For this week's restaurant review, we checked out Crossroads in West Hollywood, the new "plant-based" restaurant (read: vegan) from chef Tal Ronnen. So how did this meat-loving critic like this meat-free restaurant? Find out by reading the full review, or get a taste below with our cheat-sheet version.
Philosophy: Despite the fact that Crossroads is a vegan restaurant, they actually make a concerted effort to downplay that part of their personality, emphasizing instead that this is an upscale, Mediterranean-influenced small plates restaurant. When I asked why this was the case, a spokesperson for the restaurant replied that "the team feels the food stands alone and the focus is on spotlighting the flavors of Mediterranean cuisine."
Vibe: A large part of that move away from the standard vegan restaurant construct is how buzzy and sparkly this place feels. From the review: "Dark and chic, lit by stylish, light-orb chandeliers, the room is packed with gorgeous, malnourished Hollywood types. Lipstick-red, clubby, semi-circular booths line the outside wall, while a long bar takes up the inner one."
Food: Much of the menu is devoted to vegetable-intense small plates: artichoke and farro salad with arugula and Kalamata olives; spiced chickpeas with oven-dried tomatoes and parsley-garlic whip, and other creative combinations of grains and veggies. There is a section of the menu that hews more fake-meat-centric, with "meaty lasagna" and other dishes made from soy-based protein. They're not bad, actually, not nearly as bad as other fake meat I've encountered. But the fresh veggie dishes absolutely compete with other small plates restaurants in town.
Drinks: There's an ambitious cocktail program, and an even more ambitious wine program, with esoteric bottles from around the world that pair wonderfully with food. Watch out for those cocktails if you're watching your wallet: they're $15 each and by far the easiest way to unthinkingly inflate your bill here.
Takeaway: 2 stars (good). From the review: " If the aim of Crossroads is to make vegan dining palatable to the rest of us, it's doing a pretty swell job. And if the aim is to give meat-free eaters something truly special to look forward to, Crossroads has hit it out of the park."
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