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Award-Winning Vegan Restaurant Erven Adds Meat and Dairy to the Menu

Why Santa Monica’s plant-based hero is adding in animal protein

Inside Erven, Santa Monica’s Plant-Based Ode to the Healthy Lifestyle
Erven, Santa Monica
Wonho Frank Lee
Farley Elliott is the Senior Editor at Eater LA and the author of Los Angeles Street Food: A History From Tamaleros to Taco Trucks. He covers restaurants in every form, from breaking news to the culture, people, and history that surrounds LA's dining landscape.

LA Weekly has an interesting report out today about Erven, the critical darling of a restaurant in Santa Monica that, until now, was exclusively vegan. That’s all changing in real time, as namesake chef Nick Erven (who himself has never vegan) has decided to let in some animal proteins and dairy to the menu.

Erven speaks with critic Besha Rodell, telling her that the move is spurred, in part at least, by flagging sales at the restaurant. More importantly though, the popular chef — who earned big acclaim at the short-lived Saint Martha in Koreatown — says he wanted to explore a wider variety of flavor profiles and ingredients. The somewhat limiting vegan parameters were what ultimately drew Rodell to leave a what-might-have-been review of the place back in January, where she asked aloud about what Erven the chef may be able to accomplish if Erven the restaurant were allowed to expand and change.

Now the menu will include things like fried chicken thighs, with vegan options noted using a V on the menu. No doubt plant-based eaters will be a touch miffed at the change, but in Santa Monica — where high rents and fast casual reign supreme — the move to a more inclusive menu just seems like a fact of life for Erven and his team, even after winning awards for being the best, most inventive vegan restaurant in town.