Sage was the very first place serving raw vegan food in the U.S. we went to. We arrived pretty late, we took the bus to our motel where we spend the first night in L.A. We were kind of hungry and curious so we left our luggage there and walk a mile or so to the Cafe that called Sage Organic something back then. Most of the dishes were cooked, but the dinner menu has some raw option, so we tried them all. The cake on top and the chocolate shake were way too much. We had a nice memory of this place. So we went back. For a quick breakfast before picking our produce at the produce wholesale.
What we had
Walnut cranberry “meat”, sun-dried tomato, cashew cheese, guacamole, and pico de gallo in lettuce taco shell.
It’s 11:03, we are the first customers. We know we want the tacos ($13) and they are coming out pretty fast. As I remembered them. Smoky, sweet, hearty meat, crunchy lettuce, spicy sauce, the perfect raw vegan tacos. We got 2, so we shared them. They don’t seem like much, but the guacamole and the meat are very nourishing and satisfying. The smoky flavor of the meat makes me wanna bet a smoking gun for when I’m back to Europe, craving it.
Cheeses & Crackers
Cheese plate & raw vegetable crackers
I remembered having a gourmet cheese plate ($10) with cheeses, crackers, veggies and desperately wanted to have it. I must have it, as there is nothing else raw on the menu, except for a salad. I described the dish and the servant moves this finger up on the menu that I’m holding in my hand to the section saying “after 5 pm”, rapidly hitting it with this restless finger in they way annoyed preschool teachers do. So I can’t get it now? No! I waited for him to kind of help me out on this one, maybe suggesting something else. But the restless finger was gone. We figured it out ourselves, just ordered the cheeses and the crackers as they were on the breakfast menu in the “sides” section. We got the dill and the paprika cheese. The veggie cracker. So almost the cheese platter minus the cucumber and carrot slices I suppose.
Unfortunately, the crackers and the cheeses tasted extremely salty to me. Stefan didn’t find them too salty, so we I gave them a try. I was convincing myself that I might be confusing bitter with salty, which is possible if they use unpeeled zucchini in the crackers. But I was very thirsty afterwards and had to get water at Lassens across the street, so I suppose it must have been just way too much salt for my liking.
The texture of the crackers is great, they are softer than the usual fax cracker, thicker, like an unsweetened sand cookie. Definitely great, minus the salt.
The Sage experience
It’s a trendy, hipster, modern place by day. Perfect for a quick breakfast or lunch, a scoop of ice cream, or a smoothie. It has a unique busy market hall atmosphere that I like, but don’t enjoy for too long. Everything on the lower level screams eat and leave, what seems to be the Sage’s concept. The service is very bad, rude, repelling in the mornings. We were 5 minutes too early, we didn’t see the door sign saying “closed” and came in. Instantly we were shouted at by 2 people “We’re closed” which is ok, but how about a suggestion to wait on the patio and come back in x minutes. In shock we take a step back searching the door for a hint on when they open, if they open that day at all. We are confused. My PhD in occupational psychology tells me these people are overwhelmed with tasks or/and want to reduce the amount of work. And what works better than scaring customers away. But we don’t care about that, we are here to eat the food. So we wait outside. 11:07, the door sign still turned on “closed”, I’m like “we are going inside now”.
We got everything we wanted here. I’m taking home a great idea for a taco recipe and couple of beautiful shots.
Don’t be intimidated by the rude men working there. Just ignore them. I’m a really demanding customer, I ask a million questions about organic, I want to sit in 5 places to have the best light. So I don’t even try to be liked by the service personnel. Not gonna work. The girls at the bar are very nice and helpful, talk to them if you have any questions.
In the evening, the place totally transforms. The service is much better, nicer, the place feels cosier, at least the upper level. Definitely worth going to Sage on different days at different times.
I’m sure, it’s the place to meet new vegan friends, it’s very easy to start a conversation here.
That’s how I’m recreating smokey raw vegan meat at home
Smoking gun for cold smoking
If you love burgers, tacos, gyro, you need this smoking gun.
Who else if not Matthew Kenny gave me this idea. I had smoked raw vegan cheeses at the M.A.K.E. restaurant back in 2013 and asked how they create this unbelievable smokey flavor. Here some tips.
Try different flavors, it so much fun to experiment in the kitchen.