Sunday, June 25, 2017


Café Gratitude
1617 Westcliff Drive
Newport Beach, CA 92660
Tel: 949.386.8100
Cuisine: Vegan, Vegetarian
$$ ($15-$30)
Sat, 06/17/2017, 7:15pm reservation
    (4 Piglets)


Vegan? And delicious? Wait a minute...who am I? It's summer and it's that time of the year to eat healthier to get that bikini body that I so desperately want. What better way to check out one of the most popular vegan restaurants Café Gratitude here in Southern California.

Café Gratitude is a vegan restaurant that is 100% plant based offering food that is vamped up and sophisticated to the palate. The ingredients are organic and the food, well, for vegan, is pretty spectacular. The restaurant makes all the "creams" and sauces in-house and they're amazing considering that there is not even one drop of dairy present. It's definitely a change from a person who has always been a carnivore, but in a good way.

The interior is as sophisticated as the food. There is a large bar area with both indoor and outdoor seating for diners. Positive quotes are seen throughout the restaurant to make sure you love yourself with the food you eat.

The interior
INTUITIVE-POMME FRITES ($10.00): Heirloom Potato Fries, Smoked Salt, Gremolata, Spicy Cashew Aioli or Chipotle Ketchup. I actually did not like this at all. I was thinking it was going to be crispy, and instead, we got a soggy mess. The texture was way off. I wish we ordered something else for an appetizer. 

COOL-MINERALIZING MINT CHOCOLATE CHIP SHAKE ($10.00): Cashew Coconut Ice Cream, Mint, Cacao Nibs, Almond Milk, Chlorophyll. I hated this shake. It was not good at all. I love mint chocolate chip ice cream and thought it would taste like that, but it was nothing similar to it. I get it. It's supposed to be healthy and it tasted healthy. I've had vegan mint chocolate chip shakes at other places that were amazing and this fails to bring that guilty pleasure to life. Plus, for $10, it was quite expensive. 
MY FAVORITE DISH. STUNNING-FOREST BERRY MERINGATA ($10.00): Aquafaba Meringue, Strawberry Raspberry Reduction, Coconut Cashew Cream. To think that this dessert has zero dairy in it is pretty amazing. It was absolutely delicious and I even forgot that it was completely vegan. The cream was rich with the perfect consistency and the meringue was light, fluffy with a perfect amount of crunch. There was the perfect amount of sweetness balanced by the fruits to give it some tartness. Delicious! 

WARM HEARTED-GRILLED POLENTA ($16.00): Mushroom Ragu, Arugula, Cashew Ricotta, Brazil Nut Parmesan, Basil. The polenta was so crispy that I thought it was fried. I loved that it held to its own dish and the dish came well together with the pesto sauce and "cream" that was used as the topping. It was a good dish overall. 

ELATED-MOLE ABUELITA ENCHILADAS ($16.00): Black Beans, Grilled Portobello Mushroom, Braised Butternut Squash, Cashew Queso Fresco, Avocado, Coleslaw, Escabeche. This was my favorite entree of the two. The enchilada was creamy and smoky with a slight spiciness to it. I could do without the pickled vegetables but I appreciated the cole slaw to offer a freshness to the dish. It was so good that I was suprised there was not even an ounce of meat in the enchilada. You actually don't miss it when the flavors were this good. 
Overall, I really enjoyed my experience at Cafe Gratitude, even if it was a vegan restaurant. I appreciated the effort the restaurant puts in producing vegan ingredients and was definitely surprised at how prominent the flavors are. I didn't love everything, but I definitely was pleasantly taken back with some. I like how they put positive words for the menu and the decor made it seem like you were in a really cool and collected nice restaurant versus a cheap, casual restaurant.

Notable Dishes: Mole Abuelita Enchiladas and Forest Berry Meringata

Friday, June 9, 2017


Soiree Poulet
LA Times Food Bowl
235 N. Canon Drive
Beverly Hills, CA 90210
Tel: 310.271.9910
Cuisine: French, Fried Chicken
$$$$ ($50+)
Wed, 05/31/2017, 7pm-10pm (tickets-$75 each plus tax)
     (5 Piglets)

Every Monday, Bouchon in Beverly Hills presents a fried chicken dinner that is a replica of the fried chicken at Thomas Keller's other restaurant Ad Hoc in Napa Valley. The fried chicken is iconic. It is delectable. It is pretty much magnificent. So, the LA Times Food Bowl thought it would be a good idea to host a fried chicken event at Bouchon during the month of May...and Thomas Keller complied.

I have never tried the fried chicken at Ad Hoc nor have I tried it at Bouchon. The event was a great way for me to finally do so. Not only did the three Michelin star chef Thomas Keller decide to partake in this event, but he gathered his friends Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo (James Beard award winners) of Son of Gun to present their chicken sandwich as well as Farmshop's Jeff Cerciello to serve his gluten-free Jidori fried chicken. It was marvelous. All you can eat fried chicken, open bar, and desserts, what more could you ask for?

And the line and amount of people were ridiculous....but who cares, cause the food was delicious! Below are some pics from the event...
The kitchen of Bouchon where the magic happens...
Look at the desserts...

Everyone seems so happy
Hard at work...

The Farmshop's fried chicken! So moist and delicious! 
Seasoning all that fried chicken 

The fried chicken was so delicious. The crust was amazing and the rosemary added some contrast to the usual simple plain fried chicken 

The Farmshop's fried chicken up close...

Bouchon's fried chicken! So amazing!!!!! 

Bouchon provided a whole bucket of fried chicken with fries! I think it came with three pieces of deliciously golden and succulent fried chicken. The line was ridiculous to get these suckers, but it was well worth it. 

The desserts! 

The Bouchon bread with cured meat! 
Jon and Vinny's buns getting on the grill all buttered up! 

Son of a Gun's chicken sandwich. This fried chicken sandwich was da bomb! I've had it before and I thought it was good, but tonight, it was unbelievably delicious! I seriously thought it could be the best chicken sandy I've ever had. The coleslaw was tangy and fresh and it cut through the juicy fried goodness underneath it. There was even a spiciness to it and everything was well put together. 

Jon and Vinny's fried chicken sandwich after I took a bite! 

The pies and cakes were so good! 

All the alcohol I wanted...

More alcohol! I had the pinot noir and it was yummy! 
Look at how magnificent this macaron tower is! 

Caramel popcorn as a take home treat! 
Thanks Thomas Keller! 

Thanks Vinny! 
Overall, the Soiree Poulet event was pretty amazing. The amount of people that had attended was overwhelming, but it was worth the wait and cost. I wish they had a better understanding of how many people would attend and how to direct people into which line to get into for what food. It was a cluster initially and then by 9pm, it was a whole lot better. I went with my friends and their baby, so I think we were able to get some seats to eat our food; otherwise, we would've been SOL. The chefs were awesome and I truly loved every bite of my food. From the Son of Gun fried chicken sandwich to the fried chicken at both Bouchon and Farmshop, you really can't go wrong at either place. Luckily, they serve these bites at their restaurants, so be sure to check it out!