Stepping into by CHLOE, the newest vegan restaurant in the very vegan Silver Lake neighborhood of Los Angeles, feels very similar to the new 365 by Whole Foods Market it’s adjoined to—it’s both the past and the future at the same time.
The brainchild of “Cupcake Wars” winning vegan chef Chloe Coscarelli, 28, and creative director Samantha Wasser, by CHLOE is changing the perception of vegan food for longtime vegans, and meat-eaters alike.
The restaurant’s small but abundant menu is filled with familiar favorites: burgers, fries, Caesar salad, meatball subs, mac ‘n’ cheese, and, of course, cupcakes. But as familiar as the offerings sound, they’re all fashioned by Coscarelli from plant-based ingredients. Burgers are made from lentils and walnuts, or black beans and sweet potatoes, a barbecue sandwich features mushrooms and seitan, the wheat-gluten protein, instead of pork. And for the vegetable leery meat-eater, they’re worthy, toothsome knock-offs.
A vegan for more than a decade, the soft-spoken Coscarelli said she was inspired to create the menu for the restaurant’s original New York location (there are two more in the works for New York and one coming to Boston) to satisfy her own love of classic comfort foods. The fast-casual restaurant atmosphere is part old-timey-diner, part modern ambience, mirroring the menu’s throwback items made with forward-thinking ingredients. Much in the same way Chipotle has successfully positioned clean ingredients with its simple and affordable menu, by CHLOE is reimagining vegan food, even if kale and quinoa are on the menu.
“Everything is made from scratch,” Coscarelli tells me about the menu. Even the burger buns are made (at another location) using a recipe she created. The cheese in the mac ‘n’ cheese is an original recipe, not a prepackaged vegan cheese product. And while meaty-tasting high-tech vegan burgers are all the rage right now, Coscarelli’s pared down nuts and bean burger patties don’t disappoint.
Neither does her deep pink beet ketchup (yes, that’s made from scratch, too), the surprising stunner of the meal. “Pink is my favorite color,” Coscarelli said of the ketchup, which uses beets instead of tomatoes. It’s incredibly flavorful and nearly indistinguishable from the standard American ketchup (which is also loaded with corn syrup). Only the gorgeous color gives it away. Dipping air-baked bright orange sweet potato fries into the magenta pink ketchup definitely feels futuristic, even if it tastes like something most of us have eaten a thousand times.
As one of the “Friends of 365” partners of the new Whole Foods concept store, the mission seems simple for by CHLOE: to give customers an option for clean, delicious, and healthy foods, both fast and inexpensively.
The by CHLOE concept seems to resonate with Millennials, Coscarelli's peers and target audience, who packed the restaurant last Thursday afternoon. Seated just across from me were Doug and Maxie, co-founders of Blöde Kuh, a local cashew-based vegan cheese and yogurt brand. Their eyes were wide, their words were few as they savored every bite, “It’s so good,” Moxie told me of the Guac Burger. “We will definitely be back,” Doug says, “it’s pretty incredible.”
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images courtesy of by CHLOE