REVIEW: Sage Bistro delivers fresh organic flavors to vegan dishes

Many think of a vegan diet as rabbit food. However, Sage Bistro proves that vegan food can be full of flavor. The restaurant’s menu entirely consists of plant-based ingredients purchased from local farmers. Through weekly communication with farmers, Sage works to ensure that diners receive the best tasting food.

Sage Bistro has three Los Angeles locations in Culver City, Echo Park and Pasadena. Before entering the Culver City location, diners must make their way through a maze of potted plants that decorate the entrance to the restaurant. The interior style of the restaurant resembles a rustic farmhouse, which creates both a trendy atmosphere for young couples and a comfortable environment for families.

Despite naming items that are composed entirely of plants, the menu at Sage is extensive and includes brunch, lunch, dinner and dessert. The prices of small plates and sides range from $7 to $14, and most of their entrees average $15 each.

For small plates, Sage’s waiters recommend the cauliflower wings, the fried brussel sprouts and the single pretzel.

The tender cauliflower is coated with the diner’s choice of sweet and sour or buffalo sauce. For those hesitating to order the spicy buffalo sauce, have no fear — the creamy dipping sauce served with the cauliflower helps to tame the flame. The brussel sprouts are sauteed to perfection and paired with a habanero cream cheese sauce, and the warm, soft dough of the pretzel melts in the mouth.

With entrees, Sage Bistro’s most noteworthy options include the butternut squash ravioli, the eggplant arrabiata, the falafel bowl and the Brazilian bowl.

The butternut squash involves four large raviolis served on a bed of kale. Inside each ravioli, the sweet squash filling is offset by a zesty pesto sauce. The soft linguini noodles of the next stand out pasta were served with tender eggplant slices, cashew “cheese” and vegetable and brown rice meatballs.

The falafel bowl mixes leafy greens, basmati rice, quinoa and falafel with cucumber, onions, roma tomato, avocado, orange slices and fresh cilantro. Although the falafels were hard and dry, the sweet tzatziki, mango aioli sauces and hummus were delicious enough to compensate.

Overall, the entrees were as appetizing for the stomach as they were for the eyes since they mingled the colors and flavors of numerous plants and spices.

Diners can finish off their meal with a homemade good — Sage’s famous ice kreme or a shake for dessert. The dessert flavors change depending on the day and season, but no matter the time of year, the ice kreme is a must-try. Despite being made from a coconut base, the ice kreme tastes like normal ice cream — maybe even creamier.

Reservations are recommended, since Sage becomes crowded during popular dining hours. The staff and service were friendly, but inconsistent. Once seated, the appetizers and entrees came out quickly — almost too quickly. The waiter brought the entrees only minutes after the appetizers. As the restaurant grew busier later in the evening, the service became very lax. Though the service did not match the restaurant’s offerings, the delicious food more than made up for it. As a restaurant that offers guests both a new perspective on the vegan diet and a delicious meal, Sage Bistro is a treat for vegans and meat eaters alike.