Thursday, July 22, 2010

No. 171: Four Café (Eagle Rock)

Four Café in Eagle Rock is one of the latest L.A. additions in the fast-casual, healthier-eating scene (which includes the likes of Forage in Silver Lake and the mini-chains of Tender Greens & M Café de Chaya, both of which opened new locations this year.) Curious about this joint and armed with a Blackboard Eats offer, Hey Hey Scenester's ConBon and I decided to check this place out following Colorado Wine's tasting (one of my favorite recurring tastings in town, by the way, their Friday ones are $15/person to taste five eccentric wines plus a help-yourself platter to a wide array of cheeses from nearby Auntie Em's.)
Menu Board
The seasonally-driven menu at Four is pretty straightforward and tight, about two dozen selections of soups, sandwiches, plated salads and deli sides/salads, plus an assortment of baked goods and desserts. Nonetheless, there were so many delicious-sounding options we both took a while to decide what we want.
Jerk Tempeh Sandwich & Miso Tofu Salad
I got the jerk tempeh sandwich paired with chopped miso tofu salad ($15); For the sandwich, overall it was a nice mix between vegetables (red onion & arugula), their cashew cheese, avocado slices and jerk marinated tempeh -- all the flavors complementing each other very well (a little umami, a little vegetal "greeness", a little creaminess) though, lover of spices that I am, I think the jerkiness could've been upped a bit without throwing off the flavor profile. Still, a very substantial and hearty sandwich. I'm glad I paired it with the miso tofu chopped salad, which was flavorful from miso vinaigrette but otherwise a very light, clean and refreshing salad with a satisfying crunch from almonds and fresh cabbage and a nice punch of oniony flavors from the crisped shallots and chives.
ConBon w Pork Bun
Whereas I went the full-veggie route, Conbon decided to release her inner-carnivore, ordering the $15 sandwich-salad combo with Southwest steak salad and Hawaiian barbecue pork bun. She found the steak on the salad just a little tough but otherwise loved the combination of crispy jicama, roasted bell peppers, corn freshly sliced off the cob and avocado, in a bright honey-jalapeno-lime dressing (yes, it sounds Bobby Flay-ish, but I snuck a meatless bite and it was tasty!) The downside of such a salad was that it left her very little room for the even more filling pork bun sandwich (I don't think she took more than 3 bites after the initial one photo'd above.) And so, she had to doggy-bag the sandwich, which she also found delicious with moist, tender pork in an oversized sweet 'n eggy Hawaiian roll, -- though that tragically got tossed since she left it in the car the day after and didn't realize until it got car-be-cued in sweltering afternoon heat. But she said it's a sandwich she would order again, if not tempted to try something new on the menu.
Allagash Fluxus 2009
Since Four is currently BYOB, we took advantage of Colorado Wine's eclectic collection of beers and got Allagash's Fluxus 2009, a limited edition farmhouse ale brewed with sweet potato and black pepper. At ~$20 for a 750mL bottle, this is definitely not an everyday beer; the taste definitely screams fun special occasion, all over the map in a festive kind of way, with citrus and spice notes, a delightful little hint of the sweet potatoes and a tinge of hoppiness (it's like having a spicy candied yams in your beer, which is surprisingly good!) And, unexpectedly quaffable for a 8.3% ABV beer.
Mixed Fruit Crisp
And of course, with pastry case how can we resist desserts? I got their mixed berry fruit crisp ($4), which was everything I expected, a slightly-sweet filling well balanced by the bright-tanginess of the fragrant berries, and I liked how its texture is a nice foil to the crunchy crisp without being too mushy or tasting too raw.
Apricot Cobbler
On the other hand, Conbon's apricot cobbler ($3) didn't fare as well -- granted, it was scooped out of an almost-empty casserole tray by the time we ordered it so it may have been sitting out a while, but it tasted a bit too sweet and the cakey topping was unappetizingly soggy. So we made a mentally note to stick to the individually-prepared dessert, or order casseroley baked goods only when it seems fresh outta the oven.

Despite the cobbler, we generally have a positive opinion of Four's dishes, it was fresh and tasty and not too damaging on the wallet. And we definitely love it's mutualistic relationship with Colorado Wine (you can either BYOB from Colorado to Four, or order take-out from Four to nosh on at Colorado!) Either way, I can already see myself returning regularly to enhance my palate with some very fun eats and wines -- and maybe super soon for the debut of their breakfast menu next month.

What Do Others Say?
- Eating L.A. thinks "every neighborhood needs a cafe like . . . Four"
- Let Me Eat Cake finds it "comforting and inviting with food that makes you want to come back again the next day"
- Banana Wonder also notes it as "relaxing and unpretentious" and "can't wait to go back"
- The Minty looks forward to a return, too, finding "the delicious lavender brown butter cookie [tasting like] Ludo's lavender butter"
- Eat L.A. calls it "an instant hit" between the fairly-priced, tasty dishes, kids' menu & BYOB

Additional photos from our Four excursion here

Four Cafe
2122 1/2 Colorado Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA

Four Cafe in Los Angeles on Fooddigger
Four Cafe on Urbanspoon


Anna A. said...

Mmmm great review, I'm ready to go back for the summer menu for the veggie options! (I'll be looking for your breakfast review as I'll be in P-town by then).


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