch we can (spoiler alert!) confirm what we’ve been told for the last couple of years: Madeleine’s is without a doubt, and by a far margin, the absolute best vegan dining in Southern California. It’ll be #1 on our list, if – that is – we ever get around to writing the “Top 5” post! And, we only sampled the brunch menu — from what we’ve heard, dinner is even more astounding.

    We’re talking menu composition, ingredients and food preparation waaaay beyond the norm here. After every first bite of each new dish we tried, we had instant eye contact followed by gasps and almost disbelief at what it was we were eating. For starters (although it was the dessert!) take a look at the chocolate soufflé with vanilla ice cream, this picture cannot begin to do it justice:

    chocolate souffle with vanilla ice créme. $12

    chocolate souffle with vanilla ice créme. $12

    As my aunt could testify, a soufflé is almost impossible to cook successfully, as it has to be crispy on the top, spongy on the bottom and a smooth gradation in between – and that’s using non-vegan ingredients like eggs, cream and even GELATIN to prop up this most delicate of sweets. At Madeleine, though, the soufflé was incredible – I’m talking a perfection of texture and taste in every bite, and served at just the right temperature with cold ice cream on the side that (even on its own) would have been a completely scrumptious dessert.

    Skipping back to the beginning of the meal, yet sticking (no pun intended) to sweet things, we enjoyed a donut that reminded me 100% of the French-style snack served all over Europe, yet with a lighter, purer texture that only non-dairy sweets can have. It was plump, round, slightly crispy on the outside yet perfectly fluffy on the inside and, just like the soufflé, served at exactly the right temperature, lightly dusted with crunchy sugar. It is, without a doubt the best donut I have ever eaten – vegan, vegetarian or omnivorous.

    fresh organic donut. $2

    fresh organic donut. $2

    So much for the beginning and end of our meal, but the in-between was even better!

    the bigger maque: two no beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles and onions. $11 add a side of potatoes. $3

    the bigger maque: two no beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles and onions. $11 add a side of potatoes. $3

    I ordered the “Bigger Maque” with a side of breakfast potatoes, and had to have it ‘splained to me that the Bigger Maque was a pun on “Big Mac”, the ubiquitous McDonald’s ‘dish’ which, by its very existence, proves beyond a doubt that billions and billions are so misguided. Looking at the cross section of the Bigger Maque which (thankfully!) comes cut in two you see the complexity of this meal – meatless patties, lettuce, ‘cheese’, onions, pickles (thankfully optional in this case!) so carefully and beautifully packed inside a bun cut into three horizontally.


    I polished off the Bigger Maque in record time, and punctuated every other bite by one of the breakfast potatoes – again, predictably, perfectly cooked and seasoned (crispy on the outside, soft on the inside yada yada, etc. etc. hopefully you’re noticing a theme here?).

    porcini-crusted tofu benedict: smoked portobella mushrooms, rosti potatoes, hollandaise sauce. $15

    porcini-crusted tofu benedict: smoked portobella mushrooms, rosti potatoes, hollandaise sauce. $15

    I only managed a bite or two of our other entree, the “Porcini-crusted Tofu Benedict” which seemed not to be of this world. Again, perfectly designed, prepared and served with tastes and textures that defy words. Just like the Bigger Maque, this baby was layer upon layer of scrumptious ingredients. On the ground floor was a perfect medley of grated, fried potatoes all scrunched up into something resembling a burger patty, right above that were thinly sliced and (presumably) sauteed porcini mushrooms, the whole thing being topped off with a soft and tasty slab of tofu all hidden under a splash of yellow, tangy hollandaise sauce and surrounded by asparagus spears.

    side of tempeh bacon. $3

    side of tempeh bacon. $3

    Oh, I almost forgot that we ordered a side of Tempeh Bacon which disappeared pretty quickly. Crunch, crunch, munch munch and there was an empty plate. My only criticism of this side is that there wasn’t more of it. Like, a thousand times more of it so I could take it home and eat it forever – morning, noon and night. All night.

    We also really loved the “Red Beet Tartare”, another creation of such taste and uniqueness that it’s difficult to describe in writing.

    red beet tartare: warm tofu cheese crouton, english cucumber, balsamic glace. $13

    red beet tartare: warm tofu cheese crouton, english cucumber, balsamic glace. $13

    Basically, you’re looking at a succulent patty of tofu cheese under a medley of finely diced and prepared beet, pickled to perfection all sitting on top of finely sliced cucumbers. After coming down off the entrees, our expectations were somewhat schizophrenic – on the one hand, sky high with anticipation, yet on the other wondering how they could possibly better what we’d just eaten. Well, the Red Beet Tartare delivered on every level imaginable. It kinda exists as a bridge between an entree and a desert, both in appearance and taste. Every bite starts with the cooler beet at the top, followed by the warm ‘cheese’ underneath, then a crunchy slice of cold cucumber to round off this diversity of textures and flavors. I define this dish as the ultimate synergy, defined as “the working together of two or more things to produce an effect greater than the sum of each”. This, my friends is an example of the real brilliance of culinary genius.

    Oh, and not being familiar with the Madeleine menu, we were not aware that this is one of the signature dishes of the restaurant – an accolade so rightfully deserved.

    Anyways, enough about the food. Ambience is important, and the high standards of the menu indicate that the interior of the restaurant has to be a notch or two above what you’d expect, and it is. Even allowing for the fact that all restaurants look better at night (those candles are strategically placed on every table for a reason!), Madeleine’s was relatively calm and peaceful on a Saturday late morning. People were bustling past outside, other customers were calling for reservations and the other clientele were clearly regulars – as will we after a few more more visits!

    Our server was courteous, attentive, and knowledgeable. All the food appeared magically at just the right time, and the dishes were bussed with a smile. I can usually pick fault in any service, but not this time for sure.

    The location is psychologically and physically far away from the Westside and all the potential well-heeled, guilty-rich-liberal types from Santa Monica that “dine vegan” as an occasional trend rather than a lifestyle commitment. However, it has an adjacent parking lot and is less than two minutes from the 101 freeway, so from West Hollywood it takes about the same amount of time to get there as would the tony establishments of Santa Monica (which can’t hold a candle to this place).

    Talking of Westside vegetarian/vegan resturants, Madeleine’s delivers striking good value for money, especially when you consider that my Bigger Maque was priced at $11, less than the (inferior, prepared by line cooks, crappy dine-in experience) M Cafe Big Macro and $6 less than Real Food Daily’s “RFD Burger with The Works” which is basically inedible. Yeah, $13 for the “Red Beet Tartare” might seem like a lot of money at first glance, but it’s an entree that you will never, ever forget.

    I only regret only one thing about Madeleine’s: that it’s been nearly three days since I ate there, and I have not been back for dinner yet – a travesty I fully intend to rectify as soon as possible!

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