Tal Ronnen is the chef who prepared vegan meals for Oprah Winfrey's 21-day vegan cleanse, catered Ellen DeGeneres and Portia de Rossi's wedding, and catered the first vegan dinner at the U.S. Senate. He has worked at Sublime, Madeline Bistro, and Candle 79 -- some of the top vegan restaurants in the country. He is also the author of The Conscious Cook, one of my most favorite cookbooks.
The restaurant has an unusual look to it with a gray painted facade donning two knives as the only indicator that you've arrived. Inside, it is very nice with a beautiful bar, tables, and booths set in low lighting. I was impressed immediately upon entering. Since I arrived well before a group of my friends, I decided to start my meal at the bar alone. I only had a couple of hours to kill before my departing airline flight so I wanted to make the most of my visit and not spend it waiting for my friends. I asked the bartender to make me something spicy and she gladly obliged. She made a cocktail with Bulleit rye, lime juice, muddled mint, and hellfire bitters. It was very good.
The dishes at Crossroads are tapas-style so you order several small plates rather than one entree. I started with the Artichoke Oysters. These were served on a bed of rock salt and were incredibly creative. The oyster was a crispy fried oyster mushroom set in an artichoke leaf served with yellow tomato bearnaise and kelp caviar. The sauce was light, but provided just the right complement to this dish. I was blown away from the get-go.
Next, I had the Tortelloni. These vegan tortellinis were stuffed with almond cheese served over spinach cream and topped with oven-dried tomatoes and parsley frisee. Oh my goodness were these good! They were rich and filling with a lovely taste.
Next, I had the Roasted Baby Fennel. This vegetable-based dish consisted of roasted cippolini onions and roasted baby fennel with toasted buckwheat, clementines and a clementine sauce. Unbelievable.
I was stuffed by the time my friends showed up, but they still insisted I try a few of their items. So I tried the Spicy Crab Cakemade of hearts of palm, granny smith apples, and heirloom beets and loved this too. The crispy onions brought a lot to this dish. The other dishes were good as well.
For dessert, I ordered the Chocolate Mousse, which was also very good with an amazing port dessert wine.
I must say I was incredibly impressed. This restaurant is up there with my favorite vegan restaurants in the country including Candle 79 and Pure Food & Wine. The dishes were innovative, the flavors expansive, and drinks fantastic. My meal ended up being about $80 when it was all said and done with drinks included, but it was well worth it. The service was excellent as well. Highly recommended for the Los Angeles area.
8284 Melrose Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90046