One of our favorite local walks takes us through the McMansions and more elegant homes north of Montana Avenue to the misnamed Brentwood Country Mart (it’s actually in Santa Monica). Since we have always found the food rewards of this journey to be limited, we were cheered to realize that A Votre Sante, a healthy, veg-friendly (but no longer fully vegetarian) restaurant on our list, happened to be just around the corner in Brentwood proper (13018 San Vicente, near 26th St.). The menu turned out to be a wide-ranging, perhaps too wide-ranging, collection of vegetarian standbys adapted from various cuisines: a burrito, a falafel platter, a vegetable stir-fry, and (straight from the macrobiotic house of horrors) a combination of seaweed, tofu, brown rice, black beans, and tahini. Steering clear of these not-very-promising options (we doubted they could all be done well in the same place), we opted instead for several items on a separate menu whose elegant font promised better fare. We started, then, with two appetizers, a thick, peppery gazpacho, with bits of cucumber and onion for a welcome bite, and a caprese salad featuring juicy, flavorful slices of heirloom tomatoes topped with fresh mozzarella, basil, and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar. We were less pleased with our pizza, perhaps another example of how A Votre Sante tries to do too many things. The bland crust was more like a floppy flatbread than the foundation for a genuine pie, while the San Marzano tomato sauce was a little too sweet and the mozzarella not as thoroughly melted as we would have liked (to be fair, we followed our usual practice of requesting a light touch in the oven to avoid charring around the edges). Overall the meal was serviceable but underwhelming. Deciding therefore to skip the restaurant’s desserts, we headed instead to Sweet Rose Creamery, the Country Mart’s superb little ice cream shop, where we shared a scoop of dense, smooth salt caramel on one of the light, crisp house-made chocolate waffle cones. If dinner in the neighborhood of the Country Mart were as special as the ice cream, we surely would be enjoying that long evening walk more often.
This evening we walked to Pico Boulevard to try a pie at Abbot’s Pizza in Santa Monica (at 18th Street). We had once enjoyed a few delicious slices at a workplace meeting, and we had been tantalized by the sesame-covered “bagel-crust” pizza on Abbot-Kinney in Venice many times. Tonight we thought the Cheeseless Veggie pizza might be a nice way to indulge without feeling gross afterward. Unfortunately, neither the crust nor the vegetables (peppers, black olives, and red onion) had much flavor. In fairness, some cheese would have helped. Dessert, at least, was better. At Foster’s Freeze (at Pico and 16th), we each got a junior dip cone, soft-serve ice cream dunked in molten chocolate. This is an old-school ice cream place cum greasy spoon, highly recommended if you can handle the sight of the oozy burgers on the grill.