Ok folks, here it is - the soy cream of the crop. This is, without a doubt, the best food I've ever eaten in L.A. In fact, I'm craving the mac and cheese right now, but I digress. Ever since reading about their awesome vegan brunch (beignets, donuts, waffles, french toast.....omg) I've wanted to go to Madeleine Bistro, but for one lame excuse or another, have never made it. This time I was determined! In fact, I was determined to make it to brunch. A change of plans made that impossible, but I soon found out dinner is also a culinary experience to relish, love, and flat out obsess over after the fact.
When we first arrived, I was unsure what to expect. The website definitely gives a fine dining vibe, while the location (store front on Ventura Blvd.), though not totally contrary, definitely takes it down a notch. Not to fear! The food coming out of the kitchen is refined, gourmet, and most importantly DELICIOUS. The menu is large, and we decided just to get a bunch of different things and try as much as we could. First up, soup and salad:
Here we have a sublimely smooth corn and lemongrass soup with an oyster mushroom wonton, and a wonderfully refreshing grilled artichoke salad in lemon-rosemary vinaigrette. People, the flavors partying on our tongues were unreal. There was definitely yum-noises coming from our table. With a start to a meal like this, we knew we were in for a treat. Next up, a bit more corn:
On the left is the 'study in corn' which includes a little shot of the soup we already had (happy to have more of that!) cornmeal fries, succotash, an a corn brulee. The latter was so sweet it felt like a mini-dessert and I was just blown away by how flavorful and diverse corn could be. Iron Chef should totally make corn a secret ingredient! Anyway, on the right we have yellow corn grits with haricorts verts. How they manage to make green beans and polenta taste so ethereal is beyond me. After a moment to let that linger, we moved on:
This chicken fried seitan with mashed potatoes and gravy was so savory, so comforting, and so lip-smackin', that I dare any KFC-devotee to try it. We could convert thousands away from Kentucky Fried Cruelty overnight! And, speaking of comfort food, this Kaesepaetzle (German Mac and Cheese) was out of this world. A larger portion would have been coma-inducing, and yet I found myself wanting more and more. Cashew-based cheese never tasted so good, especially when covering free form pasta and topped with smokey mushroom "bacon." Heaven. And yet, the best of the main course dishes was yet to come:
Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you the "Bigger Macque." It may look familiar, what with its two no-beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, onion, cashew cheese...... but I assure you this is so much better than the real deal. That being said, great pains have been made to recreate the hellish original in frightening detail. I swear the pickles are exactly the same, the onion dice precise to the millimeter, and the special sauce identical. I was in awe. I wanted to eat it over and over again. In fact, I ate so slowly, in order to savor every last morsel, that my last bite was cold. Still, so delicious. Why all vegans aren't flocking to Madeleine like Mecca just for this burger is beyond me. Yet, there was still more mind-blowing goodness to be had:
Up first, the light, creamy, and spot-on-sweet strawberry shortcake. Best I've ever had, yes, but generally I'm not one for fruity desserts. I like 'em chocolatey and rich, so when I saw there was a chocolate souffle (with vanilla ice cream no less!) on the menu, I knew it must be mine. How they get it to rise can only be decribed as culinary magic. I sat there analyzing it and trying to figure it out the whole time I was eating until a little voice inside my head said, "Just enjoy." Boy, did I. Decadent, yet light, this melt-in-your mouth dessert is one I will remember for a long time. The perfect end to an amazing meal.
Throughout all of this eating, I was becoming increasingly pained by my lack of future plans to visit L.A. Then came a glimmer of hope: The waiter informed me that they are hoping to open a second location in San Francisco in the next year! I get giddy just thinking about it. I'm pretty sure I could single-handedly keep the place in business myself, but I know it would do so well here even without me. If the restaurant gods are good, you'll find me at Madeleine Bistro SF in the near future. Until then, there are plenty of other good eats to be had in this fair city o' mine. Stay tuned....