Wednesday, May 28, 2008

M Cafe de Chaya: If one is good, two must be better

It looks like butter on the side, but it's "soy butter."

The new M Cafe de Chaya in Culver City doesn't even have a sign out front yet, but that doesn't stop gaggles of parents with slick strollers and lunching gal pals from filling every table on a Saturday afternoon. The second outpost of the trendy macrobiotic cafe is far easier to navigate than its cramped Melrose parent, with its nearly non-existent parking and broiling hot sidewalk tables. There's a spacious patio, lots of street parking, and a bar along one wall with plenty of extra stools in addition to the large communal table. I like M Cafe much better than most supposedly healthy places because 1) Most of the food actually has some flavor and 2) There's fish, so I don't get that panicky "what if I don't get enough protein" feeling that vegan restaurants sometimes cause.
It's a bit early for their excellent tuna burger, and I'm feeling virtuous, so I'm ready to spring for a tofu scramble with tempeh bacon and sweet potato hash. But they're somehow out of scramble, so I try the cranberry walnut French toast with maple syrup and cranberry compote. I'm not sure how they make it since there's no eggs involved, but it's a tasty, hearty brunch dish with the tangy cranberries on the side adding a nice counterpoint to the syrup, even though I could swear they're raisins. It's a little odd that although you can get a double espresso, you can't get any black tea like Earl Grey or Darjeeling, so I get a strong cup of green tea served with cunning little packets of maple crystals. The only problem with the Culver City location is that you're probably less likely to spot Jake Gyllenhaal or Sarah Silverman than at the Melrose one. Or that could be an advantage for some people, I guess.

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