Thursday, January 19, 2006

LaLa Land: M Cafe de Chaya and Joan's on Third

Little in my daily life resembles stereotypical Hollywood fantasies--neither J or I or any of our friends work in the industry, we live far from the beach, I usually take the -gasp- bus to work, I've never set foot in a celebrity-owned eating establishment. Every once in awhile, however, I'll have a moment where it hits me like a ton of bricks--Holy Sh*t, I live in Los Angeles. The first such moment came not long after we'd moved here and I'd started my job. I attended a memorial service for the late Minnesota Senator Paul Wellstone, and unwittingly sat down next to Warren Beatty and Annette Benning, both of whom made small talk with me until the event started, which was of course, emceed by Josh Whitford. It took quite an effort to wrap my mind around the fact this was an event I was attending for work.

The majority of my Holy Sh*t moments are less star studded (in fact, after 3 1/2 years here, J and I have a fairly pathetic star-sighting record. I, in an intellectually snobby way of course, blame it on not owning a TV)--most involve marveling at the weather, palm trees, the never-ending vastness, etc.

This is what macrobiotic looks like.

This is all a preface to the two very, very Los Angeles meals I ate on Thursday. For lunch, I picked up a salad from M Cafe de Chaya, the newish macrobiotic place on Melrose and La Brea. The review in the LA Times gave it high marks for flavor, and as I'm trying to eat healthy and all, I decided to skip another La Brea Bakery sandwich. I won't pretend that I've now learned anything about macrobiotism(?)--but I can make a few guesses based on the contents of my chopped salad. 1) No pork--instead, crumbled tempeh bacon 2) No dairy--the creamy peppercorn dressing was made with tofu, and damned if I could tell the difference 3) No generosity--if the paltry portions of chopped beets and carrots were a measure. Joking aside, overall it gets the Erin lunch spot thumbs up. Oh, even better than the chopped salad was the side of maple-glazed roasted veggies--brussel sprouts, eggplant and squash.

The other meal, not nearly so healthy, was dinner at Joan's on Third. After a late-ish night at work, I was driving aimlessly home, looking for a bite to eat, and happened upon Joan's. While the cramped, long and skinny space reminds me of a high-end New York deli, the clientle is pure LA, from the blonde TV producer hashing out her latest project with her daughter, to the middle-aged screenwriter, obviously a regular, excitedly relating to the cashier that the star from the OC wants to be in his flick, to the sighting of Dennis Franz (of NYPD Blue fame), looking scruffy and secretative in a Korn sweatshirt and knit cap. I took this all in while noshing a tarragon chicken sandwich on a baguette and a peanut-butter filled cupcake. The huge sandwich was peppery and mustard-y, with fresh greens and tomato filling it out. The cupcake wasn't as good as I hoped, the cake part was kinda dry and the frosting was a hard icing, not a fluffy buttercream.

Restaurants for a Day in LaLa Land

M Cafe De Chaya

7119 Melrose Avenue
Hollywood, CA 90036
Telephone: 323.525.0588

Joan's on Third
8350 W. 3rd St
Los Angeles, CA 90048
Telephone: 323.655.2285


Jessica said...

I'm totally sick of the cupcake craze but do confess to stopping at Joan's TWICE last week to pick some up. I actually prefer the harder frosting, especially the beautiful snowy white vanilla ones.

Out of the chocolates the "J" marshmallow creme is my favorite. Peanut butter is good for about a bite and then is too much since I'm not a big PB gal.

For a "dinner party" Friday (I use quotes b/c it featured take-out from Palms Thai and not a single homemade thing), I bought another box of Joan's and got two carrot cupcakes from Toast to compare. Joan's got devoured, while the Toast cakes were only nibbled at.

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Eleana said...

Hi! I stumbled on your blog and don't know if you still live in LA, but if you go back to Joan's you definitely need to try their coconut macaroons. My boyfriend and I have done taste tests from Joan's, Toast, Sweet Lady Jane, and other places ... Joan's is definitely something special!

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Here’s a refresher picture for those of you who are scratching your heads in earnestness, trying desperately to remember what our hideous kitchen looks like:

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karina said...

I have been hearing of M Cafe de Chaya for a couple years now, and finally made it out there for lunch last week.king tours I loved it. A part of the Chaya Venice/Brasserie group, this is their macrobiotic outpost. Macrobiotics is a diet consisting of whole, natural, seasonal foods. No refined sugar, dairy or meat. Seafood is the only animal protein in the diet. At the cafe, you may dine in, or take out. They have some covered outdoor seating, and a few tables inside, including a communal table. They have a large deli case filled with various salads, sushi (made with brown rice) and pastries (made with natural grain sweeteners). I ordered their

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