Thursday, October 31, 2013

A Fierce Meal At Follow Your Heart

On a hot summery afternoon, I ventured to Follow Your Heart in Canoga Park for a scrumptious lunch. The all-vegetarian restaurant was completely packed with a lone table waiting just for me. The menu was even bigger than it was my last visit, so I was excited that I had more options (although I was also a tad overwhelmed).

I started the meal off with a refreshing shake, which was a meal in itself. I opted for the Peanut Butter Shake made vegan ($6.50).

The shake was so decadent and had a rich peanut butter flavor. It was very thick and frothy and filling. It served as a dessert replacement in having the perfect amount of sweetness and a great accompaniment  with my entree by counteracting the saltiness of my meal.

For my entree, I had the Spanakopita ($14) made vegan.

This dish was amazing. The spanakopita was fantastic and had a flaky, crispy outer layer and a savory interior. The spinach and tofu feta concoction had a creamy texture and were generously coated in Mediterranean spices. It was so flavorful and melted in my mouth as I ate it.  On the downside, the rice was a little bland, however and could have used some seasoning and the salad was dry without any dressing. The onions were also very overpowering and I felt wasteful not being able to eat all of them, since my mouth was on fire. It is such a shame that such a delectable entree was accompanied with underwhelming sides.

Overall, I felt satisfied with the meal and found the tastes lingering on my tongue for quite awhile after. I would love to see Follow Your Heart improve the Spanakopita dish as it has such potential. I used a $20 voucher that I purchased for just $8 so the meal was very reasonably priced. Follow Your Heart had raised the prices of its dishes slightly since my last visit, but it is still well worth it. The food is delicious and the portions are quite large. I cannot wait to return again and wish they would add a second location on the West Side so I could visit more often!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

A Charismatic Meal At Crossroads Kitchen

During my dad's visit, we ventured to the luxurious, recently opened restaurant, Crossroads, to experience their magnificent food. The restaurant has had quite the buzz and has been lauded by many celebrities and food publications. Luckily, his visit coincided with Dine LA's bi-annual Restaurant Week, so we decided to take advantage of the special pre-fix menu.

For our first course, we had the Kale Salad and Pee Wee Potato Salad.

First we tried the Kale Salad.

The salad was fantastic. The kale was well massaged and had a light, citrusy vinaigrette. The currants added a lovely sweetness to contrast the tangy dressing, while the pine nuts were a nice touch. 

Next, we had the potato salad.

This salad was a little heavier than the kale salad, but was very hearty. The dressing was fabulous and very savory, with a slight bitterness. The potatoes and green beans were well cooked and easy to chew. I also enjoyed the crunchiness of the toasted pine nuts.

For our second course, we had the Spiced Chickpeas and the Wood Roasted Okra.

First, we had the Spiced Chickpeas.

These were fantastic. The chickpeas were soft and delectable and were coated with succulent roasted tomatoes and Mediterranean seasonings. The creamy garlic whip was heavenly and took the dish to a whole other level.

Next, we had the Wood Roasted Okra.

I've never been a fan of okra, due to its overwhelming bitterness. This okra was unlike any I have tasted before. Somehow the seasonings masked the okra's pungent taste and made it taste scrumptious. It had a savory flavor and had a wonderful crunchiness as if it had been deep-fried. The peppers added a lovely heat that lingered in my mouth, until the next course was brought out.

For our third course, we had the Ragu and Scallopini Piccata.

First we tried the Ragu.

This dish was very interesting. The eggplant stew was superb and I appreciated the contrasting sweet and bitter flavors of the tomatoes and kalamata olives. What made this dish so unique was the cottage cheese concoction on top, which added a wonderful nutty taste.

Next, we had the Scallopini Piccata.

I wasn't really sure what to make of this dish, but it was quite spectacular and perhaps one of the most memorable dishes of the night. The dish was purely concocted of vegetables and seemed to mimic meat almost perfectly. It was very tough and chewy and juicy. It was coated in a scrumptious gravy and had a slight tanginess. 

For our final course, we both had the Chocolate Ganache Tartlet. 

This was the perfect way to end the meal. The bite size pie was filled with a rich, decadent chocolate mousse and covered with perfectly crunchy popcorn glazed in a caramel coating. There was a slight saltiness to the dessert, which was a lovely contrast to the sugary flavors.

Overall, the meal was one of the best I've had in my life. The flavors were truly gourmet and the dishes were so inspired and unique. I appreciated that the chef used vegetables in such a creative way and limited the use of soy and gluten. The meal only cost $25 a person (not including tax and tip), which was a great deal considering how much food we were given and the quality. Ordering a la carte would have cost way more. I will definitely return to Crossroads again for an occasional splurge on scrumptious food.