It’s nice to see the trend in health-conscious, casual dining options that’s emerging in Los Angeles these days. Taking their leads from the Tender Greens and the Veggie Grills of this recent movement, Lyfe Kitchen and Bru’s Counter are two recent places that appear to have what it takes to keep people coming back with their quality menus and mid-range prices.
Brought to us by executive chef/southern cuisine expert Art Smith (a Top Chef Masters alumni and former personal chef to Oprah Winfrey), Lyfe Kitchen offers very tasty food “that’s also good for you” says its web site. The restaurant promotes sustainability, supports local farms and claims to serve organic food whenever commercially viable. At the Culver City location, my grass-fed burger on an oatmeal bun with cheddar, red onion, lettuce, tomato and a farmhouse pickle was tres “umami” and Irene loved her Roasted Brussels & Squash with dried cranberries and a Dijon vinaigrette. There are five different “Menu Attribute Badges,” including Everything, Vegetarian/Vegan, Gluten Free, Seasonal Items and Wine & Beer. Among the child’s menu items are Art’s Unfried Chicken strips and a fish taco, and are served with a choice of baked sweet potato fries or fresh fruit. We took a table on the outdoor patio; inside there are communal seating clusters and a self-serve water tap.
Located on Santa Monica Boulevard just a few steps down the street from Westfield Century City, Bru’s Counter was equally good. After placing our order, the family parked itself at a high-top for five and the kiddies retrieved some ice water from a chilled tank (apparently these healthier-leaning places have an affinity for self-serve water taps!). I was tempted by the chicken & waffle sandwich sample that was on display just off the open kitchen but opted for the Banh Mi – a popular Vietnamese sandwich made with chicken, a fried egg, chipotle mayo, carrots and daikon (jalapenos on the side, thank you!). Like Lyfe Kitchen, there are also grass fed burgers, vegetarian plates, “Greens,” and “Crispy Chicken” as well as six different types of fries; we chose the sweet potato variety but want to go back to try the truffle or avocado fries.
Yep, we will happily take another seat at any of these kitchens or counters!