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Santa Monica Restaurant Erven Makes Vegetarian Dining Into an Artful Affair


Shredded cabbage pancake with braised eggplant and chili hoisinShredded cabbage pancake with braised eggplant and chili hoisinShredded cabbage pancake with braised eggplant and chili hoisinShredded cabbage pancake with braised eggplant and chili hoisinChef Nick Erven in the kitchenShredded cabbage pancake with braised eggplant and chili hoisinSpiced squash cake with burnt orange and pecansShredded cabbage pancake with braised eggplant and chili hoisinKorean “gnocchi” with chickpeasShredded cabbage pancake with braised eggplant and chili hoisinarugula and tomato-kimchi soupShredded cabbage pancake with braised eggplant and chili hoisinTakeout counter at ErvenShredded cabbage pancake with braised eggplant and chili hoisinGluten-free cereal barShredded cabbage pancake with braised eggplant and chili hoisinThe dining room at ErvenShredded cabbage pancake with braised eggplant and chili hoisinSoft tofu with Brussels sproutsShredded cabbage pancake with braised eggplant and chili hoisinlime cured onion and popcornShredded cabbage pancake with braised eggplant and chili hoisinChef Nick Erven at workShredded cabbage pancake with braised eggplant and chili hoisinExteriorShredded cabbage pancake with braised eggplant and chili hoisinBlack garlic–chickpea fritter with yuzu and Aleppo pepperShredded cabbage pancake with braised eggplant and chili hoisinMole-spiced cinnamon roll with peanutsShredded cabbage pancake with braised eggplant and chili hoisinMole-spiced cinnamon roll with peanutsShredded cabbage pancake with braised eggplant and chili hoisinbroccoli and spicy squash breadShredded cabbage pancake with braised eggplant and chili hoisinMarketplace salads: broccoli “chopped saladShredded cabbage pancake with braised eggplant and chili hoisinromanescoShredded cabbage pancake with braised eggplant and chili hoisin

Erven is one of those double-storefront eateries that feels all inviting and glowy from the outside, especially on a rainy winter night, and that feeling extends long after you’ve entered. The place is named for its chef, Nick Erven, who captured our attention a couple of years back at Saint Martha in Koreatown, where he worked in an open kitchen, and served modernist dishes such as seaweed “doritos” with sea urchin tataki and avocado mousse.


At Erven, you'd be wise to order the chickpea fritters, turned inky thanks to the addition of activated charcoal and black garlic. The severely square snacks possess a subtle roasty sweetness, which is offset by the zing of yuzu. Many of Erven’s best dishes rely on this kind of acidity, which seems to come from left field in the best possible way. Soft tofu comes in a bowl under a flurry of almost-charred Brussels sprout leaves — a nice textural juxtaposition — but the real thrill comes from the puckery one-two punch of pickled garlic ponzu and lime-cured onion. Read the full L.A. Weekly review here.