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Vegetarians in Paradise

 Vegetarian Restaurant Review

Mohawk Bend R: Inspired by the success of Tony's Darts Away, his bustling pub in Burbank, owner Tony Yanow envisioned an abandoned, spacious, 100-year old vaudeville theater in Echo Park as the home of a larger and grander pub that would offer mostly vegan foods, a full bar, and a whopping 72 varieties of craft beers. The transformation is as breathtaking as it is enjoyable. Mohawk Bend, named for Mohawk Street that borders the pub, opened in early August 2011 and within three months it was the "in place."

Z: One can only say WOW! Every inch of this pub offers dining and sipping diversity along with unique spaces that morph into a host of comfy niches.

R: Old movie and vaudeville theaters were designed with a large, covered, open foyer at the entrance. This partially enclosed space that opens to foot traffic along busy Sunset Boulevard became the patio lounge, complete with a fireplace-pit and pinewood couches padded with comfy cushions. Tall tables with stools and banquettes offer plenty of seating. You couldn't ask for a warmer, happier space for sipping and schmoozing with friends.

Z: Upon entering the gigantic room, we knew instantly we were among the hip crowd who loves this happening social scene where people gather to relax, dine, and enjoy just being where the fun is. Except for the cathedral ceiling, we might never have known this was once a theater. Be prepared, though; this room is designed to be a noisy spot.

R: To the left is the large, open kitchen where vegan and non-vegan foods are prepared in separate areas to avoid cross-contamination. To watch the kitchen action, choose a booth where you can view chefs assembling a host of imaginative dishes.

Z: The center of the room is packed with plenty of attractive pinewood booths and a colossal community table. Several banquettes, made of natural, unstained pine with padded backs and seats dress up the right side of the room while the humongous bar fills the long space past the banquettes. There are plenty of bar stools for those who fancy viewing the wild workings of the frenzied bar.

Mohawk Bend R: The awesomeness of Mohawk Bend doesn't end at the bar. We continued meandering toward the rear and discovered the Ramona Room, once the name of the vaudeville theater. This exceptionally large room feels like a completely separate restaurant enclosed by the original used brick walls that stretch all the way to the top of the vaulted skylights. Lots of greenery provides this spacious room with a lovely outdoor dining ambience that can easily accommodate the busy weekend crowds that flock to pub.

Z: We were escorted to one of the banquettes where our server, Maya, made some excellent beverage choices after asking what kind of beer we like. She even brought small samples for us to taste. For me, it was Old Rasputin Nitro, a Russian Imperial Stout served in a goblet. Reuben took Maya's suggestion and sipped a pint of Old #38 Nitro, an Irish dry stout. Both craft beers are brewed at North Coast Brewing Company in Fort Bragg, California. Each arrived with a picture-perfect creamy head. Our friends Diana and Lionel ordered soft drinks, though they almost chose the house-made Ginger Beer.

Mohawk Bend R: Committed to low waste and sustainable practices, the restaurant prints the fun-to-browse menus on recycled paper. Each of the dishes is innovatively created to complement the pub's extensive beverage menu. This menu stands apart because all dishes are vegan unless marked NV for non-vegan. We started with three items from the Smaller section and chose Three Colored Cauliflower, Fries, and Flatbreads with Spiced Roast Eggplant.

Z: Served with panache, the starters arrived quickly and looked very inviting. The Three Colored Cauliflower was served chilled, well seasoned, and lightly marinated and was nestled in a small cast iron pot presented on a cork trivet. The cauliflower came with a tiny white bowl of zesty tomato pickle in an oil-based marinade. The combo was a truly tasty duo.

R: The Fries, seasoned with togarashi, a Japanese seasoning blend, were served in a paper cone tucked into a small metal bucket placed on a small metal plate. The Spicy Roast Eggplant, accompanied with wedges of pita, was flavorful, well-chilled, and served in a small bowl resting on a wooden plank. Wisely, the starters are small, leaving plenty of room to explore salads, soup, or bigger plates.

Mohawk Bend Z: For her dinner, Diana ordered the Lentil Soup made with a pleasantly textured grain called farro, kale, delicata squash, and pesto and found it a delight. Served in an oversized cup with a handle, it was accompanied by a slice of garlic bread. Both Reuben and Lionel chose the Sausage & Mash, house-made plump apple sage sausages with shredded marinated cabbage, mashed potatoes, gravy made with Mad River Stout, and two mustards, whole grain and Dijon. It was a perfect pub dish in the ideal setting!

R: In the mood for salad, Zel was drawn to the Flash Gordon Salad. The platter contained each of the components artfully arranged to present the greens with enticing eye appeal. Three small halves of grilled lettuce formed the base of the salad flanked with clusters of avocado and pickled onions. Large grapefruit sections and a generous fluff of creamy dill dressing lay over the lettuce tastefully garnished with a sprinkle of pine nuts. The salad was large enough to share, and I loved the ample bites Zel invited me to taste.

Mohawk Bend Z: Because I assumed the salad would be tiny, I also ordered V is for Vegan, the fattest burger I've ever encountered. I loved the dramatic presentation with the black-handled, serrated knife plunged into the center of the burger, flanked with two unique toothpicks curled at the top. Made of quinoa and lentils, the patty was served on a fat wheat bun and stacked with avocado, ume pickled onions, aioli, romaine, and basil. The patty is soft, tasty, and at least an inch thick. I found it way too big to eat like an ordinary burger and had to peck at it in small bites. But I didn't mind--it was a grand feast complete with cole slaw and a half pickle.

R: The well-crafted foods at Mohawk Bend invites sharing, and we did enjoy some fun communal tasting. This pub also has a unique system of team servers. Though Maya took our food orders, several other servers, who were just as knowledgeable about ingredients and flavors, brought the dishes to the table.

Mohawk Bend
Z: The dessert menu was small, but didn't stop us from indulging in two knock-your-socks-off delicious treats. Curious, we ordered the Cast Iron Cookie from the stone oven and Crostata, also a hot dessert we shared. What tantalizing treats they were! The Cast Iron Cookie is a must have. It's not the usual cookie to pick off a plate and pop into the mouth. Rather it's baked in an individual cast iron pot until golden and then eaten with a spoon. The first bite revealed the delicious surprise inside--divinely melted chocolate chips that wafted warm chocolaty aromas.

Mohawk Bend R: We were also enamored with the Crostata, a seasonal treat made of richly flavored, sweet custardy dough topped with ultra creamy pumpkin butter and nutmeg whipped cream. This is a vegan delicacy to be savored in small bites. We tip our hats to executive chefs Randal St. Clair and Sera Pelle for creating a delightful selection of perfect pub offerings.

Z: Other menu items include more starters, a variety of salads, and some unique pizza combinations from the woodfired oven. Prices are reasonable. Starters range from $4 to $9. Salads and Soup $6 to $10. Bigger plates average $14. Pizza $12 to $14. Desserts $6 to $9. Craft beers $4.50 to $6. This is a great place to come with a date, have some fun beverages, enjoy a meal of well-prepared foods, including dessert, and still feel you've gotten good value at affordable prices.

R: And if you're not hungry, invent a reason to stop in and try one of the craft beers or other beverages, alcoholic or non-alcoholic. It's a place to visit at least once. And who knows, you might get hooked and come back often!

Mohawk Bend
2141 Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90026
Phone: 213-483-[2337
Hours: Monday through Thursday 5:00 p.m. to 11:30 p.m.
Friday 5:00 p.m. to 1:30 a.m.
Saturday 12 p.m. to 1:30 a.m.
Sunday 12 p.m. to 11:30 p.m.
Website: http://www.Mohawk.la

Reviewed December 2011

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