There was a vegan Meet-Up yesterday at Madeleine Bistro, a wonderful gourmet vegan restaurant in the San Fernando Valley. Chef and co-owner David Anderson fashions his cuisine according to traditional French culinary arts, which he studied at the Johnson & Wales University College of Culinary Arts. The chef and his wife, co-owner and restaurant manager Molly, graced us with a little background on how their dream of Madeleine Bistro came to be. You can read their history on the "About Us" page of their website. (Please be patient with the website, though, as it's currently under a bit of construction.)
I'm a bit of a Madeleine Bistro regular (David and I had a nice conversation yesterday, which started with him asking my name and telling me that he's seen me there often and for years now) and do my best to sample something new every time I dine there. It's not hard to do, as the menu changes frequently due to the chef's use of seasonal ingredients and his inspired creativity (think vegan panna cotta, chocolate souffle, baked Alaska, and those are just some of the desserts he's featured, let alone the appetizers and entrees!). I tend to go for dinner, but I have eaten many a brunch there, too.
Madeleine Bistro is chameleonic in ambiance. For brunch service, the restaurant is bright and cheery, with a lot of light coming in from the floor-to-ceiling windows at the front of the restaurant. Dinner service is candle-lit and romantic, but still suitable for a meal with friends or family. That reminds me, Madeleine Bistro is very family friendly; I've often seen David and Molly's small children in the restaurant and their oldest daughter works there.
Our hosts were kind enough to pass out enough beignets for everyone to sample. I'd eaten these once before, albeit years ago. These dense, fried balls of dough are rolled in a cinnamon sugar coating and served with a cinnamon apple compote. For my taste, they are a little too fried, but that might just be because I don't eat a lot of fried food. Everyone else seemed to enjoy them immensely, so I'll chalk it up to being a problem with me. ;) Actually, you can see how well-liked they were by the fact that I couldn't snap a photo before people started grabbing them off the plate!
For lunch, I ordered the Cajun Caesar Sandwich, a French roll filled with blackened seitan, ranch dressing, lettuce, and tomato (yes, I did eat the raw tomato on my sandwich). I'd ordered this once before a couple years ago and remembered it to be spicy, juicy (as in, spicy sauce dripping down my arm juicy), and delicious. I remembered correctly! I had a choice of potato salad, caesar salad, and home fries on the side. As you can see, I went for the home fries (I'm not a potato salad person and there was already caesar dressing on the sandwich), which had a nicely crisp outside (yay, I got some overdone ones, too!) and soft, yet dense inside. Madeleine Bistro also makes their own ketchup, I believe. I ate half the sandwich for dinner tonight and it held up perfectly after about 6 minutes in my toaster oven at 400 degrees F.
If you've never been to a Meet-Up event in your area, it's worth researching. There was a very interesting mix of people at yesterday's event and I'm going to guess that about 35 people came (including Mademoiselle Foodeater). Honestly, I believe the turn out was a testament to Madeleine Bistro because the last Meet-Up event I attended over the summer brought out only 10-12 people. It could just be that more people were available this time, but Madeleine Bistro is truly a fantastic and unique dining experience. David and Molly are warm and generous hosts and I feel great about giving them business. As David explained, they're a true mom-and-pop business. The only reason you haven't seen photos and entries about it on this blog before is that I hadn't been since I started the blog. There will certainly be more to come.