R. Imagine you are looking at an enticing menu in a Los Angeles vegan restaurant and you say to the server, "I think I'll have the Veggie Lover's Crepe--oh, wait! Make that the Italienne Crepe." Then you stop for a moment and realize that most traditional crepes are made with eggs and milk and rarely occur on vegan menus--until now!
Z. Vegan crepes made their delicious debut in the city of the angels with the arrival of LA Vegan Crepe in Los Angeles. Opened in December 2012, the warm, friendly, and comfy café makes its home on South Robertson Blvd. just north of Olympic Blvd.
R: Ready for a late lunch on a Sunday afternoon, we met our friend Chuck at the café and marveled at the appealing menu. We sat at a table close to the front of the restaurant and immediately began to chat with the lively vegans at the next table. "Oh, you haven't been here before? Then, you have to try the Parisienne, and don't leave without taking a killer chocolate croissant home," they suggested. We instantly fell in love with the place and felt right at home. That's the sort of congenial ambience owners Philippe and Sandrine Vanin have created.
R: Since it was almost two in the afternoon, we were ready for something hearty and focused on the appetizing choices of Savory Buckwheat Crepes. Zel took our neighbor's suggestion and ordered the Parisienne. Chuck chose the Savoyarde and a Mocha Latte, while the Veggie Delight Panini caught my attention.
Z: The café has an informal, uplifting vibe with laptop techies sipping coffee, couches next to the window, and an ultra-high ceiling contributing a feeling of openness. Philippe's choice to paint the walls a warm, light hew of green contributes to the cheery ambience, while the giant windows invite the sun to splash the room with plenty of brightness. In keeping with the light tones are grey-streaked white marble tabletops and a light-grained wooden floor.
R: Plenty of tables, bar stools at the long counter, and outdoor tables offer ample seating for the busy weekend brunch traffic as well as for weekday diners. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner seven days a week make this a cool, convenient and homey place for the locals.
Z: Chuck's Savoyarde crepe arrived with an appetizing puffy, light golden glow and was accompanied with a salad of mixed greens, button mushrooms, broccoli, and tomatoes with a fluff of fresh sprouts on top. Dressing was served on the side. Wrapped inside the light and fluffy crepe was a blend of Daiya pepper Jack cheese, mozzarella, and cheddar combined with red skin potatoes and apple smoked sausage all tossed with white wine sauce.
R: My Veggie Delight Panini was indeed a veggie delight. Packed with tomatoes, avocados, cucumbers, carrots, and fresh basil leaves, it was layered on multigrain sourdough and slathered with a delicious pesto sauce. The bread had a crisply toasted coating and sported those picture-perfect rows of grill marks that make sandwiches look so appealing. Each of our dishes came with a salad of crisp veggie greens and sprouts.
Z: I cut my rectangular Parisienne crepe into thirds to share and stacked one portion on top of another, hoping it would make a mouth-watering photo. Inside my golden crepe were visible bite-size chunks of veggie chicken, mushrooms, onions, Roma tomatoes, and cheddar mixed with béchamel sauce. The chicken, made by Beyond Meat, is so close to the real thing in taste and texture it actually fooled food writer Mark Bittman in a blind taste-test.
R: Chuck began to look at the choices of dessert crepes--and though we all felt we shouldn't--we did. Our Number #1 choice was the Banana Chocolate Crepe. This one was folded into a triangular shape and served with a scoop of luscious Almond Dream ice cream.
Z: Our feather-light dessert crepe enclosed a layer of sliced fresh bananas and a bold chocolate sauce made from raw cacao sweetened with only a hint of coconut palm sugar. And while the cacao had a bracing bite, the deliciously sweet almond ice cream provided the ideal sweet balance.
R: We asked Philippe what made the crepes so feather light and airy, when traditional crepes often have a much heavier quality. He admitted Sandrine was the chef with the magic touch. She prepares the batter with buckwheat flour and almond milk, a formula that results in a fluffy, puffy texture colored with a rich sunset glow.
Z: For the early birds, there were familiar breakfast items like oatmeal, breakfast burrito, and tofu scramble at $7.25 to $10.25. Unique on the breakfast menu are Tofu and Cheddar Croissant or the Breakfast Crepe filled with veggies, tofu, and cheese along with a salad. There are also live and gluten-free items for breakfast from $5.95 to $8.95. The menu also features salads, panini, sandwiches, soup of the day, savory crepes, and sweet crepes for dessert at $5.25 to $13.95.
R: On the lighter side are fresh juices, creative smoothies, and an excellent selection of hot and cold coffees, teas, and other beverages. Check out the delicious appetizers and Pesto Noodles for dinner dining.
Z: There's no doubt LA Vegan Crepe is the sweetest place for a terrific breakfast or brunch, as well as lunch and dinner. While breakfast is served only until 11:00 a.m., the savory and sweet crepes, paninis, and salads are very happy to come to your table any time of day. Save us a table Philippe--we'll be back soon!
LA Vegan Crepe
Reviewed April 2013