Vita Cohorts: Los Angeles’ Eveleigh

| August 21, 2014

_eveleigh-restaraunt-sunset-los-angeles-035

When learning that we would be visiting the restaurant Eveleigh on Los Angeles’ Sunset strip, my first instinct was to think of the word “trendy.”

Maybe it was just the first-timer in me that engrained the perception into my mind, but Sunset Boulevard is a staple of the city’s nightlife, and I figured Eveleigh would match that personality.

Walking up to the restaurant, it was clear that this wasn’t your average, run-of-the-mill chic spot, instead relying on family-like relationships and personal communication that appeals to its guests.

With both a shaded front porch and a massive back deck, Eveleigh has a stunning, open atmosphere.

Rustic metal accents, solid wood tables, creative art and a fully stocked bar fill the entire restaurant, making it as beautiful as the smell of the food cooking in the kitchen.

The staff is as friendly as can be, putting aside any notion of entitlement, a common theme among other L.A. restaurants, with a number of different employees introducing themselves and offering suggestions based on our likes and dislikes.

As we introduced ourselves to General Manger Jeremy Adler, it became clear where the backbone of the entire operation comes from, as Jeremy talked about how Eveleigh gets its fresh ingredients, changes its menu daily—which, alone, makes it unique—and what the future holds for the restaurant that is just shy of its fourth anniversary.

_eveleigh-restaraunt-sunset-los-angeles-017

First things first, how did you make the decision to go with Caffe Vita in your restaurants?

“I think we just tasted a bunch of different kinds of coffee, and we really just liked the flavor profile.”

Are you currently, or plan to use, Vita coffee in any dishes or drinks?

“We haven’t, but we’re not opposed to the idea. I feel like, coffee in dessert makes sense, sometimes coffee in meats makes sense, but it’s a little gimmicky at times, and we try to stay away from that and use our natural ingredients; that’s our approach.”

Prior to Eveleigh, you were in New York City at En Japanese Brasserie, what made you head out west?

“A headhunter actually found me. I know, very undramatic. A friend of mine’s a chef, and he worked with this particular headhunter and they contacted me. I was very reticent in moving from New York to L.A. because it’s a very different vibe in terms of restaurants and culture. In addition to that, preconceived notions of this area are divergent from who and what we are. Still, I met the guys in New York, we got along really well and I’ve been here for almost three years.”

You mentioned the location; do you guys get a lot of celebrities in the restaurant?

“You know, every restaurant in L.A. gets a lot of celebrities. Like Seattle is the nexus of coffee, Los Angeles is the nexus of entertainment, and with so many people living here and going out, that’s just part of it. You know what I get excited about? Regular guests.

_eveleigh-restaraunt-sunset-los-angeles-002

I was just going to ask you that. Do you have the regulars that come in all the time?

“Absolutely. That’s the foundation of any restaurant. We are trying to show such a good time, that people have no choice but to come back. We want to manufacture and cultivate regulars. We want to create an environment where people feel comfortable and enjoy themselves and they can have a relationship with the people who work here. The food, drinks and coffee that we serve create a sense of community.”

Building a community. How important is that, and does it come more from word of mouth or marketing?

“I really don’t believe in marketing. We do PR. We do social media. Word of mouth is so important. There’s a farmer’s market across the street, on Thursday’s, and we’re going to try and sell some of our bread and butter that we make in house—not because we need the money, but because it’s a nice way to remind people that we’re baking bread everyday and you can have fresh bread at three o’clock that was baked just a couple hours ago, which a lot of restaurants around here aren’t doing. We make our own butter from heavy cream each day, too.”

Can you talk about the farmer’s market a little bit, and how you work with them?

“For a long time, we were the only restaurant that was buying vegetables from them, so most of the farmers stopped coming. One of the farmers that we work with, Sabrina from Shear Rock Farms, has a seven-acre farm in Santa Rosa, and we buy about half of what she grows. That’s a pride inducing statement, and I’m really stoked about that. I’m really happy about that and is one thing that I’ll show-off about.”

_eveleigh-restaraunt-sunset-los-angeles-066

Do you have any stipulations on how far you will, or won’t, go for your ingredients?

“It’s really not too discrete. Food is not a black or white situation, there’s always a shade of gray and there’s some give and take. Our chef really likes to use grass-fed beef, which begs the question if it’s better to use corn-fed beef from California or do you go elsewhere because there’s a drought going on here, so obviously grass-fed beef is very limited, it has become expensive, and the quality isn’t all that good because there’s not that much grass. So, do you eat the beef from California with limited distance from your restaurant, or do you pursue other locations a little bit further away, but are more specific to what resembles your philosophy on food and how to raise cattle? We’ve chosen to go with the latter, so we do get some beef from a little bit further away, which we think is more delicious. If there’s product that’s 199 miles away and it’s good, but there’s something that’s 201 miles away and it’s f–ing delicious, we’ll go the extra couple miles to break any restriction.”

Can you talk about where chef Jared Levy gets the inspiration for his different menus?

“I think products speak to him, he doesn’t speak to the products. Jared goes to the farmer’s market and gets inspired and goes to the garden in our restaurant to get inspired, and we work with a couple different farmers who come and bring ingredients here, and he’s really been into edible weeds lately because it’s fun to use on dishes.”

OK, I’m sitting down for the first time at Eveleigh, what’s the recommended dish I order?

“Well because the menu changes everyday, it’s a difficult question to answer. The dish that’s on the menu that probably won’t go away is the lamb meatballs. We sell a lot of them. It’s house ground lamb, we make a breadcrumb salsa with some capers and lamb chopper Gouda cheese on top, so it’s a classic dish. On another level, last Thursday, we got a whole, baby lamb. They butchered it Friday morning and on Friday night we had nine different cuts that were sold in different ways. The roasted leg, the braised neck or shoulder, all the different chops, the ribs. You know, there were nine different cuts that you could buy from one animal on Friday. That animal was delivered on Thursday and by Friday night we were out of the whole animal, and we had guests who were clamoring to sit down (that night) because they knew we were going to run out of lamb. There aren’t a lot of restaurants in L.A. that do that and because we change the menu each day, you have to have the volume of people to come in each day to eat all that product, and then it’s also not an inexpensive dish, so people have to feel like it’s worth it. It’s awesome, man. I think doing something like that is just so special.”

_eveleigh-restaraunt-sunset-los-angeles-075

I’m a vegetarian, so can you talk about what you offer for those who don’t eat meat?

“I’d say about 30 percent of our menu is vegetarian. The menu is broken into three columns, garden, sea and land, and the garden stuff has meat in it, but we can normally remove those items. It seems that everyone in L.A. is vegan, or gluten free, they all have something, and we’re not going to change L.A., so we’re adapting, being flexible and dynamic. We’re true to the creativity of the chef, but we’ll never sell something if we don’t believe in it and it’s not delicious.”

If there’s one thing that you’re most proud of about Eveleigh, what would it be?

“If you looked at Sunset Boulevard four years ago, you would see the Sysco truck pull up to all of these other restaurants and have individual packets of chicken would come out of the truck in their box, and eventually go onto the grill and into the deep-fryer. Those restaurants are busy, full and successful. That’s great. There’s a lot of complexity involved in running a restaurant on a philosophical way that you think is correct. And while it’s a challenge and can be a pain in the ass, at times, I wouldn’t be working here if we used those individually wrapped packs of chicken breast. I think we’re most proud of being a leader in helping those other restaurants mimic some of our philosophies, because it’s a testament to our process. Another thing are the relationships that I’ve built with guests and other people in the industry because of what we do here.”

_eveleigh-restaraunt-sunset-los-angeles-053

Can you talk about the culture at Eveleigh a little bit?

“We’re trying to change the preconceived notions that people have of this place. When people think of Sunset Boulevard, they think of plastic, Ferrari’s, neon lights, that the food doesn’t matter. We try to have the valet’s park all the Prius’ and Honda’s out front, instead of all the Corvette’s, Ferrari’s and Lamborghini’s. We’re not flashy. We just try to create a sense of hospitality and warmth.”

What does the future hold for the restaurant?

“(Laughing) I think that this place always feels like it’s just on the wheels and ready to tilt away, you know what I mean? Just printing a new menu every day is, in and of itself, a long process. You’re always worried that people won’t come back tomorrow, or that they don’t like you, or understand what you’re doing. That’s plenty to think about, so we’ll worry about today, and think about tomorrow when it comes. Good things will happen if you continue to take care of people.”

 

Featured Product of the Week: Ladies Racer Tank

| August 20, 2014

IMG_5408

The sun is still out and the warm weather seems to be sticking around.

So, ladies, why cover up your arms with a shirt that has sleeves on it?

You shouldn’t have to, which is why Caffe Vita thinks that all of our female fans should scoop up our Ladies Racer Tank to wear while the sun is still shining down on us.

Made from 100% cotton to help keep you cool, it’s the perfect compliment to wear underneath a shirt, or, as we suggest, all on its own.

The only thing anyone will have to remember doing while wearing this is to layer up on sunscreen, because the rest of your outfit will be complete when rocking the Racer Tank around town, on the beach or to lounge in at home.

Buy the tank in our Online Shop.

What We’re Diggin’ on August 19th

| August 19, 2014

tumblr_mctalko

It’s the time of year when kids start thinking about going back to school and the weather starts to get a little bit cooler.

A comfortable t-shirt, some jeans and a warm cup of coffee for the morning, and a sweatshirt to cover up once the sun goes down, the steamy days we enjoyed these past few months are hopefully behind us.

And while we’re still itching for a few more beach days, there are plenty of other things that are keeping us busy besides just sweating it out in the sun—and these are just a few of them in this week’s What We’re Diggin’.

LA

Nick Dimengo, Content Creator: “I’m diggin’ on my first time in L.A. with Shawn Jennings last week. What an incredible place, where ambitious people flood the streets like Sour Patch Kids do my kitchen cabinet. Had an amazing time meeting the Vita team down there, seeing the smiles on everyone’s face at A Walk on Water’s event and sprinting to catch our flight back to Seattle.”

Erin Bednarz, Customer Service: “I’m diggin’ my visit to one of our wholesale customers, Restaurant Zoe, for their awesome end-of-summer atmosphere and killer salmon tar tare! I’m also really excited to head down to Portland with my mom this weekend and say what’s up to our Alberta and Third Avenue crew.”

Pearl Nelson, Sales: “I’m diggin’ on Witness bar on Broadway in Capitol Hill!”

Sarah Lane, Marketing Intern: “I’m diggin’ that I’m all done with my summer quarter! And I’m pumped to go to the Seahawks preseason game this Friday!”

Unknown

Rick Friel, Grocery Field Rep: “I’m diggin’ our continued partnership with the good people at Beacon Food Forest. They’re really making a big difference in this world, and I’m so happy that I can represent Caffe’ Vita each time I bring them a few boxes of our organic coffee. Believe me, they appreciate it. I’m also diggin’ on training our new delivery driver, Joe Kirk. He’s a real nice guy and I think he’ll make a great addition to the Vita family. It’s nice passing down what I’ve learned.”

Alicia BasingerManager, Fremont: “I’m diggin’ iced lattes, polydactyl kittens, Pilates and making pottery this week.”

Ross Beamish, Head Trainer: “I’m diggin’ on working with the staff at The Goodland Hotel in Goleta this week. I’m also happy to have sat down at Industrial Eats for dinner last night. Their seasonal, locally focused menu of pizzas and “not pizzas” always blows me away.”

Allison Hardy, Manager, Phinney Ridge: “I’m diggin’ dancer Leah Jones, who just so happens to be a regular at the Phinney Ridge cafe. Check out this new Gran Rapids music video she dances in below, where there’s a Vita hat toss in slow motion at the 2:23 mark. Love it!”

Something you need this week: Alpen White & Black Baseball Tee—Like Shawn and Pearl, it’s always a style home run when wearing this. (Buy Here)

10562658_10152308177020773_6942715949658080835_o

My First Time: BLVD 16 at Hotel Palomar

| August 19, 2014

_blvd-16-caffe-vita-restaraunt-025

It may have been the glam of Los Angeles or the ideal location on Wilshire Boulevard, but something about BLVD 16 was just right.

Located in Hotel Palomar—a Kimpton property—BLVD 16 certainly has all of the bells and whistles that a first-time visitor to the city would expect, but the service, prices and, most importantly, the cuisine is what separates it from other trendy places in the area.

Rather than trying to keep up with the Jones’, BLVD 16 holds true to itself in serving what they describe as, “farm-to-fabulous” food, offering a bevy of options in a perfectly designed setting.

Not over-the-top fancy or too dim, BLVD 16 hits on every level, with menu prices that are affordable for a table of two or a large party.

_blvd-16-caffe-vita-restaraunt-015

Since they serve Caffe Vita, I wanted to check this place out—and it surpassed all of my expectations.

Making a stop in for brunch this past Sunday, I was immediately overwhelmed by the depth of the menu, with selections for those who like their first meal of the day either light, hearty or sweet.

_blvd-16-caffe-vita-restaraunt-035

As a vegetarian, my eyes—and stomach—got big for the Egg White Scramble, which consisted of roasted tomato, spinach and mushrooms, which joined a cup of Vita coffee to help pick me up.

At the first bite, I knew I made the right choice, as the flavor hit about every taste bud in my mouth. The eggs were cooked perfectly and the fresh veggies complemented them just right.

_blvd-16-caffe-vita-restaraunt-030

Shawn Jennings—Vita’s Digital Media Manager— and I were so focused on our food that any form of conversation was limited, with Shawn ordering the Acai and Tropical Fruit Bowl.

Scarfing down our plates in a matter of minutes, we eventually talked about how impressed we both were with both the city of L.A. and the friendliness of everyone at BLVD 16.

After overhearing our conversation about surfing after breakfast, our server gave his suggestions as to where the best spots to go are—and pleaded to try and come with us following his shift.

Just as we were set to pay and say thanks to everyone we met, a surprise dessert came out to us, on the house!

_blvd-16-caffe-vita-restaraunt-046

Serving a German Chocolate Cake to two guys is never a bad idea—even if it is just after breakfast—as the dessert was gone in minutes.

Making our way out of the hotel, both Shawn and I were thoroughly impressed with our experience, agreeing that we’d have to come back during our next visit to the city.

BLVD 16 might not have the star-studded appeal that other restaurants in the city have, but if you’re looking for a place where you can get great food, drinks, service and actually hold down a conversation, BLVD 16 is one of the best spots in town.

blvd-16-caffe-vita-restaraunt