Los Angeles is known for championing farm-to-table dining, having an inventive approach to cuisine and for prioritising healthy living. But although we now expect all of these things, and then some, from California restaurants, I was blown away on a recent visit to Forage, a laid-back Silver Lake spot. Not only is its focus on sustainable food, much of its ingredients are sourced from its neighbours and surrounding farms and ranches.
Despite being housed in a sparse, angular, white building, Forage has an enrichingly warm sense of community. It regularly features a “Harvest Call”, where locals bring everything from extra garden peas or tangelos to asparagus, and if the produce is up to snuff, chef-owner Jason Kim (formerly of LA hotspots L’Orangerie and Lucques) will buy the whole lot to incorporate into that week’s menus. The restaurant has a casual, modern feel and is a vibrant local hub. One taste of the baked delicacies on offer at lunch or dinner and you’ll see why.
For a midday meal at Forage, pick-and-mix the tantalising chalkboard specials (second picture) with the robust, colourful salads and substantial, succulent sandwiches (third picture) from the standard menu. On a recent visit to this light-filled gem (I highly recommend dining on the patio) our group sampled just about everything including the daily feature – chicken enchiladas with salsa roja, avocado, crema Mexicana and radish ($7.50) – as well as sizeable sandwiches filled with scrumptious pork belly. Other standouts included a hearty, roasted-salmon bowl with brown rice, pickled scarlet turnips and garlic kale ($13.50), mouthwatering fattoush and cavolo nero and rocket salads with feta and breadcrumbs, and sides of creamy mac and cheese ($4-$16 each; or three small sides, $11.50).
The decadent desserts look, at first, too pretty to eat. But not to indulge would be a travesty. From the simple-yet-sublime chocolate-chip cookies ($1.75) and vanilla pistachio macaroons ($2.25) to slices of peanut-butter ganache tart with fleur de sel ($5)and exquisitely beautiful fruit tatins and tarts (first picture, $5), each mouthful is better than the last.
I loved everything about Forage from start to finish – the minimalist, bright setting, the cheerful staff, the simple but sumptuous food and, above all else, the story behind this happy, community effort. Although reservations can’t be taken and queues at peak times can be daunting, rest assured that the spoils will definitely be worth the wait.