Vegan Food Gets Real: Tal Ronnen Adding Crossroads To The Growing Scene Of Meat-Free Menus

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Ronnen's quinoa salad Photo: Becoming Green/Flickr

Tal Ronnen made a big splash in the headlines in 2011 when news broke that this former private chef to Oprah was opening a vegan restaurant with Portia DiRossi, Chrissie Hynde, and Ellen DeGeneres. Though Ronnen was probably not at the fulcrum of this media storm, we came to really appreciate the chef after tasting his vegan oysters at an fundraiser for Common Threads; a dainty dish that leaned on nori-topped artichokes for its oceanic essences and not on bi-valves.

Now Eater catches the chef working to open his own restaurant with producer, gazillionaire, and notorious cutter of lines, Steve Bing. Called Crossroads, the restaurant will offer vegan fine-dining, but for the love of things that aren't good for us, fortunately features booze as well. Replacing Phillippe Chow on Melrose, Crossroads will offer dishes under the $20 mark, with desserts by Palate Food + Wine veteran Serafina Magnussen and organic cocktails, wine, and beer by Jeremy Lake of Playa and Rivera.

Is this the year meat-shunning restaurants, traditionally the victims of ambitious dreams and heart-breaking shutters, finally earn respect? It does appear to be on the verge of a breakthrough. Santa Monica is now host to Matthew Kenney's critically-lauded M.A.K.E., earning new accolades for a chef-driven meatless menu, while nearby Venice just saw the opening of Feed Body & Soul, which offers both plant-based and carnivorous cuisine in concert along with organic cocktails.

Cafe Gratitude continues to ratchet up cult-members numbers at its temple of vegetable-centered cooking, and soon Art Smith will endow Culver City with his own imported empire of organic meats, Gardein burgers, and Daiya cheese at Lyfe Kitchen, where Ronnen was earlier involved. Even Ziggy Marley may tangle with the Babylon shitstem and go into business serving his own style of ital eats to L.A. So for now, it appears that healthy eating is hitting a bit of a new stride around here.

Tal Ronnen, Chef of Plant-Based Crossroads on Melrose [Eater]