• January 22nd, 2010quarrygirlLA restaurants, news, other

    LA Farmer's Market Vegetables, Mole Negro Oaxaqueno, Vincotto

    it’s that time folks, dineLA restaurant week is almost here! from jan 24 thru 29 and jan 31 thru Feb 5, select eateries all over los angeles will be offering 3 course prix fixe menus at a discounted price.

    just like last time, we made the effort to call pretty much every restaurant taking part in dineLA, and we’ve compiled a list of the places that can accommodate vegans. some restaurants haven’t finalized their menus yet, so i will update this list as more info becomes available.

    list after the jump!

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  • October 19th, 2009quarrygirlbella cucina italiana, LA restaurants

    you’ve probably heard that dineLA restaurant week has been extended in los angeles through october 23rd…so you have 5 more days to eat prix fixe at gourmet restaurants for a fraction of the price! many of the participating establishments have vegan-friendly discount options available, so i highly suggest you take advantage.

    last week for lunch, i hit up bella cucina italiana for dineLA with a few co-workers, and we were all thoroughly impressed. the upscale italian eatery is located on hollywood blvd at las palmas, but the sleek design and moody lighting will make you forget that you are dining in tourist central. the food was all top notch, some of the best italian fare i’ve had in los angeles, and they were super eager to accommodate my vegan diet.

    bruschetta classica: toasted bread, fresh tomatoes, basil and extra virgin olive oil.

    bruschetta classica: toasted bread, fresh tomatoes, basil and extra virgin olive oil.

    as an appetizer, i went with the dineLA option of bruschetta classica (with no mozzarella), which was toasted bread topped with tomatoes, basil and olive oil. the slices of toast were small and slightly crispy, while the topping was extremely fresh and juicy. i realized while eating this that there really isn’t enough bruschetta in my life. something about the simplicity of the ingredients and the extreme flavors in this dish really get me going.


    although none of the dineLA entree items at bella cucina were vegan-friendly, the server immediately pointed out several options on the menu that i could veganize and still eat at the discounted price. the policy at bella was super flexible, unlike at susan feniger’s street where they would only modify existing dineLA items. i am a HUGE fan of egg plant…so when i saw that bella had an egg plant appetizer, i asked if i could i could get that as my entree. the waiter assured me that it would be no problem at all, and even said he would ask the kitchen to double the portion so i would get my money’s worth. SCORE.

    melanzane al forna: baked eggplant layered with basil and tomato sauce.

    melanzane al forna: baked eggplant layered with basil and tomato sauce.

    when the melanzane al forna arrived, it was absolutely massive. the dish looked like a huge breakfast entree, except with eggplant rather than pancakes and rich tomato sauce rather than maple syrup. the eggplant was deliciously crispy around the edges, yet warm and fluffy inside….while the sauce was perfectly oily and filled with italian flavor. one look at this entree, and i thought it was way to much to eat in one sitting. however, the thing was so damn good that i had no problem putting it all away!


    when our server brought the dessert menus to our table, he profusely apologized and told me there wasn’t anything that could be made vegan. without me even asking, he offered to give me an coffee instead. i know that a coffee isn’t as rad as a vegan dessert, but at least it’s something. and hey, it’s more than street offered (which is nothing, until we asked for a discount….and then they offered berries). i took bella up on their coffee offer, and it wound up being quite delicious indeed. to be honest, i was way too stuffed to eat dessert anyways.


    overall i had a great dining experience at bella cucina. the service was friendly, the atmosphere was chill, the food was delicious, and they were super helpful when it came to veganizing meals for dineLA. the best thing about restaurant week is that we have the chance to eat at so many different establishments that we wouldn’t normally try. bella cucina wasn’t even on my radar before dineLA, and now i can’t wait to return for some damn fine vegan italian food.


    bella cucina italiana
    1708 n. las palmas avenue
    hollywood, ca 90028

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  • October 13th, 2009quarrygirlLA restaurants, street

    as you may know, on this blog we’ve been compiling a list of restaurants that can accommodate vegans during dineLA restaurant week. recently, i decided to put this info to use and hit up susan feniger’s street with my former dineLA partner in crime, jennshaggy.


    when we arrived, the restaurant wasn’t very crowded and we leisurely sunk a few cocktails before placing our order. the pink drink above was mine…and it was so damn good, i can’t even remember its name. if you like fancy drinks though, street is your place. their cocktails and sangria are absolutely amazing, and they even have a drink made with absinthe on the menu!

    our waitress presented us with the special dineLA menus, and when we told her we were vegans, she rushed to the kitchen to speak with the chef. she returned quickly with a list of modifications we could make to each item in order to veganize it, and our restaurant week experience was underway!

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  • October 7th, 2009quarrygirlakasha, LA restaurants, news, xiv
    akasha: punjabi mung beans and rice. local greens, tandoori flatbread, tomato chutney.

    akasha: punjabi mung beans and rice. local greens, tandoori flatbread, tomato chutney.

    dineLA restaurant week! it’s all the craze! it’s when fancy-schmancy dining establishments in los angeles offer specially priced 3 course meals that normal people can afford…and it’s happening NOW (october 4-9 and 11-16)! although at first glance, the online menus of participating restaurants show almost no vegan options, don’t let that discourage you…there is plenty for us to eat!

    this post comes courtesy of a very awesome quarrygirl.com reader, emily west hollywood, who started calling up dineLA restaurants and sussing out their vegan options. we now have the following list of places that have been contacted, and whether or not they can cater to us herbivores. we will keep updating this list, so tell us in the comments section if you have any more info.

    here is what the restaurants had to say when asked if they would accommodate vegans for dineLA:

    akasha said “no problem,” but maybe call in advance so they can make a note about dessert. (i can personally vouch for this place…i went to their dineLA week in january for lunch and it was incredible!)
    bazaar by jose andres said “yes,” they will give vegans access to a tapas menu with many options. plus, they are an “all olive oil kitchen, no butter!”
    bella cucina italiana said “no problem and no need to call ahead.”
    bld said “yeah, they will make it happen. just call ahead and let us know you are vegan so we can get ready for you.”
    border grill sure thing, “come and tell your server when you arrive.”
    buddha’s belly santa monica said “yup, they can make things vegan.”
    checkers downtown said “sure, no problem.”
    cache restaurant and lounge the chef said that they were willing to veganize, but for the things that would be left out it might not be worth the money.
    chaya downtown said “NO, we won’t change anything.” (bitches)
    ciudad said “no problem at all, we would be happy to oblige, no need to call ahead.”
    craft said “sure! we can adjust our menu for vegans, just call ahead and we will make a note…”
    grace restaurant said, “sure. our menu can be modified for vegans. no problem.”
    fig seemed to think it would be fine, but call to make sure.
    ford’s filling station apologetically said “no, we usually can accommodate vegans but we actually don’t even have a veg dish on the dinela menu.”
    ivan kane’s cafe was they checked with the chef and said, “he would be happy to take care of vegans. there are several things he could make.”
    il fornaio said, “sure, things could be modified to be made vegan.”
    la botte said “no sorry, but there is vegan stuff on the regular menu.” (i doubt this however, because i ate at la botte once and they were COMPLETE DICKS when i tried to order a dish a without cheese. they said the chef wouldn’t allow it. i shan’t return, ever.)
    loteria grill hollywood
    said “no, we can cater to vegetarians but we will not modify the menu for vegans.”
    larchmont grill said “no, but there are vegan options on the regular menu.”
    le grande orange is a big NO. (pfffft…meanies)
    luna park said “no,” but they were very apologetic.
    the must wine bar said “yes of course we will adjust our menu, just tell your server as soon as you arrive.”
    rush street said they are in, and will replace dessert with a cocktail.
    susan feniger’s street said “yes! but please tell us a day in advance so we are ready.”
    taste said no.
    wolfgang puck bistro said no, and might i add, they were VERY CUNTY on the phone. “i don’t know if you’ve looked at the menu, but every item contains meat and/or dairy…so NO.”
    xiv said “yes we would be happy to allow a dineLA vegan menu…just call ahead.” (i highly recommend you take advantage of this offer…i have had the tasting menu at xiv and it was AMAZING!!)

    vegan cauliflower tempura at xiv

    vegan cauliflower tempura at xiv

    oooh, and just a side note about xiv: they will be offering their vegan menu after dineLA at 20% off through december 15th! you need to get over there and try it, because the food is absolutely extraordinary…and the discount makes it much more affordable.

    so there you have it, your vegan-friendly dineLA options! get out there and eat at some fancy restaurants over the next week, YOU DESERVE IT. let’s support these places for catering to us…PLUS, why should omnivores have all the fun when it comes to cool restaurant discounts?!?!

    to avoid hassles, be sure to call ahead for dineLA and make a reservation…and check out this post on LAist.com with tips for making the most of your experience. happy vegan eating!

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  • February 2nd, 2009quarrygirlakasha, LA restaurants

    if you are a los angeles foodie or lover of fine dining, you are probably familiar with dineLA restaurant week. it’s a big event that everyone talks about, where upper-tier joints offer their food at discount prices to showcase their best dishes and get you hooked. the proper explanation from dineLA’s website goes like this:

    dineLA Restaurant Week is a two-week dining event established to introduce diners to the vast array of restaurants in neighborhoods throughout LA County. Local foodies and visitors to LA will have the opportunity to enjoy a selection of specially priced three-course meals from some of LA’s best restaurants during this dining event.

    a 3 course prix fixe menu from a snazzy restaurant? sign me up. for most los angelers, dineLA is a bloody great deal, because it makes pricey (and meat-heavy) restos like stk and katsuya available to the masses. but what about us vegans? luckily, this year there is a 5 star dining, and very vegan friendly option: akasha in culver city.

    akasha is a really swish new-american-style restaurant/bar/bakery with tons of vegan options that aren’t even advertised as vegan on the menu. however, all the servers are quite knowledgeable about veganism and very happy to accommodate and explain what contains no animal products. i’d say 80% of the vegetarian dishes are vegan, and the other 20% can be easily modified. imagine my excitement when i saw that akasha was taking part in the dineLA restaurant week, and that for just $22 i could experience their exquisite vegan 3 course lunch.

    i headed over with one of my vegan pals and we had a slap up, shameless meal. while the dineLA akasha menu wasn’t vegan in its entirety, every course had at least one vegan option, all of which were superb. to start with, we each ordered the grilled artichoke.

    grilled artichoke with smoked paprika aioli. (usually $9)

    grilled artichoke with smoked paprika aioli. (usually $9)

    considering my 3 course meal was capped out at $22, i was so stoked to be ordering a $9 appetizer as my first course. not just that, but the quality and awesomeness of the dish were overwhelming. two huge steaming artichokes boasting the most soft and edible stems, along with fleshy and succulent dripping leaves…not to mention the mildly spicy aioli (yep, that was vegan as well) that added a hot kick and creamy texture to every bite. plus, the fine, fine artichokes were served on a bed of delicate wild arugula. this appetizer was all around impressive. 

    for the second course, we both ordered the only vegan-friendly main…the punjabi mung beans and rice with no raita.

    punjabi mung beans and rice: local greens, tandoori flatbread, tomato chutney. (usually $14)

    punjabi mung beans and rice: local greens, tandoori flatbread, tomato chutney. (usually $14)

    the vegetables were really special, shriveled yet tender carrots and soft cauliflower. the mung bean dish itself was fluffy and delicate, bursting with the most delicious curry flavors. the flatbread was covered in chunky onion slices, and tasted like it came fresh out the oven. everything rocked. i don’t know why anyone would want to add icky raita to this already perfect dish.


    for a dessert, we decided to sample 3 scoops of akasha’s vegan ice cream. they had a soy-based vanilla ice cream and a chocolate flavored gelato. i went for 2 scoops gelato and one scoop of soy.

    choice of 2 housemade ice creams. (usually $8)

    choice of 2 housemade ice creams. (usually $8)

    while all the ice cream was exceptional, the chocolate gelato really stood out. the soy vanilla was frigid and hard, almost refusing to budge and melt in my mouth. the chocolate on the other hand, was melty and perfect, cold yet still extremely creamy. 


    while that pretty much does it for akasha’s super affordable dineLA lunch deal, i also had a chance to visit the restaurant for a normal dinner. while it wasn’t the same incredible bargain as the lunch special, the food was just as good, and i wasn’t limited by a fixed menu. i hit up the akasha dinner scene with the same vegan friend, and this time we shared everything. with one appetizer, two mains, and one dessert between us, we left the restaurant with our seams bursting.

    cannelinni bean hummus: truffle sea salt, onion pizza bread, marinated olives. $8

    cannelinni bean hummus: truffle sea salt, onion pizza bread, marinated olives. $8

    we started off with the hummus plate and were totally blown away. like the flat bread, the pizza bread was covered in crispy little onions, and baked to absolute perfection. the hummus was thick and just oily enough, and the little plump olives were fresh as can be. yum yum yummmmm.

    we also shared the shitake, roasted squash and basil pizza.

    shiitake, roasted squash and basil: caramelized onion, eggplant, tomato and truffle sea salt. $12

    shiitake, roasted squash and basil: caramelized onion, eggplant, tomato and truffle sea salt. $12

    in true akasha form, this pizza doesn’t advertise itself as being vegan, although it is. the plate comes completely without any form of cheese (imitation or genuine), yet the pie is so tasty in its own right, the dairy will never be missed. fresh tomatoes, squash and eggplant piled atop a chalky and chewy crust make for the ultimate pizza without even the thought of cheese.

    we also split the red quinoa, also inherently vegan, with smoked tofu…my favorite dish i’ve tried at akasha so far.

    red quinoa: market vegetables & smoked tofu $12

    red quinoa: market vegetables & smoked tofu $12

    this stuff came with the same delicate and shriveled carrots as the mung bean lunch special, plus some very flavorful quinoa and juicy tofu. it was seasoned so well in fact, that when biting into the tofu, i was hit by several different flavors—salty, gingery, and spicy—one right after the other. i highly recommend trying this out.

    for dessert, we splurged on the salty chocolate tart, and it was incredible.

    salty chocolate tart: big tree farms sea salt, caramel, pecans, soy vanilla creme. $9

    salty chocolate tart: big tree farms sea salt, caramel, pecans, soy vanilla creme. $9

    the sweet and savory combo paired perfectly, and the caramel sauce drizzled over the top and soy creme were both amazing. even though there are so many vegan desserts to choose from at akasha, i don’t think any of them could possibly top this salty chocolatey goodness.

    so los angeles vegans, if you want a fancy vegan meal and aren’t against paying a little extra, hit up akasha. the restaurant truly is stunning—beautifully decorated with plenty of delicious and organic vegan options.

    and frugal vegans, if you want the experience but don’t feel like paying a ton of money, get to akasha by friday february 6th for lunch…you can enjoy their 3 course dineLA menu for only $22! they also have a prix fixe dinner menu for $34, but it isn’t quite as vegan-friendly.

    either way, i hope you end up trying out akasha. it’s a great place to take carnivores and a great place to celebrate a special occasion–fancy, tasty and something for everyone!

    9543 culver blvd.
    culver city, CA 90232
    310 845 1700

    $22 dineLA vegan lunch menu available until friday, february 6!

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