Friday, April 1, 2011

The Last Hurrah at Sante La Brea

When I heard the news that Sante La Brea was shutting down for good, I was devastated. I've only been to this restaurant a couple of times, but each time I've been, the food has been consistently delicious and the service has been impeccable. I had bought a $25 gift certificate from them a while ago, but never got around to using it.  It just so happened I wanted to meet up with a nonvegan friend of mine and needed a place where we could get buzzed, yet enjoy a relaxing meal that would suit both our diets. Sante La Brea is a great place to dine at with nonvegans, although it can get really pricy with the addition and substitution of faux meats and cheeses. Using a gift certificate definitely helps to bring the cost of the meal to a more reasonable price. Unfortunately, this is one of the few restaurants that has a minimum of a $50 purchase. This was not hard for us, as we wanted to drink cocktails with our meals and we were both hungry enough to order lots of food!

I must first say that the service tonight was horrible. From the moment we arrived, we were pretty much ignored and it took forever for the server to come over to take our order. If they didn't already add in an 18% gratuity, I definitely would have tipped less. I HATE being ignored at restaurants, especially when that very restaurant is practically empty.

When the waiter did finally take our order, we both ordered a cocktail drink. I decided to be adventurous and ordered the spiked green aid. My dining partner ordered a glass of wine. The spiked green aid tasted very odd to me and was very watery, while the description conveyed a blended drink. Oh well. It was still strong enough for me to get a slight buzz.

Next, the appetizers arrived, dripping with cheese. We both ordered from the pre-fix menu, which includes a choice of any appetizer, entree and dessert for $19. I chose the top notchos: Fiesta corn chips topped with black beans & black bean sauce, melted cheddar-jack cheese, fresh cilantro, scallions, and pico de gallo (subbed with cashew cheese for $1), while my dining partner chose the baked samosas: Grilled whole wheat chapatti stuffed with potatoes, red peppers, peas & cheddar-jack cheese, topped with our vegan curry cream sauce (subbed with cashew cheese for $1). 

The cheese on these nachos was amazing and so creamy and decadent. It resembled the real thing so closely, my nonvegan friend was shocked that it was vegan! The salsa and onions gave it a nice spice, but the beans made it a bit soggy. I would have loved to see some soyrizo or soy crumbles to add a meaty flavor, which would have taken it over the top. 

Next up were the veganized baked samosas. These were so delicious and I loved the Indian-Mexican fusion going on. It seemed the traditional samosa was given a healthy makeover in being loaded with veggies but was baked, rather than fried. The curry was so flavorful and had a great spice to it and the oozing cheese was just so scrumptious. The coleslaw on the plate didn't seem to fit, but was still very flavorful, especially with cashew cheese. 

For my entree, I ordered the spinach enchiladas. I have definitely ordered this dish before, yet this dish seemed so different from what I remember ordering in the past.

I wasn't a huge fan of the rice and beans. They just lacked flavor and tasted way too healthy to me. I did really enjoy the salad on top which was smothered in a smooth, creamy and sweet dressing. The enchiladas below were also very delicious and were filled with cashew cheese and layers of spinach. I remember this dish coming with more avacado which I would have loved to have, as it would have given it an even more soft, creamy texture. 

Lastly, for our desserts we ordered the orgasmic orange cake and the chocolate peanut butter cheezcake.  

The orange cake was very soft and moist and the frosting was sweet, but not overly so. I really enjoyed this cake a lot, despite being a little hesitant to try it since I did not know what to expect. I would definitely recommend getting this.

My favorite dessert at Sante La Brea is hands down the chocolate peanut butter cheezcake. I'm not sure how they do it, but this dessert somehow manages to be fairly healthy yet tastes so rich and decadent. I love that there are three different layers, which gives various textures and flavors all in one bite. The bottom two are very creamy while the top is a hard chocolate shell. My only complaint is that this seemed to have come straight from the freezer and many parts of it still needed to thaw. Since the restaurant was closing, we were forced to eat it quickly and take care of the check.

When the check came, I was glad to see all the food and drinks came to around $20 each with the discount. Not bad considering the amount of food we got and the quality of it. It was great to be able to enjoy a nice cocktail with a delicious meal in such a relaxing atmosphere. I am sad Sante La Brea is closing, but I urge you all to visit it one last time (or perhaps a first and last time) and take advantage of a really great vegan-friendly place before it is gone. My recommendation would be not to order the alcohol to keep the price down. 

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