Kreation Kafe – Santa Monica

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Sorry about all the irregular updates. I’m in the process moving to Salt Lake City(!!) right now, but should be back on schedule within the next couple weeks.

But for now, here is the first restaurant installment of my Los Angeles trip.

Our first trip within the city limits was the apparently well known Montana Avenue in Santa Monica. We quickly found parking at one end of the street and started walking up and down the length of it. There were so many cute shops – decieving antique shops that appeared to be thrift stores but had a price range of a collector’s boutique, shops full of clothing that we didn’t dare enter for fear of some unknown entry fee, and so many cafés, juice bars, and restaurants!

It was around lunch time so we had a hard time deciding which of our many options looked most appealing (and was vegetarian friendly). While we wandered and pondered my future roommate noticed that no one seemed to be happy. Or smile. Or even acknowledge other human beings’ presence. She started smiling pointedly at the obvious locals to get a reaction out of them. After realizing that it simply wasn’t working she started to count how many people in LA smiled. The number can be counted on one hand, and we are pretty sure they were visitors like us.

But back to the food. Which gave us HUGE smiles of delight and satiation.

The place we ultimately decided on was the super trendy and very obviously organic–very-vegetarian-if-not-vegan restaurant – Kreation Kafe. I call it obviously organic and etc. because the outside featured a little portal covered in succulents and grasses, the floor was covered with astroturf (though, admittedly that’s not very sustainable or organic…) and the walls were mainly windows that let in all the natural light. What little that was solid wall was covered in yet more small succulents.

Luckily, it wasn’t too busy when we got there and didn’t have to wait at all, but the restaurant was completely full otherwise.

The menu was simple and offered a nice variety of breakfast dishes, sandwiches, kebabs, salads, and juices. All of the juices you never knew existed (and still aren’t really sure what their purpose is) and more. The last two pages was solid small type charts of various juices that the restaurant served – to order. Suffice it to say I ignored that page and stuck with water.

The meal I chose was a chicken and veggie sandwich with a side salad. The chicken was so tender, the veggies nice and fire roasted. It was a delicious gourmet and locally grown meal. The salad was the freshest I’ve had in a while. I don’t normally rave over the lettuces and leaves unless I have a craving, but this. was. good. It might have had the smallest drizzle of some light vinaigrette, but for the most part it was pure leafy joy. I was full and so happy from this meal.

Some of the other options were smoked salmon and tapas plate, scottish salmon and eggs, and veggies kabobs. Each and every one of us were delighted with the food. Enjoying it so much that we barely spoke at all while nomming. You know that’s a good meal.

And at the end of the meal, the waiter offered us complimentary juices in little test tube bottles. I forgot what flavours we tried, but one was minty and one was beety. Not bad, but I still don’t understand the juice craze.

It was a cute place and had quality food. I definitely would not mind revisiting Kreation Kafe next time I’m in the area.

Carlota’s on Lambert

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Carlota’s is a local Mexican place right in the heart of Oro Valley. The location has a long history of Mexican food. Ever since I can remember we would go to the Mexican restuarant -El Burrito Patio- and I would order a hot dog wrapped in tortilla. Very latino, I know. Since then, my tastes have expanded and the restaurant has changed.

The decor is pretty much the same – Mexican turquoise, coral, yellow – and there are pictures of old vaqueros on the walls. It’s cozy and fun. The menu offers all the yummy type meats in burros, enchiladas, tacos, and combo plates! And, like any good Mexican restaurant, complimentary chips and salsa (at least the first bowl and refill.)

I ordered the carne asada tacos lunch special. The meat was tender and flavorful, the toppings – cabbage and cilantro and onion and tomatoes – were fresh and crunchy. Add some of the house salsa and you got perfect tacos. The rice was moist and not bland. And the beans… were your ordinary run of the mill refried beans. Overall a great lunch for about $8.

Cupz n Crepes

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Cupz n Crepes is an adorable little local restaurant in ‘Tukee just a few blocks West from the I10 on Ray. I went to  meet a friend here for breakfast while visiting The Valley and am I in love! It is the best crèpe place I’ve been to in the states.

It is a seat-yourself diner, and the wait staff were pretty friendly when we went. Our order even got lost but they were quick to fix that once we brought their attention to the wait. The decor is classy cutesy with mirrors and shelves full of porcelain vases and flowers. And on the walk to the bathroom hallway you can see the cook making the crèpes the traditional way – on a giant circular grill with the little wooden spreader.

The crèpe selection is widely varied – veggies, cheese, meats, and the dessert options are plentiful!! And the price is oh so right. Most of the crèpes run in the 5-7 dollar range. A SUPER AFFORDABLE BREAKFAST OR LUNCH, non? I ordered the above pictured strawberry, honey and almond dessert crèpe.

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The crèpe itself was slightly crispy but still retained it’s chewiness. The strawberries were fresh, the honey was not overly sweet and the almonds added a great crunch and nuttiness. My friend ordered a make your own with avocado and jack cheese. It was delicious as well. The cheese was some of the freshest and creamiest I’ve ever tasted.

I was so pleased with this restaurant. I highly highly recommend it. Go and support this local place. Order a crèpe, order a café. Sit and chill for a bit à la vie française!

Sloan’s N.Y. Grill

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Look at that delicious cheesy goodness. Makes your mouth start watering just at the sight.

This delicious bowl of French Onion soup can be found in the teensy city of Oneonta, New York. If you want more of an exact location but are too lazy to Google it, it is about an hour west of Albany (the capital of New York.)

It is out in the middle of rolling hills, trees, farms and sleepy little villages. Yes, there still exist locations officially labeled “village.” And these little towns have just as many varieties of restaurants as you might think.

Sloan’s is a relatively new addition to Oneonta, run by the owner of several other restaurants in the area.  It is, as the name suggests, a grill focusing on steak, chicken and, surprisingly, fish. The menu is relatively short, but there is a little for everyone – red meat, white meat, poultry, seafood and even vegetarians!

As is generally done in these kinds of restaurants, a basket of bread and butter was brought to our table. Nothing to really write home about. And though the butter was supposed to taste like apple, it didn’t seem much different or sweeter than normal sweet cream.

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But then there was the Baked French Onion Soup. This magnificently cheesy and rich soup was the highlight of the dinner for me.

It was full flavoured, definitely had a heavy beef broth base, the onions were caramalized to perfection – they were sweet, buttery, soft and had an ever so slight bite so as not to be mush – the bread was chewy and mild flavoured, and the swiss and provolone cheese melted on top nicely balanced the rest of the soup. It was not overwhelming though it seemed like a lot of cheese at the time, but it added a nice nutty and tangy contrasting flavour palette.

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Finally we have the main dish: New England Cod in a lemon butter wine sauce and crumb topping. It was actually surprisingly SWEET. I am not that familiar with cod, but this one seemed to be cooked nicely – very flaky, not dry at all, and mild flavoured. The crumb topping and the sauce came out extremely sweet. This fish seemed more like a dessert to me than a savoury dish. Normally I wouldn’t complain, but coupled with the rich onion soup, and the nutty fall vegetables of acorn squash and carrots, it was just all too much.

Each component was well executed on its own but combined it was simply an overwhelming and imbalanced dish.

It was an interesting experience. And the service here in the countryside has repeatedly been slow as molasses with sub-par to decent results. Luckily, I don’t have to worry about eating at these limited restaurants for another year or so!

Local and Thirsty Crow Bar

Doesn’t that just look mouth-watering?

The Thirsty Crow is an old timey bar on West Sunset Blvd. The inside is dark lights and aged wood with barrels and character in ever corner. Their mascot is a cartoony crow that you can find here and there in nooks and crannies.

The most unique part of the setup is the food service. Right next door is a small crêpe restaurant called “Local.” There isn’t much to it, but the menu offers delectable options besides crêpes. There are also wraps and salads and burgers. Once you have ordered and paid, you get a number and head back over to the bar. Then you get to sip at your drink while waiting for your food to be delivered.

I ordered the Albóndigas Burger with spicy fries. This was exactly what I’d been craving in a burger for ages. It was moist, bursting with delicate flavors, and a delightful texture. The fries were crisp and had the slightest hint of heat. It was such a delightful meal.

To accompany the meal, I ordered a Sloe Gin and Tonic. I had no idea what Sloe Gin was, but cherry flavoured gin was not what I was expecting at all. The drink was quite nice though! Almost too sweet, but refreshing all the same. And at the bottom? Two black cherries!

Overall, I found this place quite fun and charming. If I were living in LA it would be one of my go-to places.