Crossroads: A Road Best Not Crossed.

I had bookmarked this place for literally years, awaiting to go there on a fancy date night, a festivity of some sort, or to simply treat myself. After years of none of these events panning out, I decided to just go in with a friend for the sheer sake of saying I’d been to the “oh so acclaimed” vegan-fine-dining staple known as “Crossroads”.

First is first, the decor is up to standard with what you would imagine the best of fine dining experiences; dim-lit, wide-spaced and beautiful table-clothing; even the menus are beautifully designed; so the place is beautiful but as the saying goes, “Looks only get you so far in life.”¬†This is exactly the case with Crossroads.

My main issue with Crossroads is the food: it’s not phenomenal; it’s subpar, superior at best: just ok. Call it what you want, but it falls shorts of the prestige this restaurant maintains in both the L.A vegan dining scene and fine dining in general. I’ve even given this place two opportunities to prove me wrong in my seemingly critical reception, and both times have proved me right and the last left a bitter taste–literally.

As to what I’ve tried…

The Lasagna: this dish was decent but in no way, shape or form innovative; almond-ricotta in between layers of pasta topped with Marinara sauce. Yes, it’s good but nothing more. I don’t even care that the portion is the size of a starter at other vegan restaurants (this goes hand-in-hand with fine dining), I just thought it was ok. I’ve ordered similar items before elsewhere and unfortunately Crossroad’s reputation of excellent vegan faire fell way short.

This was my first time…

I came in again last week with a group of friends, one is the closest embodiment I will ever meet of Capote’s “Holly Golightly”; she loves her beachside views, lavish twenties-thirties themed house parties and fancy ambiance settings; I love this woman and would go to the most average of eateries to make her happy. That noted, Crossroads was on her mind last Saturday night and I figured “I should give this place a second go…why not?”

So we come with a group of five, which considering how last minute this gathering was planned, I appreciate the quickly and amiability from both the host and servers in seating us; we waited a maximum of maybe fifteen minutes on their busiest night of the week.

Once seated, I look through the menu and was determined to try something new. The options are all sounded interesting enough: Butternut Squash Pizza, Meatball Pizza, Charred Ricotta, Impossible Cigars, The Milanese and the Lentil-Tempeh; at the least the names were appealing. So I go for the Charred Ricotta and Lentil-Tempeh because I learned from my first time that one dish will never cut it at Crossroads. The rest of my group goes primarily for the pizzas, with two ordering the Butternut Squash and the other opts for the Meatball option, the promise of “Impossible Meat” meatballs reeling him in; my friend who suggested the whole outing decides to not get anything, with hopes of being able to make a last-minute pit-stop at the bar to order some Impossible Sliders after our meal. I felt bad for her but at the same time, to each their own; the bar menu was not inviting enough for me to ditch our table seating for the visibly less comfortable bar arrangement.

Our servers takes our order and our food arrives quickly. I wasn’t surprised as the same expediency occurred on my first visit here.

As for my food this time around:

Charred Ricotta: probably my favorite thing at Crossroads–ever. The Ricotta was perfectly charred, and as creamy as nut cheeses go; the bread was excellently prepared, soaking in some oil (assumably olive oil) and just really tasty. A side of cranberries are served with this dish to balance-out the savoriness of the bread and creaminess of the cheese, which I liked but wouldn’t rave home about. All in all, a solid starter.

The Impossible Cigars: Also good; these were crispy, like thin eggs rolls, and filled with impossible meat. I had never tried Impossible Meat before, but I enjoyed them.

Meatball Pizza: Also containing Impossible Meat in its meatballs, but this dish was just ok. The crust was an afterthought and the marinara was underwhelming; I’ve had much better vegan pizza.

On a side note; as someone who has previously had “Beyond Meat” countless times and now that I’ve tried Impossible Meat, I don’t understand the hype about the latter’s popularity; sure, it’s good, but it’s not superior in taste to Beyond Meat or other vegan-veggie parties I’ve tried. It’s just ok…like most items served at Crossroads.

Now, as to the most disappointing and yes, literally bitter after-tasting dish at Crossroads:

The Lentil-Tempeh:

This dish was just sad and foul; from the saltiness of the purried-liquified lentils to the bitterness of the olives, I couldn’t believe a place with a reputation such as Crossroads’ could present this is as a signature dish…this is not the case at all. Steer clear of this dish…please…

All in all, the food is just average at Crossroads, and the only highlighting points lie in the carefully designed menus, excellent service (I have never had such attentive bussers and refilled water cups in my life) and the ambiance, which is undeniably beautiful. But, if top-notch, out-of-the-ball park food is the name of your game, I would seriously consider looking elsewhere to get your vegan-foodie fix; Crossroads only meets the road half-way, and I think this complimenting might be a bit generous.

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