Friday, August 9, 2013

Real Food Daily, Los Angeles

In the year 2000, while in town for PETA's 20th Anniversary Gala, I visited Real Food Daily for lunch. Now, 13 years later, Real Food Daily is still thriving and I was excited to see how it had evolved since then. This vegan restaurant was opened 20 years ago in June of 1993 by Ann Gentry who envisioned a vegan restaurant exclusively using foods grown with organic farming methods.  Now with three locations, it appears that the popularity of this restaurant has grown beyond Ann's wildest dreams.

I headed towards the Los Angeles location of Real Food Daily conveniently located in Beverly Hills. As I passed the numerous exotic car dealerships and plastic surgery boutiques, I found Real Food Daily nestled between a number of other businesses right on La Cienga Blvd.  After parking and passing by a place called, "Trashy Lingerie," and boy, was it trashy, I went inside the cafe. It was early enough on a Sunday evening that there were still some seats available in the tight dining space.

The dining area itself was very nice. It was casual with an upscale feel with its cylindrical red lights and decor of blond wood. The artwork stated the Chinese elements -- just the words in a contemporary sort of way.

The server seemed intent on ensuring I'd have a great experience so she started by bringing me a sample of their lentil soup. So, so good.

I ordered the kale and cuke lemonade, which had lemonade, kale, and cucumbers. I loved this too.

I was having a lot of trouble deciding on a dish so I just ordered an appetizer and continued perusing the menu. I had heard that the Not-Chos and Sea Cake was good, but apparently the Not-Chos can feed a large table so I opted for the Sea Cake instead. The Sea Cake is a butternut squash, yam, and sea vegetable croquette served in a rich pesto sauce with a sweet chili alioli. It was crispy on the outside and soft on the inside in a magical sort of way. I could have just eaten two of these and been satisfied. But, alas, I had to order something else.

After much hemming and hawing, the server recommended I try The Club sandwich either triple decker or in a wrap. I reluctantly ordered the triple decker knowing I wasn't that hungry because I wanted to try it the way they normally serve it. But even after ordering it, I guess I didn't realize how big it was. They had quartered the sandwich and placed it around the Caesar salad. The Caesar salad had a runny Caesar dressing on it with housemade croutons that were way too sweet. They almost tasted dessert-ish.  The club had a thick, meaty, housemade seitan on it with housemade tempeh bacon. I liked the seitan and bacon a lot, but the sourdough bread was boring and there was way too much of it. I ended up picking the seitan and tempeh out and eating it separate from the bread.

Overall, I was disappointed, but mostly in myself for ordering that club sandwich. I bet if I had ordered the wrap, it would have been much better. Everyone raves about this place so some of the other entrees and sandwiches are probably great. Mine, however, was not. But, my juice and appetizer were. And my server was awesome. So, overall, I enjoyed my visit and will just plan to order something different next time.

Real Food Daily
414 N. La Cienga Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90048
(310) 289-9911

Real Food Daily on Urbanspoon

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