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Wake Up LA: Vegan Breakfast at Madeleine Bistro

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Vegan Waffles and 'Chicken' | All Photos by Zach Behrens/LAist

All good things come from the Valley first. Lucky for those who stay "over the hill," Executive Chef David Anderson at LA's fanciest and tastiest vegan affair in the Tarzana Safari Walk (yes, that's an official Los Angeles Neighborhood, city blue sign and all), there is plans to open up a new vegan eatery with full bar on the Westside according to VegNews, who gave his West Valley restaurant a 2007 Veggie Award (Note: VegNews is the real magazine for Vegetarians, not that other mag). But first thing's first; and that's starting your weekend brunch at his restaurant on Ventura Boulevard -- Madeleine Bistro.

Before opening up his own restaurant, the Boston native's first organic job in Los Angeles was as the Sous Chef at Inn of the Seventh Ray in Topanga for a short time (tip: Sunday morning vegetarian buffet!). Next came the big gig as Executive Chef at the over-popular Real Food Daily. "Finding the format too confining, he left" the Westside institution, according to his bio. Before pursuing his dream of opening up his own restaurant, he spent a short time with Playfood, but probably realizing the project was going no where, or too slowly (the restaurant still hasn't opened, but an offshoot Kansas factory is producing excellent vegan cheese for sale in grocery stores), he finally went for for the gold and his Bistro became a rave.

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Dinner at Madeleine Bistro is upscale, a full French two-course dining experience, easily costing a couple a near hundred dollars for a satisfying meal, complete with wine. For lunch, the food is cafe style, 'chicken' sandwiches, a burger and grilled 'cashew' cheese. On the weekends only, Anderson goes to town with a fun brunch menu that you'll need to make reservations for.

For brunch, the restaurant is at its liveliest. Families and friends in groups of four to eight seem to dominate the reservations list with couples scattered about and a few singles enjoying their meal at the small bar. As you wait, you see food delivered to other tables and you begin to salivate as your curiosity focuses on "what the hell will this fake chicken and waffles be like?"

It ended up being pretty damn good. Recommended by many other vegans, the Waffles and 'Chicken' ($12) is the perfect mix of savory and sweet. The Belgian waffles are crisp on the outside, joyously fluffy on the inside. The seitan 'chicken' is light with a fried crisp 'skin,' an amazing mix when eaten with a waffle or mashed potatoes with gravy.

The Omelet ($12) is made out of spinach, cheese, asparagus, 'facon' and shiitake mushrooms and is served with home fries. Even a seasoned meat and egg eater, as we were told by our dining partner, can enjoy this breakfast marvel, except they found the tempeh bacon over powering in flavor, kicking the freshness of the vegetables to a secondary taste. Other breakfast items include wheat-free pancakes ($8), french toast ($11), seven-grain porridge brulee ($7) and a tofu scramble with tempeh bacon ($11).

The Omelet ($12) is made out of spinach, cheese, asparagus and shiitake mushrooms and is served with home fries.

For those who do not want breakfast items, the brunch menu hosts a variety of lunch type items such as the Madeleine Club ($12, photo below: chicken-fried seitan, tempeh bacon, sourdough bread), a cajun caesar sandwich ($11), a vegan big-mac ($11, this will impress meat eaters), salads and one of the most popular dinner items, the Red Beet Tartare ($13).

Beware of their not-so-updated-website as times can change and menus can be slightly outdated. The best way to make sure your plans are solid is to call ahead, make a reservation and join their e-mail list which gives updates on vegan cooking classes (this is why the times can change on weekend mornings) and special menus and announcements (e.g., Valentine's/Mother's Day reservations).

Madeleine Bistro
18621 Ventura Blvd. (West of Reseda Blvd.)
Tarzana, CA 91356

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(818) 758-6971
Parking: Street or in the alley off of Yolanda Ave/go to the end of the alley, park, navy blue door)

The Madeleine Club ($12) is chicken-fried seitan and tempeh bacon on sourdough bread

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