My dining to-do list in LA is long...really long. For every restaurant I attempt to cross off of my list, I add at least three more - a vicious yet delightfully delicious cycle. However, this past Monday, I was able to cross off a long-time lingerer on my list of intriguing LA eateries, and faster than you can say "YUM!", this charming little European bistro sits near the top of my (other) list of favorite joints for tasty, fresh lunchtime fare for a reasonable price.
Although I still can't quite figure out how I am supposed to pronounce its name, FOOD+LAB is a scientifically-proven success for incredibly scrumptious, Austro-French bistro bites that feature fresh, local ingredients and a truly incredible combination of succulent ingredients in every item it serves. For lunch, we ordered the Roasted Vegetable Salad with Pesto, Fresh Goat Cheese, Baby Tomatoes and Baby Spring Greens, as well as the Turkey Sandwich with Brie, Pear, Fig Compote, and Honey on Wheat BREADBAR Bread (A side note: as you may recall, BREADBAR is my favorite LA hotspot for the absolute tastiest artisanal bread; this fact alone already makes FOOD+LAB a winner in my book!). The amazing charred texture of the roasted veggies was breathtaking; each vegetable remained completely flavorful and soft despite its being thoroughly grilled (Anyone who knows me well, knows that I like my food with grill marks...dark grill marks). Combined with the tangy creaminess of the generous clumps of goat cheese, the garlic-infused freshness of the vibrant green pesto, the crispness of the marble-sized tomatoes, and the tenderness of the baby lettuces, this salad was both visually stunning and satiating to the point that I never wanted to eat anything else ever again...that is...until we moved on to the warm, sweet-smelling sandwich also sitting before us. The simplicity of this perfectly sweet sandwich combined with the succulent richness of the pure and fresh fillings made this lightly toasted stack the perfect delicacy to follow the garden-fresh salad we had just consumed. The slight saltiness of the soft oven-roasted turkey made it the ideal candidate to nestle between layers of translucent, warmed pear slices, creamy French brie, aromatic local honey, and grainy, molasses-like fig compote, and the two perfectly-proportioned sliced of toasted buckwheat bread lovingly cradled each component, giving the sandwich an earthy taste without overpowering the natural sweetness of this artful creation. All I can say now is...I'm really craving FOOD+LAB again...
Aside from the incredible edible offerings, which also include breakfast items like European-inspired muesli with cream and berries, artisanal soups and side salads, and take-away items such as the house-made salad dressings and juices, the charm at FOOD+LAB stems from its soul-warming ambiance, situated right in the heart of the dining haven that is West Hollywood. Walk past the humble scattering of iron patio chairs and tables on the small sidewalk space, and enter into a Euro-style deli where delicacies await you on the glass counter, and where you can see the delightful creation you chose from the chalked-up blackboard menu be made before you as you wait in anticipation. Grab a seat on the picturesque back patio, where the high walls are consumed by eagerly-climbing greenery and where each table greets you with a beaming sunflower and a cozy spot to chat with a friend, loved one or client. Another perk: the fare-free parking lot sits on the other side of the towering walls of the patio...cha-ching!
In my honest and humble opinion, FOOD+LAB is unarguably one of the best eateries in LA to find quick, delicious, healthy and well-priced bites, and to enjoy those munchies in an environment that makes you forget that you live in one of the most fast-paced, busiest cities in the world. Looks like I'll be stopping by there on my way back from work tonight. There's a quiet corner of the sunny outdoor patio and a Chicken and Arugula Salad with Edamame, Candied Pecans and Cranberries that are calling my name - it looked incredible as a fellow diner dug into it at the table next to me...
FOOD+LAB Cafe & Marketplace
7253 Santa Monica Blvd. West Hollywood, CA 90046
Open daily from 8am - 8pm
P.S. FOOD+LAB does catering, too...double YUM!