The Sage Plant Based Bistro & Brewery is a local mini chain, with locations in Agoura Hills, Echo Park and Pasadena, as well as right here in Culver City on Sepulveda. We’ve never been to any of the others, so we don’t know how uniform the farm-vibe decor is (inside and out), but it’s great fun to approach the restaurant after parking and immediately be greeted by a real tractor.
A turn into the outdoor dining area, and the agricultural machinery theme continues; a license plate and various mechanical objects have been arranged into the shape of a tractor and fixed to a wooden board. Tools hang from wire fencing – it’s a real trip.
The aim, of course, is to hammer home the idea that the food we’re about to eat is all natural – it’s truly nature’s bounty. It works well. The idea of “farm to table” is very appealing in this world of overly processed foods. Of course, that doesn’t always mean that the food is healthy, but you stand a better chance of finding something not overflowing with salt, sugar and chemicals.
Sage is a vegan restaurant. This writer isn’t a vegan or even a vegetarian, but it’s undeniable that vegan food has come a long way over the past decade or so. Chefs have gotten more and more inventive, and it’s good to take a break from meat and dairy every now and again, both for health and environmental reasons.
Choosing from the lunch menu, we opted for the Hot “Wing” Salad and the Brazilian Bowl. The “Wing” is in quotes because obviously, there are no wings in the dish. Rather, a fresh green salad consisting of mixed leaves, carrot and celery sticks, and a generous amount of avocado (plus a vegan ranch dressing to add at your pleasure) comes complete with breaded and seasoned cauliflower and a tangy, spicy buffalo sauce.
It’s a simple yet effective and ultimately delicious dish. The hot sauce and ranch balance each other out perfectly, While the freshness of the salad counters the comfort food feel of the breaded vegetable. Importantly, the cauliflower is neither too heavy nor too greasy. But still, it feels like a treat.
The Brazilian bowl is named that, we assume, because of the delectable sticky plantain that sits on top. The bowl otherwise consists of kale, black beans, guacamole and pico de gallo with chopped jalapeño, leeks, and crimini mushrooms, all on a bed of rice or quinoa. We went with the quinoa.
The kale, so often an unbearably bitter and tough leaf, is cooked wonderfully here, and the flavor compliments the sweetness of the plantain. The pico and Guac add the most intense flavors, but the underdog star of the show is the leek. Often derided as “week onion,” it really shines in this dish.
Ultimately, the food was great and so was the service. The prices are a little steep, but we’d certainly go again.
Sage Plant Based Bistro & Brewery is located at 4130 Sepulveda Blvd., Culver City. Call 424-228-5835 or visit sageveganbistro.com.