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Vegetarians in Paradise

 Vegetarian Restaurant Review

Editors' Note: On this page in our October 2011 issue we published a review of Seed Bistro in West Los Angeles. We are sorry to report this restaurant has closed its doors.

Seed Bistro R: At last Chef Eric Lechasseur and his wife Sanae Suzuki have fulfilled their dream to launch an upscale vegan macrobiotic restaurant with an elegant menu. Seed Bistro opened its doors in West Los Angeles at the end of August 2011 with a diverse menu of innovative dining specialties. The exceptional menu emphasizes fine dining in contrast with its informal sister Seed Kitchen in Venice. Diners at Seed Bistro can expect macrobiotic dishes with organic locally grown vegan ingredients featuring vegetables, whole grains, beans, and sea vegetables. Refined sugar and a microwave are absent in the kitchen. Eco-friendliness is evident in this restaurant that uses recycled materials and energy efficient light bulbs and batteries.

Eric Lechasseur/Sanae Suzuki Z: The moment we entered Seed Bistro we noted its distinctive taste in furnishings and lighting. While not the least pretentious or even ostentatious, the restaurant wears an inviting, warm, and comfortable ambience that reflects Sanae's creative influence beginning with the unique handles on the exterior door.

R: Our friends Eric and Diana shared our excitement about Seed's opening and accompanied us on our dining adventure. Following our server Whitney's suggestions, we began our meal with a cup of Cauliflower Soup with Asparagus Tips and a cup of Three Vegetable Miso Soup. The Cauliflower Soup, one of the daily specials, was velvety smooth, light, and creamy with the full flavor of perfectly cooked cauliflower.

Seed Bistro Z: Agreed. I could almost have made a meal of it, but was too curious to miss out on the rest of the dishes we ordered. The Miso Soup is a regular menu item but varies each day with the chef's choice of vegetables. On this night, it was a trio of celery, green onions, and daikon.

R: Next came two very unique sides--Burdock Kimkpira and Pickled Cabbage. These were tasty tidbits that define macrobiotic cooking at its best. The thin shreds of burdock were cooked in a delicate marinade of soy sauce, a touch of sweetening, and a pinch of salt. The crunchy cabbage hinted at a light marinade of vinegar and was garnished with fine shreds of shiso leaves. Both offered a great balance of tasty flavors that were subtle, yet assertive enough to shine through.

Seed Bistro Z: It was still light outside when we arrived, but as the afternoon settled into evening, the soft lighting inside became more pronounced. Attractive, droplights of tea-colored hand-blown glass were suspended from the high ceiling, while hidden lights glowed upward behind the banquettes flanking both side walls. A third lighting dimension, the candlelight on each table, created the romantic spark that makes this restaurant the consummate date night rendezvous. Despite the soft lighting, we had no difficulty reading the menu.

R: Dinner choices cater to all taste preferences including raw dishes and a special chef's tasting menu. I ordered Flageolet Bean Cassoulet; Zel chose Stuffed Shiitakes; Diana was tempted by the Squash Risotto; and Eric went for the Seitan Pepper Steak. We shared each of these entrees to enhance our taste adventure into the world of organic, vegan, and macrobiotic foods sourced from local farmers.

Seed Bistro Z: Chef Eric works magic in the kitchen, making each delicious dish vastly different from the others and complete with its own accompaniments. My Stuffed Shiitakes were presented on a square dish with upturned corners. Long spears of asparagus were arranged on the diagonal and flanked with four shiitakes filled with tasty millet stuffing. An umbrella of sprouts was heaped over the center. The finishing touch was a rope of tangy Romesco sauce encircling the food. This was a dish to serve to visiting royalty-- and we felt like royalty that evening.

R: While many carnivores turn up their noses at beans, vegans like me have a deep appreciation for their vast array of flavors and textures. The Flageolet Cassoulet featured tastefully flavored white beans served in a wide bowl. They were dotted with bits of carrot and celery and accompanied with a large, spicy Apple Sausage resting over the beans and topped with sprigs of fresh sage. Delicious homey dishes like this may have originated in the countryside in one of many charming European regions.

Seed Bistro Z: We loved the Seitan Pepper Steak with its tender chunks of seitan, killer gravy, and delicious, coarsely mashed potatoes, which were a refreshing change from potatoes so creamy that no texture remains. Large sprigs of plump, deep green watercress wrapped with a carrot strip provided the finishing garnish, which everyone left for me to devour. Cherry tomato halves added a bright accent. The tender seitan is housemade and captivating enough that even non-vegetarians would appreciate it.

R: Diana's Squash Risotto was one of the daily specials made with fried sage and a pungent drizzle of basil oil around the edges. Topped with small cubes of butternut squash, this creamy risotto, was indulgently rich with a magnificent blend of irresistible flavors. This dish was our universal favorite.

Seed Bistro Z: Although the portions were satisfying and we were comfortably sated, we couldn't leave without a sweet chocolaty finish. Chef Eric proved his chocolate wizardry with Chocolate Mousse Terrine with Pistachio Nougatine, a dessert as rich and indulgent as its name. The tall rectangle of mousse centered on a long, white, rectangular platter was flanked by two upright triangles of deliciously crunchy Pistachio Nougatine. Providing the finishing touch was a lavish pool of creamy, sweet, white sauce, artfully arranged raspberries, blackberries, a single leaf of mint, and a spray of ground pistachios. It was more dazzling than any Kodak moment I'd ever seen.

R: Chocolate lovers are likely to swoon over this dessert. It's one of those tantalizing, thick, firm chocolaty creations that make you yearn for more when the last bite is gone. The photo tells the winning chocolate tale.

Seed Bistro Z: Aside from the delicious foods tastefully and artfully presented, Seed Bistro turns its attention to using eco-friendly cleaning products and recycled paper menus. Even the attractive wood tables and benches are made of reclaimed wood, while the impressive real walnut community table wears an appealing distressed look. The soft, oversize napkins have a charm of their own and also come from recycled materials.

R: It's rare to see unadorned walls in a restaurant, but at Seed Bistro no décor was needed. The eyes are not bombarded with collectables or fussy wall bric-a-brac. What meets the eyes is an intriguing warm olive green wall that curves around and molds into the ceiling, also of the same shade. Just above the banquettes is a striking row of glass-covered design that resembles orange and straw colored bricks. The overall effect is tastefully understated elegance.

Z: Attractively displayed in the dining area are the wine racks that include a good selection of whites, rosé, and reds, along with sake, and a broad selection of beers. The restaurant is open for lunch and will eventually have a sushi chef preparing sushi to order. Chef Eric's Tasting Menu features a meal of four or six courses of freshly prepared dishes chosen by the chef.

R: You won't find burgers, sandwiches, and fries on this menu. Instead, you'll be indulged and treated to tastefully and artfully prepared foods that are macrobiotically balanced to provide good nourishment along with fabulous flavors. This is fine dining, so naturally, you would expect to spend a little more. Surprisingly, the prices are not exorbitant for this level of quality.

Seed Bistro
11917 Wilshire Blvd., West Los Angeles, CA 90025

Reviewed October 2011

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