As I am sure everybody is aware, The Golden Mean is a recondite mathematical formula that has its origins in ancient Greece and is known to have some curious metaphysical connotations. It is also revered as a magical “root”amongst those with a deep interest in such matters (you didn’t know that?). What I am sure that few people know is that for the past couple of weeks Golden Mean has also been the nomenclature of a new and vibrant café on Wilshire Boulevard, that specializes in pure vegan cuisine.This past Sunday I paid an afternoon visit to Golden Mean Café to sample it’s culinary wares, and seek a moment of serenity on Wilshire Boulevard. What! A moment of serenity on a busy Santa Monica vehicular thoroughfare on the hottest day of the year so far? That was my thought, until I reminded myself that true tranquility comes from within, and it was the fresh vegan fare served by Golden Mean that I intended to utilize in order to reach that inner peace.The location may well be familiar to many a Santa Monica diner because for many a moon it was the site of the well loved Anastasia’s Asylum, an entertaining coffee house that served predominantly vegetarian cuisine and human performances. This space has now been transformed under the eye of Golden Mean’s proprietor and visionary Aaron Glassman, and with 18 years of restaurant experience behind him he certainly has the credentials to launch such a timely project.The Golden Mean Café’s interior is a simple example of minimalist environmental awareness, with walls of natural clay plaster that has been infused with crushed quartz crystal, selenite, mica, gold and incense, whilst the furniture is all natural wood and the plates are bamboo. The walls are also adorned with crystals for sale and upstairs there is a small chill-out room where patrons can sip coffee and purchase a book or two from the selection of metaphysical and spiritual volumes offered.The menu is sufficient to cover all the desired options from a snack, main course or sweet, and includes dishes such as Golden Corn Chowder and Black Bean Soup with vegan crème fraiche ($4.95), Golden Mean Salad (baby arugula, spring mix, edible flowers, baby beets, candied walnuts and golden lemon shallot dressing, $10.50), Lean Mean Veggie Burger (bean grain and veggie patty with lettuce, tomatoes, pickles and special sauce, on a burger bun, $10.75), and a Vegan “Chicken” Pesto Panini (grilled vegan “chicken breast,” pesto, tomato, roasted red peppers and baby spinach on ciabatta roll, $11.50).I opted to taste the latter of these dishes along with a delightfully presented choice of one of the daily options of vegan pizza, an Olive Spinach Pizza served on a Cornmeal Crust with Vegan Mozzarella and Cocktail Tomatoes ($10.95, including a side salad of your choice).Now, let me make one thing clear from the start, although the portions are balanced, I over-ordered for sure. The pizza, along with my choice of Kelp Noodle Salad, with scallions and red peppers and dressed with a subtle sweet and spicy chili agave dressing would have sufficed. Vegan food of this quality, with ingredients this fresh are more than satisfying, being filling but joyously without any sense of heaviness that a regular plate tends to burden the system with.I cannot praise the pizza enough. Olives and spinach always make a wonderful pairing, and served on a robust cornmeal pizza, complimented by the cheese and tomatoes, and delightfully escorted by the intensely fresh and light kelp salad, made for a delicious excursion into the realm of vegan dining that is so often denigrated by unskilled design, and less than perfect ingredients. Aaron Glassman has displayed quite a degree of wisdom in tapping into the undisputed talents of head chef, Britt Hawley, famed locally for her respected work at Real Food Daily’s duo of locations, and who has evidently expanded upon her natural culinary alchemy with these stimulating recipes.The “Chicken” Pesto Panini was a deceptive device. Yes, it is vegan, yes, it is fresh, and yes, it is healthy. But, I suspect that many a meat eater will consider the “chicken” (a soy constitute blend) to be real chicken as it looks like chicken, it tastes like chicken and feels like chicken (if it looks like a duck, it’s probably a carrot?). Again, fresh and tasty, but light and healthy, for sure.To round off the proceedings I took the advice of my delightful server, Julie, and ordered a Chocolate Mint Coconut Milk Milkshake. One word…heaven! Without the guilt.I really did have a wonderful taste at Golden Mean Café…as for the serenity; I’m working on it!1028 Wilshire Blvd310.393.6500.
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