Adventures in Veganism: Fatty's & Co.

Fatty's & Co.'s Salisbury quinoa steak
Fatty's & Co.'s Salisbury quinoa steak
Hope Lee

The blonde waitress at Fatty's & Co sports a septum piercing -- because that's what waitresses at vegan/vegetarian restaurants do. That said, this nose-ring in question might be the only thing the Eagle Rock eatery has in common with other vegan/vegetarian restaurants.

For starters, Fatty's and Co takes reservations, which is damn near unheard of in the hippie-fied, "it's cool, maaaaaaaaaaaan" vibe of other vegan joints.

Next, the restaurant is open Thursday through Sunday. Any other veggie-friendly eatery and you're thinking, "Great, they're probably three tabs deep in a Ventura County strawberry patch Monday through Wednesday and now chef Luvyer Bruther is in charge of my soup."

Fatty's & Co.'s moussaka
Fatty's & Co.'s moussaka
Hope Lee

Third, the diners look like the parents of vegans, but not vegans themselves. They're in their 30s, 40s and 50s. They wear slacks and cardigans and their glasses are a necessity and not a fashion statement.

Then there's the ambiance, which, simply put, is awesome. Take all the best parts of an upscale restaurant (candles or dim lighting, gypsy jazz at a decent level, exposed ceilings), ditch all the snootiness and you've got Fatty's and Co. It's the sort of place where guests at the adjacent table not only ask what you ordered, but go "ooh" and "aah" when your plates come out and later inquire not whether you liked your meal, but how much you liked your meal.

Finally, there's the extensive wine selection. Because nothing says "classy" like good vino.

However, the biggest difference between Fatty's and Co and the average vegetarian restaurant is also the most important -- the food.

There's an attention to detail in the dishes not often found in Los Angeles vegan restaurants. For example, the gluten-free walnut croquette on the appetizer menu would be the stand-out entree on many other restaurants' menus. The "pan fried pate of organic walnuts and butternut squash with cumin, fennel slaw and orange vinaigrette" is delicious. It'll bring you to tears. Your hamburger-loving grandfather will say it's the best thing he's ever had. And this too is just an appetizer.

Scroll to the entree portion of the menu and you'll see Fatty's serves a vegan moussaka. Then you'll pause and ask yourself, "Wait -- what? Vegan moussaka? That's a thing?" Yes, it is -- and you're a fool if you don't order it. The dish is "a mildly spicy grain of chickpeas, red lentils, mushrooms and onions layered with eggplant, garlic mashed potatoes and tomato sauce." And when it hits your table, you will marvel at its beauty and wonder.

Hyperbole is lame and should never be used when describing anything, especially food. But there's no way to overstate just how good the gluten-free Salisbury quinoa steak is. The menu describes this plate as "a savory complete protein, pan-seared, served with sweet potato and parsnip salad, succulent spinach and chef's porcini sauce supreme." This vegan reporter would call it the absolute best vegan dish he's had outside of Portland, Ore.

You won't have room for the organic peanut butter gelato, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't try it. It's two scoops, topped with a chocolate brandy sauce and nuts. And well worth the extra calories.

See also:

- Adventures in Veganism: Soho Thai Fusion Bar & Grill in Lomita

- Adventures in Veganism: Lenny & Larry's The Complete Cookie


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