R: Culver City became vegan richer with the September 2013 opening of Sage, a second location with much more seating that offers two spacious dining areas. Inside there is seating for 100 guests and tables for another 100 diners on the outside patio. Nooks and crannies inside and out offer creatively varied seating to please everyone's taste.
Z: The parking lot entrance brings diners into the gorgeous patio area outfitted with tables of varying heights and sizes, as well as banquettes along the outside wall. Two large olive trees from owner Molly Engelhart's father's organic farm in Northern California bring a charming touch of filtered shade to the patio.
R: That organic farm is also where the fruits and vegetables for both Sage restaurants and Café Gratitude are grown. Molly earns her talents as a restaurateur from a very special restaurant family. Her parents, Matthew and Terces Engelhart, are the creators of Café Gratitude that began in San Francisco and now has two local locations, one in Santa Monica and the other in Los Angeles.
Z: Let's talk great tasting food with a menu so full of choices we were challenged to make quick decisions. We came for dinner with our friends Chuck, Gregg, and Jen and chose to enjoy our meal on the patio. Gregg ordered Potato Broccoli Pierogis; Jen chose the Reuben Sandwich; and Chuck wanted French Lentil Soup with Artichoke Crostini. I went for the Pasta Pesto and Greens Bowl, while Reuben was tempted by the Eggplant Arrabiatta.
R: The menu is so extensive I can't imagine not finding at least five dishes impossible to resist. Two hors d'oeuvres got us off to a delicious start. The Fried Artichoke Hearts was everyone's first choice and came with Marinara and Ranch sauces for dipping. On the separate pizza menu listing 8 varieties and a build-your-own opportunity, we chose the BLTA Pizza on a gluten-free buckwheat crust. The breaded Fried Artichoke Hearts is killer delicious, especially dipped into my favorite Ranch dressing. And did we inhale that pizza? Seemed it disappeared in a hurry.
Z: Yep, it sure was gone in a flash! The pizza, created for this location only, sported a thin, buckwheat crust that crunches with a snap. The pizza was piled so high with tempeh bacon, vegan mozzarella, hemp seed pesto, chopped romaine, heirloom tomatoes, and avocado it was impossible to eat out of hand. Finished with house-made ranch dressing, it required the knife and fork treatment.
R: I wanted to mention the lush planters of veggies and flowers that greet visitors at the patio entrance, and handsome tables made of knotty pine that add visual appeal to the variety of attractive woods throughout the restaurant. What looks like a wooden floor is actually pressed cement cleverly crafted to look like natural wood planks. With plenty of heaters overhead, the patio is comfortable year-round. Sage even offers complimentary valet parking, a real plus during the busy dinner hour at the bustling shopping center.
Z: Brooke, our smiling server, arrived with beautifully plated Pierogis, delicious little ravioli-style dumplings attractively arranged on a bed of sautéed kale. Gregg said he would definitely recommend this dish that also came with a well-designed salad of baby lettuce, shredded carrots, accents of yellow grape tomatoes and a garnish of sunflower sprouts.
R: Jen's hearty Reuben Sandwich was voluptuously packed with tempeh, pink cabbage, and mustard all piled into a delicious rye bread. Nestled up to the sandwich halves were a generous heap of house-made potato chips.
Z: Chuck gave a thumbs up for the homey-style French Lentil Soup garnished with artichoke-topped crostini and happily accepted little tastes of everyone else's dishes.
R: I dug into the Eggplant Arrabiatta with great enthusiasm--must admit my unbridled passion for eggplant--especially the large grilled eggplant steaks perched on top of the spicy tomato-sauce-dressed pasta.
Z: My favorite dish of the evening, Pasta Pesto and Greens, received multiple OMGs from the tidbits I shared! It was hands-down obvious I'll definitely want to order this dinner dish again. The well-seasoned pasta is deliciously tossed with a dynamite combination of green veggies, broccoli, spinach, and quinoa and topped with steamed kale and a bright garnish of shredded carrots.
R: Though we dined well, we found ourselves unable to resist the Raspberry Chocolate Pie topped with raspberry sauce when Brooke, our personable server, mentioned the tempting dessert selection. Thank goodness a little wisdom prevailed--we ordered just two pieces of this ultra fudgey pie for the five of us to share.
Z: The dessert menu is actually quite extensive and features an impressive selection of ultra creamy KindKreme that can be enjoyed in a cup or as an ice cream sandwich, banana split, waffle sundae, or served with cakes and pies.
R: Dining at Sage Bistro is always a special experience. With two locations, they can now reach many more diners--not just vegans, but anyone who would like to enjoy wholesome meals made with fresh-from-the-farm organic ingredients.
Z: After dinner, we explored the unique dining area inside the restaurant. Eating indoors is a completely different experience for the diner. The architectural design of the space is a delight enhanced with innovative use of wood on the walls, ceilings, counters, tables, and floors. Quite striking was one wall that featured variegated shades of wood assembled with unique flair. Tables of varying heights offer many comfort choices, while warm Edison-style lighting gives the large room a cozy glow.
R: The restaurant offers great value, affordable prices, and delicious food prepared by talented Chef Elias Sosa. Even better is the delightful ambience of natural greenery and warm shades of wood from floor to ceiling that dominates the edgy design. The dinner menu lists all entrees at $13.95, while appetizers are $7.95 to $9.95. The regular menu offers hors d'oeuvres from $7.95 to $12.95, Bowls $10.95 to $13.95, Burgers & Wraps $10.95 to $13.95, Soups $6.95 to $9.95, Sandwiches $11.95, Salads $9.95 to $10.95, Tacos and Tostadas $10.95 to $11.95.
Reviewed November 2013