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Madeleine Bistro, the Valley's Premier Vegan Spot, Satisfies Even Meat Lovers

Tarzana restaurant's unique organic cuisine aims to please every palate.

Madeleine Bistro in Tarzana is one vegetarian restaurant where meat eaters should not fear to tread.

Husband-and-wife team David and Molly Anderson opened the restaurant in 2005 after David completed a lengthy stint as chef at the Inn of the Seventh Ray in Topanga Canyon. David, with more than 10 years of restaurant experience in a variety of casual dining restaurants, and Molly are both vegans, and decided to be more health-conscious by opening Madeleine Bistro without the usual processed food found elsewhere. Molly has extensive experience in the restaurant business, too, most notably as the manager at Real Food Daily.

The ambience at the eatery, open Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays only, is intimate and romantic, where diners will enjoy the culinary tricks that turn grains into entrees that mimic their meaty counterparts.

The Andersons have crafted a number of succulent dishes that will satisfy both the tree huggers and the steadfast carnivores among us. To chef Dave’s credit, he changes and adds dishes throughout the year to keep the menu fresh. He also likes to study and keep up on current trends.

I decided to check out one of the entrees myself, and decided on the grilled shiitake mushrooms. My taste buds dived face-first into the delicious meal. The dish includes polenta, composed of corn grit, and is served with haricots verts, a fancy name for French green beans. A layer of smoked paprika creme complemented the dish perfectly.

“We live in the Valley,” said Molly. “Locating the restaurant in Tarzana came about by accident, but it is turning out to be a good neighborhood for what we do, now that Whole Foods opened across the street.”

With four vegan children between the ages of 4 and 24, the Andersons like to push the envelope of what a vegan restaurant can be, said David.

“Our philosophy is to offer the best product possible,” he said. “We consider our product to be the entire dining experience, from the food to the service to the decor and ambience."

Meat eaters have also noted that they were pleasantly surprised to find the dishes more than just edible; actually delectable.

“The ultimate compliment was having a diner eat a multi-course meal and not realize it was vegan until she was offered soy milk with her after-dinner coffee,” Molly said.

Madeleine Bistro is considered among the best in the country. It was chosen the best vegetarian restaurant in Los Angeles by TV's KCAL and one of the top eight vegetarian restaurants in the U.S. by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. David has been selected “Chef of the Year” by VegNews magazine.

The restaurant, which serves beer and wine, also offers a weekly Bistro Box, available for pickup or delivery on Mondays, and contains enough food to feed one person for five to seven days.

Madeleine Bistro, 18621 Ventura Blvd., Tarzana; open Friday-Saturday from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.; Sunday (brunch) from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and (dinner) from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Catering is also offered. Phone: 818-758-6971. Website: madeleinebistro.com.

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