Purple ruffles, African blue, turkey yakitori, red baby beats, raw chocolate pâté. Sounds like poetry.
There is a certain ethereal quality to the menu and ambiance at Basil Park, Tim Andriola's newest eatery, just a quick stroll from his other venture, Timo. Where the latter is dolled up with white tablecloths, mood lighting, and heavy fare, Basil Park is a decidedly lighter departure. The restaurant hits on our health-craze nerve in the midst of a food revolution.
"What we're doing here, it's the future of food," says Andriola. "And that's the way it should be."
Yes, there are the usual suspects we've come to love, or depending on whom you talk to, be wary of -- kale chips, edamame, quinoa, nori, and wheatgrass -- but the restaurant relies on fun twists and substitutes to both surprise and satisfy diners.
Take the kale chips ($7), for example: dehydrated and seasoned with onion, garlic, Celtic gray salt, and cayenne, they're a crunchy, spicy treat that should lure you away from any old bag of Lay's.
"It's hard to find tasty, healthy food," says partner Rodrigo Martinez. "We've taken the vertical route, and we're completely chef-driven."
This is apparent in the way Andriola has embraced the departure from processed foods, dairy dependence, and gluten. He's replaced them with organic and grass-fed livestock, local produce that's picked in the morning and delivered in the afternoon from Harpke Family Farm in Hollywood, and swapped heavy cream and milk for cashews and coconuts.
That's not to say all the items are delicate finger foods and hippie snacks. Bigger plates such as the soba noodle hot pot ($23) includes chicken, shellfish, snow peas, snoki mushrooms, and a poached brown egg; Thai black cod ($35) delivers tender fish with baby bok choy and shishito peppers. Then there's all-natural rotisserie chicken in half ($17) and full ($30) orders, prepared kosher, Mediterranean, Hawaiian, or Peruvian style.
But the small plates are the stars.
Shareable and inventive, the spicy salmon nori wrap ($14) is stuffed with red quinoa (instead of rice), avocado, daikon, carrot, and pea tendrils and accompanied by a restorative Fresno chili dipping sauce.
Then there's the sprouted falafel bites ($6). Where normal falafel leans toward oily, these are devoid of grease, perfectly crunchy on the outside, soft and crumbly on the inside. Instead of the customary tzatziki, this version is made with cashews, mint, dill, and cucumber.
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The ingredients in Basil Park's menu reflect a commitment to quality and the values of the food revolution: fresh, local, sustainable, seasonal. Even partaking of the hallucinatory raw chocolate pâté ($8) will make you feel like you're treating your body right. Raw cacao and almonds deliver richness, while homemade raspberry, blackberry, and blueberry sorbet snap the palate with tartness.
Perhaps we're entering a golden age of health food. Eating to live, yes, but enjoying every bite.