Whole Life Magazine

April / May 2018

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Page 12 of 35

eat here now B otanica isn't just a restaurant, it's a lifestyle. A market, a restaurant, and a magazine, Botanica is all about eating nat- urally, eating deliciously, and being healthy. What could be better than that? Open Wed through Sunday from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m., the hip Sil- ver Lake spot's tag line is "Vegetables, Cocktails, Natural Wine, Good Times," and that essentially sums it up. Opened in a former liquor store, the bright, airy spot uses organic and sustainable pro- duce, cheeses, and meats; is centered on vegetable-rich options and eschews any processed foods. Created by food-writer friends Heather Sperling and Emily Fiffer, the dishes they offer are as vi- brantly presented as they are delicious. Menu items lean toward Mediterranean style, in part due to Sperling's Lebanese heritage. The dishes are seasonal, and this time of year, diners can enjoy breakfast meals such as the Morning Mezze which includes a fra- grant roasted squash hummus and market vegetable salad with dukkah — nuts, seeds, and spices. It comes with a six-minute egg with salsa verde; marinated olives; and the thick, comfort of Bub & Grandma's bread. Vegans will love Our Favorite Romesco, which is a succulent mix of seared winter vegetables, charred leeks, pee- wee potatoes, almonds, and cilantro. Or dig into a delicious and carefully curated salad for lunch such as A Simple Green Salad which the menu honestly accurately de- scribes as having "the prettiest soft lettuces" along with shaved fennel and shallot vinaigrette. Denser is the Fattoush-y Salad, which features a nice, crisp mix of both grilled and raw market vegetables, orchard fruit, sumac-crisped focaccia, with a zingy gar- lic labne and za'atar dressing. We loved best the Rice Noodles, Herbs, & Greens, which had nicely sweet soy-honey roasted beets, pungent pickled vegetables, peanuts, fried shallots, and garlic. The beets alone could make a meal. In the evening, try a Maitake Mushroom Tartine, which is made with an airy whipped tahini, glistening olive tapenade, fried sun- chokes, dill, and mint, all on Bub & Grandma's crusty bread. An- other great vegan dish: the Cassoulet Vert, with cannellini beans, an herbal pistou, and fried garlic gremolata, which is accompanied by nice garden salad of herbs and greens. One of the nicest things about the menus here, along with their freshness, is their inventive take on Middle Eastern/Mediterranean style and locavore produce. Flavor reigns, and much of that fl avor is due to fresh herbs and a lovely mix of oils, nuts, and seeds. For dessert, there are drool-worthy favorites such as Chocolate Olive Oil Tart that's gluten free and as rich as its name suggests; lighter is the Orange Almond Cake with roasted fruit, also glu- ten free and nicely balanced, not too sweet. But fresh fruit and extremely tasty gluten-free vegan cookies are also an option — choices include oat-date-walnut-smoked cinnamon; sesame-ma- ple crisps; and coconut hemp bars. But honestly, despite my predilection for chocolate, my favorite dessert was an extremely appealing choice I haven't seen at other L.A.-area restaurants: a sweet and savory combination of dates, tahini, olive oil, and sea salt that satisfi es the craving for sweet and savory and all-natural in one swoop. And when it comes to cocktails and wines, Botanica offers a bevy of choices too. Natural wines are varied and appealing, in both domestic and international bottles. Try the Ruth Lewandows- ki "Dinos to Diamonds" Riesling, California-made — and the pro- ceeds from which benefi t a Sonoma charity helping undocument- ed farm workers. From across the pond, there's the delightful crisp apple and mineral fl avor of La Pépière 'La Pépie' Muscadet 2015, from France's Loire valley. You'll also fi nd champagne — under a menu section called "All Bubbly Everything," beer, and cider, too, but perhaps best of all are the fresh, veggie-centric cocktails. We loved the almost-sweet Carrot vodka, with oloroso sherry, ginger, carrot juice, and lemon; perhaps even better was the herb-rich Cucumber Amaro Sfuma- to, with Escubac, Laphroaig, ginger, lemon, and cucumber. The smoky Laphroaig Scotch in the drink was a special treat. Botanica is located at 1620 Silver Lake Blvd. in Silver Lake; they're available for delivery, too. http://botanicarestaurant.com Photos: Courtesy of Botanica By Genie Davis It's a Natural Hit BOTANICA April/May 2018 13

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