The fourth in a series of Restaurant Reviews On My Trip to Orange County, and Los Angeles, CA. The previous posts were Satisfying Soul in OC, Is Gluten-Free Dairy Free Worth It, and Vegan Food Found in O.C.
Our final excursion into Southern California vegan cuisine was the Veggie Grill. We went to the one in Hollywood, on Sunset Blvd, nestled inside a large retail building that included movie theatres. Again, we had difficulty with parking, but with it being Sunday and movie theatres in Hollywood at mid-day, it made sense that parking would be an issue.
We found the restaurant. As I entered I encountered bright orange and green walls with poster frames of different kinds of vegetables. It was bright, and light. One of my main complaints about restaurants is that we turn the lights down low, provide candles, and then you, the guest, really can’t see what you are eating. Not so at the Veggie Grill, the big windows and bright colors lit everything up.
We went to the counter and placed our orders. Again with the order-at-the counter, pour- your-own-drink, and wait for the food to come with a number on the table. Since my partner was connecting with an old friend the wait wasn’t too bad. We had good conversation, and drinks.
As we were ordering, I peeked behind the cashier/order-taker into the kitchen. The Veggie Grill sports an open kitchen where you can watch the cooks make food. I saw a couple of very young, green cooks back there. Well, it was Sunday.
Then our food came. I had the Santa Fe Chickn with crispy fried chickin’, lettuce, tomato, red onion, avocado, and southwestern spiced vegan mayo. And because I love sweet potato fries, I got those, it was the Special that day. The partner had the Papa’s Portobello-Kale Style. It came with a grilled portobello mushroom, chopped tomato, basil & garlic, pomodoro sauce, caramelized onions, pesto, LTO, and chipolte ranch. And instead of a bun, she got it on Kale. Nice touch. We shared a bowl of the the Bean me up Chili, a combination of red & white beans, garnished with soy cream and chopped green and red onion.
Having recently lived in Santa Fe, anything by that name should be spicy and hot. What I got was a medicore flavored sandwich, and vegan mayo splattered with a little chili spice. The Chili was good, warm and comforting, like chili should be. I was impressed with the overall presentation of the food, but not the flavors. I’m used to big and bold (to quote the Food Network), not wimpy and whiny. The mushroom was flavored well, and I believe I appropriated the chipolte ranch for my sweet potato fries. Overall Papa’s was good, but still nothing to get excited over.
It’s possible that we were there on an off day. Or that the green cooks weren’t sure about how much flavor to add to the food. It was a flat end to a day that involved driving in circles in Downtown L.A. (see Babycakes), and having a great drive down Sunset Blvd on a sunny day.
Next time I’m in So. Cal, I will give the Veggie Grill another try. I know that there are Californians who revere this place. Still compared to Native Foods, and Freesoulcaffe, it felt like the Burger King of So. Cal Vegan Cuisine.