Sage Vegan – Echo Park’s answer to upscale vegan dining

Quick story. On a particularly trying evening I needed my vegan ice cream fix and needed it bad. Problem? It was 10 pm and the Studio City location of Kind Kreme was closed. This specific evening was so trying in fact that any store-bought vegan variety would not do. No, Kind Kreme had to happen and I was willing to go to any lengths to get it. In this case any lengths meant driving 45 minutes to the Echo Park location to arrive  just before closing (10:55 what what) and ordering a 3 scoop raw vegan brownie sundae for one. Let’s just say it was an all time low. Anyways, the point of this story is to let you all know how I discovered Sage Organic Vegan Bistro. Sage shares a space with Kind Kreme, and is a relatively new addition to the more upscale vegan restaurants that have been popping up all over LA. When I realized there was a vegan restaurant inside the Kind Kreme I knew I had to come back to indulge double time. This weekend I finally made it back to Echo Park so I could get my Sage AND Kind Kreme fix all in the same night. Clearly, I showed up earlier than 11 this go around.

Sage Organic Vegan Bistro

1700 W Sunset Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90026

Hours: Mon-Wed 11 am – 10 pm, Thu-Fri 11 am – 11 pm, Sat-Sun 9 am – 4 pm, Sat 5 pm – 11 pm, Sun 5 pm – 10 pm

This bi-level Echo Park eatery is located on an otherwise unexciting block of Sunset. This past Saturday night Sage was popping – my dinner guest and I put our names down and we waited about 15 minutes before we were seated. Not bad for no rezzies on a Saturday night, but for some reason I wasn’t expecting it to be quite as crowded as it was.

Sage, like so many vegan restaurants I have been to lately, is BYOB. So take note if you want to accompany your meal with a bottle.

We were seated upstairs which seemed awesome before we actually sat down – a birds eye view of the restaurant is great right? Wrong – because within 10 minutes we were sweating our faces off to such an intense degree I was using the menu as a fan. Maybe it was the huge party of 20 upstairs next to us or maybe it was the heat of the overwhelmingly bright lights, but mopping up sweat from your face whilst trying to enjoy a meal is not a good look.

View from upstairs - pre shvitz fest '11

The service was pretty bad too. Granted it was super busy, but our waiter constantly forgot about us and at times was even dismissive. Dislike.

Despite profusely sweating and having to practically beg to be waited on, my hopes were high as I have heard amazing things about Sage’s creative and massive menu.  When we finally ordered (which wasn’t even from our waiter mind you, the owner/manager came by and she ended up taking our orders when we commented how good another table’s food looked) we were ravenous.

We started with the Succotash Fritters with Heirloom Fried Tomatoes, which our waiter highly recommended. It sounded so unique and anything fried is obviously delicious, so I was automatically on board.

Succotash fritters and fried heirloom tomato over red pepper remoulade, maple syrup and pistachio chutney

Spoiler alert: this was by far and away my favorite dish of the night. The fritter was crispy and hearty, the fried tomato was obviously insane and the pistachio topping was to die for. The full bite tasted like fried bacon – don’t know why but it was a really really good thing, promsies. 100% must order. So inventive, so flavorful and I ate every last bite. Yum.

For our second app we ordered Sage’s unique take on tater tots.

Handmade zucchini and sweet potato tater tots with chipotle ketchup

Liked these tots. Not as blow your mind amazing as the previous app, but pretty good. Not sure I would order them again in favor of trying some of their other mouthwateringly described starters.

Next up we ordered two entrees to share. The Soul Bowl and the Jack Daniels BBQ Jackfruit. One was pretty good and one was a straight up disaster.

Soul Bowl - roasted sweet potato, black beans, okra, baby corn, garlic polenta, horseradish and deep fried mac and cheese with pickled jalapeño cabbage

The soul bowl was a winner. I loved the sauce it came with and there were a couple amazing components to the dish. First let’s talk about the fried mac n cheese ball in this bowl of joy. Holly deep-fried crispy ball of heaven. This was BANANAS. If I was feeling like a fat kid I would order a full dish of nothing but these balls and be on cloud nine. It was unbelievably amazing. The garlic polenta with horseradish was also super duper yummy. Not so shocking the carbiest things in the bowl were my fav. The rest of the dish was simple but good: steamed veggies and quinoa. I would order this again as it was filling and perfectly balanced between healthy and indulgent. Recommend.

The Jackfruit Sandwich was the meal’s low.

Jack Daniels Barbeque Jackfruit - marinated jackfruit, caramelized onion, baby arugula, garlic aioli, served open-faced and covered in homemade spicy barbecue sauce

The sauce tasted like  sauce. It tasted absolutely nothing like bbq sauce and was way too sweet. The jackfruit was bland and the side salad was barely dressed. Not one thing on the plate was even okay. Huge thumbs down. So huge in fact we were forcing ourselves to take bites when I suggested we send it back. I’m not a huge fan of sending things back I don’t care for but why should we force ourselves to eat something we hated when we enjoyed all of the other dishes. When we asked the waiter if we could return the dish he gave us so much tude I was shocked. I’ve worked at several restaurants before and I know it’s really no inconvenience to the waiter to send back food whatsoever, so I was pretty off put by his aggravated air. He clearly didn’t apologize for the dishes lack of yumminess either. Rude.

We decided to order the brussel sprout appetizer to share since we weren’t crazy hungry at this point but wanted to get one more thing to try.

Brussel sprouts, summer squash and tempeh bacon sautéed in garlic sage butter

This app also came highly recommended by our waiter, but sadly it was just okay. The entire dish tasted so strongly of mustard any other possible flavor notes were overpowered. Meh, it was okay. I wouldn’t get it again though.

Even though post dinner we were stuffed we had to get some Kind Kreme since it was right in front of our faces. Sadly, unlike the Studio City location, this Kind Kreme has no soft-serve machine. Their flavors were also lacking – zero salted caramel, superfoods or any other note worthy flavors I usually get inappropriately excited over.

We settled on a scop of chocolate and a scoop of mocha latte.

Chocolate and Mocah Latte Ice Kreme

Love Kind Kreme but these were not my favorite flavors. I liked the latte better than the boring old chocolate so I guess that’s good. Maybe I was just in a bad mood at this point…

I have to say I was pretty disappointed with my Sage dining experience. I was expecting BIG things and it delivered only a little. If all the dishes on the menu were as good as the succotash app then I would be singing a different tune, but from the impossibly hot table, the rude waiter and the mediocrity of most dishes, Sage left me with a bad taste in my mouth. I would give it another go to try other menu items, just not on a crowded Saturday night. Hope this Kind Kreme stocks up with some better flavors too. Next time….


Your Vegan Girlfriend


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