Saturday, August 18, 2007

Three Square Cafe, Venice

A German restaurant, not the most likely dinner destination for a vegetarian, Three Square Café turns out fresh seasonal fare highlighting farmer’s market ingredients. The café/restaurant and bakery are the latest Röckenwagner ventures on Abbot Kinney. The bakery next door to the café was closed by the time we arrived but I’m assuming it sells the same variety of pretzel rolls, croissants, brown loafs, and German streusel cakes available at the Röckenwagner bakery and their stands at local farmer’s markets. While I was able to order a completely vegetarian meal straight from the menu, there is little reason for a vegan to visit this restaurant with the chef hailing from the land of bread, meat and cheese.

The house bread and butter plate consisted of a bacon cheese roll. Luckily the waiter warned us about the bacon and offered to replace it with a cheese pretzel roll.

We started with two appetizers: The Avocado fries, slices of avocado dipped in a batter (seasoned with enough salt to enhance the sweet fruit flavor) and deep fried maintained their firm creamy texture on the outside and melted in the mouth. When dipped in the accompanying perfect pico de gallo, the avocado fries turned into a rich, warm, crunchy, version of guacamole.

The blue cheese dressing on the peach salad with Japanese bitter greens and pistachios was perfectly pungent and not overly rich but the peaches lacked the punch required to be the unadorned star of their own dish.

Our entrée was spätzle (home-made lumpy egg noodles) with cheese, morel mushrooms, and sugar snaps. While the morels were virtually tasteless, the peas, which were at peak sweetness and the garnish of finely cut chives brightened the entire dish. According to their web site, the chef, Wolfgang Gussmack’s culinary career began with cooking spätzle for his family’s restaurant in Germany. While spätzle can be heavy to the bite and lack the springy resistance one hopes for in pasta, the spätzle at Three Square were firm and yet light and absorbed the sauce.

The menu changes seasonally and for the vegetarian, there were a few other items on the menu, a duo of hot and cold soup (Gazpacho and corn chowder), an onion tart with grapes and blue cheese, Cheese and macaroni soufflé with apple-Parmesan slaw. I didn’t try the dessert although the menu was promising utilizing in-season fruit: plum cake, plum cobbler, and apricot cake. They also serve breakfast, lunch and brunch on the weekends.

Three Square Café & Bakery
1121 Abbot Kinney, 310-399-6504

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