Whole Life Magazine

October/November 2014

Issue link: http://digital.copcomm.com/i/390790

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Page 15 of 43

taste of health T he Beatles sang "Here comes the sun...and it's all right." But if the Fab Four were singing about SunCafé Organic Cuisine in Studio City, they'd have to change their lyrics from "it's all right" to "it's just great." All grown up and moved from a previous location on Cahuenga where it was a casual eatery known as SunPower Natural Café, SunCafé is a sophisticat- ed dining experience that ranks among the best in Los Angeles, with a menu that's not only vegan, but to a large extent raw. While the food is good for you and or- ganically sourced, it's also incredibly delicious, inventive and well worth a visit, regardless of your culinary proclivities. Located in a charming converted house replete with stun- ning door knobs—the legacy of a William Shatner-helmed re- ality show—the elegant dining space glows like a jewel box at night, and the patio is a perfect spot for al fresco dining anytime. Owners Ron Russell and Rebec- ca Smith have created an airy, light venue to match their bril- liantly creative menu. The only question is where to start. Perhaps you'll want to enjoy creamy vegan carrot-ginger soup, or foamy raw tomato-ba- sil. No soup tonight? Start with lettuce leaf tacos that replace standard corn tortilla shells with, yes, lettuce leaves. Crisp and light, they're the perfect wrap to SunCafé's mix of cashew cheese, pico de gallo, avocado and raw basil ranch dressing, along with "chorizo" made from sunflower seeds, Brazil nuts, garlic and sun- dried tomato. Sun Bruschetta is another fine appetizer, featuring finely chopped fresh tomato, basil, garlic and cashew ricotta on raw sunflower-buckwheat crackers that offer just the right bal- ance of sweet and crisp. Another incredible yet simple dish is Shishito Peppers with cashew cheese. Imagine what all those ter- rible jalapeno poppers at chain restaurants would be like if they had such delicate sweet and spicy flavor. Head chef Roi Elam has taken his skills to the next level with entrées that include raw, deconstructed pizza, raw nachos that replace corn- with crisp jicama chips, and raw lasagna made from zucchini and crowned with pesto. This is food so airy and fragrant that consuming the entire menu seems like a possibility. Among the cooked dishes, mushroom quinoa risotto with spinach is a standout, rich and textured. It's difficult to choose between this and house macaroni and cheese made with quinoa noodles and sunflower seed-based nacho cheese, But wait, there's also warm Farmer's Market pizza topped with tempeh bacon, arugula and fresh figs. Is there room for desert? With co-owner Rebecca Smith at the helm, there had better be. It would be tough to top decisively minty mint chocolate cheese- cake—except with the almond butter chocolate cheesecake, both vegan treats that basically float off the fork. What makes the food so consistently delightful? According to general manager Wally Moran, "Each original recipe has to re- ceive the approval of a six-per- son panel." The reward for this stringency is a diner's delight. What began as a wholesale op- eration creating food items for Whole Foods has evolved into a world-class dining destination. The cocktail menu is simi- larly winning. Bar manager Nevin Kumar is joined by in- ventive mixologist Michael Barrett in creating stunning beer and wine cocktails, such as the Carosello Cooler made from Cynar, lemon, spearmint and Cuvee Des Jacobins Rouge draft beer. There are 18 wines by the glass to choose from and 9 craft beers on tap, along with a variety of bottle selections. House-made grapefruit-sage kombucha is a refreshing non-al- coholic option. Can raw, vegan and gluten-free food really be this good? It may "seem like years since it's been clear," to quote George Harrison, but here comes SunCafé to definitively answer, "Yes." —10820 Ventura Blvd, Studio City, CA 91604, 818.308.7420 By Genie Davis Rustic organic vegan in Studio City SUNCAFÉ photos: Jack Burke 16 wholelifetimesmagazine.com

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