By David Kopp / @davidbkopp –
Book signing or Yom Kippur services, what do you do? This was a choice my friend faced. Mind you this wasn’t just any book signing, it was Chloe Coscarelli, vegan chef and winner of cupcake wars who won with–no joke–vegan cupcakes. Chloe is a witch basically. As a vegan and loyal student of her cooking, my friend opted for the book signing. Not even Jewish guilt could keep her away from Chloe. And while I, as an orthodox-ish Jew, probably wouldn’t have made the same decision, frankly now I can say I get it.
Chloe opened her first restaurant By Chloe in West Village, NYC. I promised my friend I’d try it out on my next trip.
Yeah. I’d ‘try it out’ alright. On my first trip I ordered five different items (I couldn’t just report back on one dish) and they were all insane. I had to keep reminding myself that everything was vegan. It was a simple, awesome menu of things that sounded and tasted both familiar and appealing, local and foreign. I don’t know much about food but it seemed to be all comfort food. Sure the mac-and-cheese didn’t taste as cheesified as dairy mac, but it had shitake bacon on it for God’s sake. Shitake bacon!
I went back six times, yes with friends but mostly just by myself. Leaving NYC is always hard for me, By Chloe made it a lot worse. I packed food to take on the plane and share with my friend upon my return.
Which is why my heart supernovaed when my friend informed me that she’d be opening a By Chloe in Silverlake, about a 20 minutes drive from where we lived in Pasadena. The rest of the story is pretty straightforward: we got 6 people together, showed up the day after it opened (to avoid the crowds); walked in, stepped up to the counter and said ‘We’ll take one of everything.’ The cashier wasn’t sure he heard right ‘That’s right, one of everything.’
We set up all the food along the thin bar and walked around tasting each of the different dishes. Sweet potato fries and beet ketchup, whiskey bbq burger, pesto meatball sandwich, mac-and-cheese with shitake bacon. Shitake bacon! Salads. Cookies and cupcakes. Insanely overpriced juice cocktails. (Liquor license coming soon.) Speaking of price, it’s totally reasonable. Our extravagant One Of Everything tab came to $30 a head and there were leftovers––pretty good for a full meal at a nice kosher joint.
Well, almost kosher joint. They’re still finalizing details for certification, but it seems imminent. (And anyway, even by relatively strict halachic standards, a kosher-keeping Jew can reliably eat plenty at most any vegan restaurant without a certification, though religious ignoramuses will insist otherwise.) Oh yeah, and the staff was super genuine and friendly. Like, suspiciously genuine and friendly.
I’m not sure if I’m just excited to have a new quasi-local place to eat a normal kosher meal, or if the food is really as great as I’m hyping it up to be. Whatever. It’s going to be a regular spot for me, even if I have to fight the post-hipster Silverlake millennial monks for a parking space in the overcrowded 365 Whole Foods parking lot. It’s all worth it. Maybe not ‘miss Yom Kippur’ worth it, but then I’ve never had access to a By Chloe on Yom Kippur so we’ll just have to see.