Over It Yet? Roasted CauliflowerBy Lesley Balla
March 12, 2014
Over it Yet? is a new Zagat series about the trendiest of trendy menu items out there. Take tuna tartare: a dish that was actually created at Chaya Brasserie in the 80s but spread like wildfire across the country and now warrants eye rolls for its redundancy on menus. Here now, we look at white hot cauliflower and attempt to decide if enough is enough.
No matter how many seasonal changes we see on menus around Los Angeles, one thing remains true: cauliflower is not going to be hard to find around here any time soon. Don't get us wrong - we love the vegetable, whether white, green or purple, roasted, grilled, pickled, pureed or steamed. It's relatively inexpensive, abundant and one of the healthiest vegetables out there - light on carbs and high in fiber - which goes along with the cliche "California light cuisine."
But we wonder if it's almost at a tipping point. Wood & Vine's new chef, Marc Johnson, recently changed the entire menu at the Hollywood restaurant and included his version with peanuts, salsa verde and lovage. At Bruce Kalman's new Pasadena restaurant Union, he's serving multi-colored cauliflower on a long wooden plank with agro dolce, capers, golden raisins, candied garlic and thyme. One of the few vegetable dishes you'll find at meat emporium Chi Spacca is cauliflower with crushed lemon bagna cauda. At Superba Snack Bar, Jason Neroni cuts the cauliflower like a slab of meat and grills it; he even calls it a T-bone. Chefs at the new vegan Mexican spot Gracias Madre pan-friy florets and drizzle them with cashew nut 'cheese'. Josef Centeno has versions at both Baco Mercat and Bar Ama. And any restaurant with a wood-burning oven, like Gejlina, gives it a good char. It's fair to say, no restaurant worth its sea salt will dare not have some version of this vegetable on its menu.
No matter the spin, cauliflower is still cauliflower. Maybe it's time to push another vegetable into the spotlight, like, say, broccoli. Are you over it yet?