Who: VN Senior Editor Elizabeth Castoria + Editorial Assistant Lisa Mickleborough
What: Pre-flight dinner
Where: Madeleine Bistro, Tarzana, Calif.
When: May 10, 2008
Why: How could we be in LA and not go?
The Scoop: As you've already read, Lisa and I enjoyed quite the event at WorldFest. After a day full of talking with people, checking out other exhibitors, and, of course, playing with puppies, we were famished. Was it fate that WorldFest was held in Encino—mere minutes away from Madeleine Bistro? Whether our dinner there was pre-destined or not, we knew there was nowhere else we'd rather go.
Since we had to keep an eye on the clock—missing our late-night flight back to SF was not an option—we decided we'd order just one entrée each and forgo all the incredibly tempting appetizers, first courses, and desserts. When we walked in and met Molly Anderson—who owns the restaurant with her husband and executive chef, David (whom you may remember from a little something called the 2007 Veggie Awards)—our plans took a turn for the delicious. Molly graciously did a bit of extra ordering for us. The first thing to arrive at the table? Doughnuts!
With such an auspicious beginning, it was hard to imagine what would come next. To our utter delight, plates arrived bearing the creamiest mac 'n' cheese either of us had ever tasted. Next? Very yummy mushroom potstickers, and Madeleine Bistro's signature appetizer, the beet tartare, which comes served on a disc of homemade vegan cheese (see above!). Are you sitting down, already? Because there's more: While we were still revelling in the appetizers, Molly came to the table with a burger and said, "You have to try the Bigger Maque." It was, literally, a vegan Big Mac. We died. Then, the entrées arrived. We died again, but rallied enough to thoroughly enjoy chicken-fried steak with mashed potatoes and rich, delicious gravy, and tofu scallops atop a bed of green beans and shiitake mushrooms. So that was it, right? Well, no, actually. But what kind of dessert could follow a meal like that? Oh, I think the chocolate soufflé that came next did a fine job. No joke: vegan chocolate soufflé. It was like eating a little cloud of heavenly chocolate cake batter. See its majesty below, in a photo that in no way does it justice. And, as though we hadn't been spoiled enough, there was also cannoli. You read that right. Cannoli.
It was absolutely worth it to run from the security checkpoint all the way to the farthest possible gate at LAX to have the opportunity to spend time with Molly and enjoy what was, without exaggeration, the best meal either of us had ever ever eaten.