Hollywood vegetarians and vegans are starting to perk up and take notice of Cruciferous, a quiet newcomer to the massive strip mall at the corner of Fountain and Vine. The spare dining room is doing something you don’t see often around town: finer dining vegan food, from housemade almond ricotta to an elegant pea risotto that has all the makings of a dish you’d find at places like Kali, Crossroads, or Baroo — and that’s a very good thing.
Cruciferous is named for the brassica family of vegetables, including cauliflower, broccoli, and brussels sprouts. Indeed those ingredients play major parts in the trim menu, which runs a scant nine dishes and hovers at $14 for most plates, with nothing over $18.
The signature dish is likely to be the General Tso’s brussels sprouts, a crunchy, saucy take on a familiar flavor profile. The casual dish actually won in the “best savory” category at this year’s Vegan Street Fair, and word from the waitstaff is that it gets dropped at just about every table, every night.
The rest of the shareable menu is mostly made up as slightly larger versions of what you’d expect to see as side dishes in other restaurants: a Caesar salad from The Garden Of Farm, a bread and butter plate using house baked bread and almond ricotta. You can even sub in gluten-free bread for a couple bucks more.
But there are a few decidedly surprising dishes, like a whole head of smoked cauliflower, carved tableside over a couple heavy swipes of cashew cream cheese and dashed with a bit of pistachio oil. There’s a touch of heat, smoke, and nuttiness, and the tableside prep is a nice touch for a strip mall place that serves shrubs and sodas from stemless wine glasses. The white tablecloths and candles are already here, the wine license is hopefully coming.
Cruciferous only soft opened last week for reservations, and started taking walk-ins on Wednesday night. The restaurant is the work of Marie Chia and partner Shane, who previously ran pop-ups under the names S+M Vegan and Blind Tiger Dining in and around San Francisco. Now they’ve partnered up with Doomie (of Doomie’s Home Cookin’ next door) to offer a lighter alternative to the vegan big macs and other comfort fare he’s most known for.
The kitchen is also an entirely collaborative one, much like Scratch Bar up in Encino. Prep and line cooks run dishes and bus plates, and there’s a 20% “equality charge” added to every bill, with no option to tip further.
For now, Cruciferous runs Wednesday through Sunday, 5:30 p.m. to 10 p.m., though you may see those hours expand down the line. Much like previous strip mall hits such as Kato or Baroo, there’s something surprising about the place — something you, predictably, wouldn’t expect just from glancing inside while walking past. With a lean on quality produce, relatively low prices, and tons of housemade vegan options, it’s easy to see Cruciferous growing into something even more special soon. And with Doomie’s next door and the new all-vegan Cocobella Creamery anchoring the end of the strip mall, Hollywood’s got a secret new vegan restaurant row to explore.
1253 Vine St. #8
Los Angeles, CA