R: Their new home on the corner of West Sunset and Logan is in an attractive, historic 1920's building with an Old World charm. Though the interior has been considerably spruced up, the floor of the restroom still wears tiny, white, old-style octagonal tiles, adding much appeal to the restaurant's ambience.
Z: I loved the building's entrance, placed at the exact angle of the street corner. Once inside, we were delighted to see full tables as the bistro buzzed with adrenaline on a Tuesday night. That evening we could choose items from both the dinner and lunch menus. So many tempting dishes featuring creative food pairings made it a challenge for us to make our selections. Our smiling server, Cameron, was sweet and extremely helpful with excellent menu suggestions.
R: We joined our friends Chuck, Gregg, and Jen and were seated at one of the attractive wooden tables with a fashionable, walnut stained, lightly distressed look. Dark wooden chairs matched the tables, creating dramatic contrast with the off-white walls and mottled grey ceramic floor tiles. Floor to ceiling windows on both corner walls provided cheerful daytime light, while multiple droplights wearing lampshades brought a pleasant warm glow to the night scene.
R: Gregg's Go Green Juice, prepared at the KindKreme bar and served in a shapely, ultra- ultra-tall glass, was a stunning pastel green combo of cucumber, kale, celery, avocado, and lemon with a dash of Himalayan sea salt and cayenne. He took a sip, smiled broadly, and passed the glass around so we could all enjoy a taste. It was a winner! Gregg, a big fan of kale, was inspired to experiment with that same mix of vegetables in his home blender.
Z: We placed our orders and were surprised at how quickly they were served. Gregg ordered the Vietnamese Seitan Salad; Jen chose the Jamaican Jerk Burger; the French Grain Bowl was Chuck's choice; Reuben went for the Jack Daniels Barbeque Jackfruit; and I couldn't resist the Grilled Eggplant Sandwich. All but the French Grain Bowl were served with a choice of sides: Mixed Green Salad, Dijon Potato Salad, Roasted Kale and Potato Chips, or Fresh Fruit Salad.
R: Each item was presented uniquely with innovative touches and boldly seasoned with exceptional flavors. I loved every bite of my Jack Daniels Barbecue Jackfruit sandwich served open face. Layered on one half of the bun were bits of deliciously marinated jackfruit and caramelized onions topped with a flavorful homemade spicy barbeque sauce. The other half spotlighted baby arugula tossed in a tasty garlic aioli. With the halves placed side by side, the sandwich was a dazzling red and green display nestled next to a generous side of roasted kale and golden potato chips to fill the entire plate.
Z: Gregg's Vietnamese Seitan Salad, served on a square white platter, was a brilliantly heaping mound of baby greens and cherry tomato halves bathed in Ginger Sesame Dressing and Tahini. One corner of the platter was abundantly heaped with thin strips of spicy marinated seitan, while an array of red bell peppers, carrots, crimini mushrooms, lemon mint, Thai basil, and sliced cucumbers formed a pinnacle of bright colors over the greens. Salad aficionado that he is, Gregg enjoyed his dinner so much, there wasn't even a leaf languishing on the plate.
R: A sandwich with pizzazz, Jen's Jamaican Jerk Burger made an attractive presentation on a thick, whole-wheat seeded bun. The well-seasoned filling was an awesome combination of black beans and walnuts, nicely spiced jerked portabella, leeks, and sliced mango with an aioli of saffron mango--truly unlikely ingredients that came together with fabulous flavor. Jen chose the roasted kale and golden potato chips for her side dish.
Z: Chuck's French Grain Bowl was the most unique dish at the table and was innovatively plated in a large, shallow white soup bowl. That's the dish I'll probably order on our return visit. A stunning banquet of grains, this combo consisted of Basmati rice, quinoa, and brown lentils sautéed with a plethora of chopped and diced vegetables including fennel, green beans, and parsnips. Perched in the center over the grains was a half-slice of olive-rosemary wheat bread topped with a generous, blob of artichoke puree. Although the dish was served with a small sauce bowl of orange-fennel sauce on the side, Chuck thoroughly enjoyed his tasty meal without the sauce.
R: The Grilled Eggplant Sandwich Zel ordered was a pungently flavored medley of thinly sliced, grilled eggplant, sliced artichoke hearts, and tender, marinated portabella slices layered with an irresistible olive tapenade and finished with a touch of horseradish. The chef chose to serve this assertively flavored filling between slices of artisanal olive rosemary wheat bread. Clearly, experienced hands in the kitchen composed each dish with creative flair.
Z: What surprised us were the reasonable prices for each of the entrees. Nothing was over $10 for hearty servings of knockdown delicious, well-prepared foods served with flair and warm smiles.
R: Chef Jeff Arnold, formerly at Flore Café, is a true, master of flavor who performs flamboyant alchemy in the kitchen. We were one happy group by the end of the meal, and judging from the restaurant's full house, others seemed to be in harmony with our impressions.
Z: Because we simply couldn't leave without a sweet treat from the KindKreme bar at the front of the restaurant, we ordered one thick slice of raw Chocolate and Coconut Cheesecake to share. The decadent dessert was topped with chopped walnuts and drizzled with chocolate sauce. The stunning cheesecake made a splashy presentation and quickly disappeared as we devoured it with fervor.
R: While we only scratched the surface of Sage's extensive menu and found each dish exceptional, we know there are many other delights awaiting us on a future visit. In addition to numerous choices on the menu, the chef also features daily specials, making it an enticing place vegans and even omnivores will enjoy often.
Z: Sage owners Robert Babish and Tony Zablah are savvy to the need for high-quality vegan dining at very affordable prices. Clearly Los Angeles vegan diners have discovered the Echo Park area has lots to offer. Entrees on the lunch menu range from $6.95 to $9.95, while the dinner menu entrees are priced between $8.95 and $10.95. Hors D'oeuvres on the dinner menu are $6.95, with one at $7.95. Sides are included with many items on the lunch menu but additional Side Dishes range $3.95 to $5.95.
Sage Organic Vegan Bistro and KindKreme
Reviewed May 2011