Z: Sprouting up all over Los Angeles, numerous raw food restaurants have been gaining new devotees curious to explore the world of gourmet raw. While we are not exclusively raw, we are akin to archeologists digging to uncover some hidden treasure.
R: Pleased that Taste of the Goddess Café, a raw food restaurant, had grown out of their tiny West Hollywood location and moved to larger quarters, we looked forward to tasting their new menu offerings.
Z: Located on busy Beverly Boulevard, the restaurant makes its home in the patio directly behind Prive Hair Salon and Ona Spa. We identified the side entrance by its cupola-style awning with the restaurant's name and tall bamboo trees flanking the doorway. We were in for a pleasant surprise.
R: Dominating the sizeable patio was a large, seated Buddha at the end of a raised rectangular pool. Our first impression: we were transported to a tranquil Zen garden in some distant land. The color black was dominant with a charcoal Buddha alongside the pool encased in sleek black cement. The dramatic ambience was instantly welcoming.
Z: Tastefully chosen were the tables and chairs of attractively interwoven black and natural bamboo. Outdoor heaters assure complete comfort. The enclosed patio has a special high-pitched, retractable, translucent roof covering that is partially open to offer pleasant, natural light and the comfort of outdoor dining. When the weather turns inclement, the movable roof closes to protect the dining area.
R: Our friend, Nita, who finds raw food a pleasant dining adventure, joined us for lunch. We placed our orders at the convenient kitchen window and chose a table at the far end of the patio next to the lacy, ornamental tree with large black river rocks at its base.
Z: The food was served on large, white, square platters, maintaining complete harmony with the Zen-style ambience. My choice was the Coconut Enchilada Wrap, Reuben ordered the Herb Stuffed Crepes, and Nita made the Living Lasagna her choice.
R: I find gourmet raw food challenging to describe--it's very complex with many components composing a single dish. So many colors and flavors from dollops of this sauce and that topping. However, I do find the unique creations adventurous and fully satisfying.
Z: I truly agree about the challenge of describing gourmet raw food preparations, but I'll take the challenge. My dish, the Coconut Enchilada Wrap, was stunningly picturesque with its golden-hued tomato coconut tortilla-style wrap enclosing generous portions of chopped tomatoes, zucchini, spinach, avocado, and corn kernels. The vegetables were moistened with a flavorful, rich and creamy macadamia nut cheese. The wrap was served elegantly garnished with salsa and pine nut chipotle spread. Nestled alongside was a giant salad of organic baby greens tossed with their housemade herb dressing. It was every bit as delectable as its description.
R: Touche! Flavorwise, the wonderful freshness of the vegetables was evident, while the macadamia nut cheese created a pleasant, delicate sweetness. In attempting to cut into the Herb Stuffed Crepes, I found myself engaged in a wrestling match with the thin, ultra-crisp, cracker-like sprouted kamut on the top and bottom layers. Inside were stacked slices of fresh tomatoes, spinach, and an earthy, minced multi-herb pesto sauce. Even with a knife and fork, the kamut crepe was unrelenting. I finally took the machismo approach, picked up the crispy crepe with my hands, and devoured it without a whimper.
Z: Nita's Living Lasagne was an Italian-to-the-max veggie lasagne with layers of zucchini, tomatoes, and spinach enriched with the saucy macadamia nut cheese. The lasagne was covered in a blanket of Goddess marinara sauce that cascaded over the edges, while the surface was dusted with a mass of dried Italian herbs. This dish, too, while tasty, was dominated by the similar earthy herb flavor of the Herb Stuffed Crepes.
R: Each of the entrees was served with a heaping portion of organic baby greens with herb dressing that provided a welcome balance to the lunch plate. While the dessert selections did not entice us, the smoothies held great appeal. We chose the Monkey Mambo and split it three ways. Silky smooth and lightly sweetened, the combination of almond butter, banana and Brazil nut milk zapped with a generous measure of cinnamon was the ideal finishing touch.
Z: Owner Nwenna Kai has created a selection of lighter fare with salads and appetizers, such as Goddess of the Sea Salad that features sea vegetables, sprouts, and avocado over organic greens. The Goddess of the Dance Salad spotlights her avocado mango dressing over a variety of chopped vegetables dotted with olives.
R: For larger appetites the entrees are an excellent choice and quite satisfying. Other entrée selections include Pesto Pizza, Spinach Ravioli, Spicy Salsa Garden Burger, and Cucumber Sandwich.
Z: With such an array of unique raw creations, the Taste of the Goddess dining experience is a visual treat and a taste titillation. The ample, wholesome servings made with fresh organic produce are a good value. I'm puzzled that so many people find it hard to eat five servings of fruits and vegetables a day. One meal at Taste of the Goddess easily fulfills the USDA recommendations.
R: And Patricia, our server, was eager to please.
Reviewed February 2007