Lunch in SoHo

By SoHo, I'm not referring to that hip bohemian haven in the Big Apple, but what I've come to think of as South Hollywood...the neighborhood within which I toil thanklessly 9-6, every day.
Work drudgery aside, lunchtime is usually a happy time for me. There are loads of restaurants in every pocket of LA, and I'd like to wax poetic for a moment about the two that are making my Tuesday a bit brighter.

Most of the hipster crowd in the city is probably aware of
M de Chaya (http://mcafedechaya.com), even if they haven't been. This veggie/pesca friendly place has always struck me as a uber-clean, new-agey deli. They serve loads of sandwiches, salads and sushi, with a revolving menu of soups. Most of their sandwiches come with meat substitutes...do NOT go in there expecting the Muffaletta to taste of real salami, because trust me, you will leave a sad panda. However, go in with an open mind and mouth and you are sure to be satisfied. I have fallen in love with the Panino Tuscano, which they describe as "tuscan white bean spread, spicy seitan “salami”, caramelized onions & arugula on house-baked focaccia grilled hot & crisp to order." It sounds delicious because it is. Nuff said.
Today, though, I wanted something different. I have a (some say bad) habit of always getting the same thing at different restaurants once I find something I adore. So I decided to opt out of my sandwich rut and dive into a few salads. Their menu lets you choose 2, 3 or 4 salads to combine in a sort of personal salad smorgasbord. I went with three vastly different but (pretty much) equally yummy choices:
  1. Kale with Peanut Sauce--there's really nothing else to this puppy. Kale, if you're not familiar, seems similar in strength of taste to spinach; texturally, though, it is more substantial. The strong taste of the kale is balanced by the subtle sweetness of the peanuty dressing.
  2. Sesame Soba Noodles--basically cold veggie lo mein (which, if you're me, is pretty much kickass anytime), but with a distinct taste of sesame, both in the dressing and in the seeds throughout the salad. There were some rather unwieldy pieces of tofu in this serving a little too tough for my liking, but it didn't do much to detract from the salad as a whole.
  3. Wasabi Sweet Potato Salad--yes, wasabi. I was both scared and fascinated by the idea of this dish. Let me put it out there now that I am normally not a fan of salads with mayo, and only ordered this one because they made it with vegannaise. The wasabi was an undertone of the overall dish, which worked really well. However, the sweet potatoes seemed no different that regular potatoes to me...it could be I just have not had enough exposure to them, but I have to admit being disappointed with that. My fave part of this salad was the slices of cucumbers...their crunchiness in combo with the wasabi vegannaise was nearly worth my sweet potato disappointment.
After a very short wait (in spite of a crowd) I got my salads to go and started the trek back to the office. I passed over the used bookstore, sex toy shop and haberdashery, but couldn't resist stopping at the local coffee shop to pick up my drink. Stir Crazy is a little cafe with a faded sign and an eclectic clientèle. I wandered in there one morning when I had missed breakfast, and waited no less than 20 minutes for a sandwich. With no one in line in front of me. BUT, along with that sandwich, I ordered something that I would NEVER have imagined on the menu of this place, or really any place: a cherry lime rickey. So what? you might say. Cherry and Lime Concentrate with some seltzer water...anyone could do that. Oh, but DOES anyone do it? No. Just ORDERING it made me feel like I was wearing a poodle skirt and waiting for my guy to pick me up outside the soda shop. Today, as I walked back to work (or hell, as I like to call it), that rickey called to me. It said, 'I'll make your day better! Just give me another chance! It won't take too long (unless you order a sandwich too)!''
So I did. And it was right. It was just the right ratio of cherry to lime to soda water, not too sweet or tart. Just Cherry Lime Rickey perfection. If you don't know what that is yet, well, I hope you do someday. It makes even hell a little bit more comfortable.

Until next time...

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