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Crossroads, L.A.'s latest culinary treasure, intrigues the palate

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If you think plant-based dining doesn't sound appealing, you haven't been to Crossroads Kitchen. It's so delicious they don't even label it as a plant-based restaurant, and the food is so tasty and satisfying, you forget it is. In fact, if you're an omnivore like me, you may even be converted. Okay, at least for a day. ;) But after eating here once, you'll definitely be back. There's no doubt as to why it's being touted as one of L.A.'s best new restaurants. I decided to bring my friend Maryl Celiz Paz along as she is an expert in plant-based eating. She has even written a book about it and recommended Crossroads to me. It's the first upscale plant-based restaurant in L.A. You walk into a gorgeous, dimly-lit dining room adorned with elegant mahogany furniture and comfortable red leather booths, it's the perfect date place too.

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We started our meal off with the exquisite Cauliflower Bisque, a very creamy, flavorful bisque topped with crispy capers to add a little crunch. It's divine! My friend was commenting how it's very difficult to create a creamy soup without any dairy, and at Crossroads, they really have this feat down to perfection. You definitely won't be missing any cream here!

Next, we moved on to something lighter, the Beet and Citrus Salad with candied walnuts, Kite Hill almond cheese, fresh grapefruit, orange segments, and balsamic gastrique. This is a great, refreshing start to your meal if you're looking for something on the lighter side. Of course, you only get the freshest ingredients at Crossroads, which you will taste in every bite of this salad.

We then enjoyed the Tortelloni, which was just heavenly, filled with almond cheese, oven-dried tomatoes and topped with parsley frisée salad atop a lovely spinach cream. All the pastas at Crossroads are housemade from scratch, which really comes through in the freshness of the pasta. And it has the perfect texture, as well.

We were then treated to the popular Artichoke Oysters, Crossroads' creative take on fresh oysters, made with artichoke purée, crispy oyster mushroom, yellow tomato béarnaise and kelp caviar. The textures and flavors married beautifully in this equally aesthetic appetizer. Be aware that it won't fill you up much, but will whet your appetite for more.

Then we tried the Cauliflower Sauté, made with nicoise olives, castelvetrano olives, sundried tomato, calabrese peppers, extra virgin olive oil and marcona almonds. By reading all the ingredients you just know it's going to be very flavorful and delicious, and fortunately, it tastes as good as it sounds, if not better. In fact, I couldn't put my fork down. Luckily my friend isn't a fan of spicy food, and this dish does have a kick, so it just meant for me. ;) The good thing is it's not filling.

What is filling is the most amazing Truffle Leek Flat Bread that will definitely satisfy you, without making you full. You know anything with truffle is going to be divine, but add caramelized leeks, roasted mushroom, almond ricotta and frisée to the mix, and you'll be in heaven. This paired exquisitely with the nice Pinot Noir I had.

The next dish I tried did put my mouth in a bit of a shock as my taste buds aren't used to bitter greens, and the Rapini is as better as you get. Wikipedia describes rapini as a green vegetable similar to broccoli with a slightly bitter taste. I would change that to extremely bitter. But perhaps that's because I'm a bitter greens virgin. My friend Maryl, on the other hand, devoured Crossroads' Rapini dish prepared with black garlic, chile, lemon, toasted hazelnut and sherry vinegar. They make a great attempt at making these bitter greens appealing to a plant-based newbie like myself, but perhaps I need more training. If you're not accustomed to them either, I don't recommend ordering them, unless, of course, you're up for a challenge.

Luckily I had the Comforting Classics of Pappardelle Bolognese and Scalloppini Parmesan to move onto, which were both absolutely scrumptious. While these are both meaty dishes obviously prepared traditionally with meat, you would never even know it's missing here! The Pappardelle is thick strips of pasta at its best, topped with a "bolognese" sauce made with wheat protein Italian sausage, which tastes like the real thing. Meat lovers won't miss a thing! And the Scalloppini Parmesan was so fantastic, you wouldn't know it's not chicken. It has the same firm texture, and the taste is very similar. Actually, I would say it's even better. It was exquisite!

It's no wonder that everything at Crossroads is made to perfection when it's at the hands of renowned Chef Tal Ronnen who became known nationwide as the chef who prepared the meals for Oprah Winfrey’s 21-day cleanse. He's also catered many high-profile events, like Ellen DeGeneres and Portia de Rossi’s wedding, Arianna Huffington’s party at the Democratic National Convention, and a U.S. Senate dinner. Backed by his team, executive chef Scot Jones and executive pastry chef Serafina Magnussen, you really are getting the cream of the crop. Making non-meat dishes taste like they actually have meat is an art all in its own!

Before moving on to dessert, we were treated with a cheese plate in true European fashion, though of course the Kite Hill cheese plate is made with nuts, not dairy. You'll also get housemade jams and tasty bread to accompany the cheese. I enjoyed it, though I prefer regular cheese. My friend Maryl, on the other hand, told me it's a dream for plant-based and vegan eaters.

For dessert, we indulged in the Lemon Cake, Banana Bread Pudding, and Dark Chocolate Mousse, which was divine...a rich, dark chocolate exemplary of chocolate at its best, not too sweet. My favorite was probably the Banana Bread Pudding with rum caramel...absolutely delicious!

You definitely have to get to Crossroads soon, before it will be harder to make a reservation. And you never know what celebrity you'll find there! The best part is though, the place is not pretentious, but comfortable. Crossroads is located at 8284 Melrose Ave. Call {323} 782-9245 for reservations and visit their website at www.crossroadskitchen.com for more information. You could also find Crossroads on Facebook. Bon appetit!

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