Los Angeles, city of Angels, as people refer to it, doesn’t give you that feeling at the outset. In fact, stepping back, it’s not even one city. Much like the ‘bay area’ it’s a conglomeration of a bunch of towns tied together with the name – LA. Ask Craigslist and they will tell you how difficult it is to differentiate areas. It’s one of the most diverse areas in the country!
Anyway, I am here neither to sing praises nor throw brickbats at the city. My experiences thus far have not been too memorable, until I began spending time in some of the satellite towns. You just need to look beyond the local LA area and a sense of calmness creeps in. And, what better way to experience this than at a restaurant!
Redondo Beach might look like any regular busy beach town, until you reach the village area. Snuck away in a corner was this restaurant titled “The Green Temple” (http://www.greentemple.net/index.php). It was a small split mall and we did not even notice them initially. However, as we parked the car, my sister noticed the restaurant primarily due to the ‘Vegetarian’ tag under the title. We immediately decided to check it out. The entrance itself is low-key yet, extremely inviting – what with rose petals (from their garden) AND grape plant creepers adorning it (Steve hopes to have his Champagne one day!).
Steve seats us in a nice open location with a lot of sunlight and no electric light source of any kind near us. Tall and lanky, Steve is a British born LA resident who is very soft spoken and radiates calm and peace. Co-owning the place with his wife, they bring warmth and a personal touch to the restaurant unlike any I have seen before.
The restaurant is very artfully decorated; yet, everything is very subtle. Lack of ownership of the building did not deter them from bringing their personal touch and a sense of ownership in every aspect of it. The tables, cushions on them resonate the mindset of the owners. One begins to smile as soon as they are seated. I will let the pictures do the talking here –
Environmental consciousness shines through in everything; right from the location of the tables
to the recycled tissue papers present.
Now, coming to the food; it was on par with their Sustainable thought process – nay it is beyond it! For starters, they have more than 85% of their ingredients organic and local. The remaining 15% are bought organic from stores which are Sustainable and/or environmentally conscious. They do not have any processed foods. They make their own sauces and bake their bread. The freshly squeezed
juices are just that. And as a step further, they even make their iced teas themselves. And just in case one doesn’t realize, these are primarily seasonal fruits/vegetables – most of them purchased at the local farmer’s market. Again, the most endearing aspect is the care they have taken to explain and put this all up on the menu card. And, when I pressed on with a few questions, Steve was very patient and went into details to expound on every aspect of their food preparation. The pride in their work coupled with humility makes you want to talk to him more.
Needless to say, the food was very tasty and you finish your plate not just satiated in the
stomach, but, satiated in the mind. For, we indeed had a smile as we cleaned-up our plates.
Stomach full; I went about explaining what 500Gallons does to Steve. He was quite interested and asked about our motive and modus. Without mincing words, he mentioned the challenge any typical restaurant will face – rising pressure of investors on profits versus social responsibility to to being Sustainable. Needless to say, financial pressures take priority. And that’s where Green Temple stands apart. Here is a restaurant – owned by the people who work there and has grown organically, with increase in customer needs and income rise – not because of their greedy desire.
What a parting shot – I thought. And just as we were discussing what else a restaurant can do; Steve had another gem – ‘the industry is fundamentally unsustainable’. People need to cook at home more often
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– and that’s the most sustainable way to live as far as food is concerned.
To prove his seriousness on that statement; he says he is more than happy to spread their recipes and ideology. Of course; how other restaurateurs
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will take it is anyone’s guess!
Do visit this beautiful restaurant for it’s a unique and personal experience which will leave you happy and thoughtful or, with happy thoughts!
Until next time – Sriram