One sunny afternoon, Ginnie Lu and her friends sat in a café sipping hot drinks and chatting about how much they would love to run their own tea and coffee house. When the group realized that they had the means to carve their dream into reality, they spent the next two years saving and planning. Finally, in 2010, they opened Four Leaf Tea Room, a cozy enclave where guests can sip specialty brews amidst the aromas of sweet and savory crepes. Mugs of oolong and chrysanthemum keep fingers warm during the year's cooler temperatures, and when the summer returns, they cool down with iced teas and mango freezes on an outdoor patio.
Despite Four Leaf’s name, its upscale, innovate crepes force its teas to share the limelight. A chef trained at Le Cordon Bleu dreams up the lavish fillings, pairing smoked salmon and caper-herb cream or soy-marinated chicken with crushed peanuts for savory meals. Sweet versions make use of exotic ingredients such as red-wine-poached pears, candied pecans, taro paste, and gelato. As guests fork into these creations, they can admire walls decorated with spring-green leaves and shelves filled with loose-leaf blends and prehistoric fossils of steam from early teas.
Maison Midi's associates apply their sophisticated eyes to curating and stocking accent pieces and furnishings that add original style to homes and oddly regal treehouses. From ceramic saltshakers by Belli to faux-aged flower pots etched with artful floral designs, the shop's eclectic selection of house wares can suit a wide range of tastes.
Now in its third generation of management, Taix satisfies the palates of Franco-feasters with a menu of country cuisine presented in generous portions. Begin the edible expedition with a bowl of traditional french onion soup ($6.95), or start with a half-dozen escargots in garlic butter ($12.95), which arrive at tables still modestly dressed in their shells to accommodate prudish American attitudes toward gastro-nudity. Leaf lovers can focus their forks on an assortment of salads, such as a mélange of baby greens, sesame-seed dressing, tomatoes, and bell peppers topped with a boneless chicken breast ($12.95), and carnitarians can seek out the proteined pleasures of grilled skirt steak with lemon parsley butter and pommes frites ($18.95). Roasted fresh salmon is served with champagne cream ($19.95) to permit taste buds to toast their good fortune, and a savory schedule of daily specials allows mouths to keep track of what day it is without chewing on a calendar. Midday munchers can sate their cravings with a lunch menu sporting an array of sandwiches and other selections suited to daytime dining.
Crepes and Grapes Café celebrates and honors French culture with its sidewalk cafe atmosphere, Bastille Day celebration, and a variety of sweet and savory crepes. At breakfast, lunch, and dinner, the shop churns out thin, stuffed pancakes filled with ingredients that range from maple and cream to garlic-rich shrimp scampi. Guests can sample the edible wares within the sunny storefront or sit just outside underneath table umbrellas surrounded by salivating flower beds.
Bistro 39 delivers artistically garnished plates worthy of being tacked to the wall, if only your body's aesthetic urge to interior decorate outweighed its evolutionary desire to gobble up delicious things. Starters such as escargot Bourgogne ($8), Dungeness crab cakes ($8), and classic lobster bisque ($9) provide an opportunity to inform your first selection from Bistro 39's extensive beer and wine list. Main plates hail from salty seas and diverse terrains with options including sautéed lemon-garlic tiger shrimp on a bed of angel-hair pasta ($17) or seared duck with Grand Marnier reduction ($24). The Statue of Liberty's torch is surprisingly small, but the bistro's crème brûlée ($6) leaves American mouths agape with awe.
Executive Chef Junior Perez draws on traditional French and Italian cuisine as inspiration for the upscale menus of pasta, steaks, and seafood, which have garnered an impressive number of features on local food blogs. At the Culver City location, brunch lures palates and sentient flatware with dishes such as pork-belly hash, bedecked with tuscan potatoes and mustard sauce ($10). House-made agnolotti pouches enclose wild mushroom and mascarpone under a wave of truffle butter ($16). Cap off the epicurean experience with mascarpone cheesecake accompanied by cranberry sorbet and exotic coulis or the chocolate purse, which totes candied hazelnuts, vanilla ice cream, and a caramelized day planner. A fleet of flickering candles perches on walls and tables inside the Santa Monica locale's dining area, casting a dim orange glow on dark hardwood floors.
Under the cathedral roofs and amid the bucolic artwork of Chef Hannes, plates of fine Italian fare wafting aromas of garlic and basil arrive on white tablecloths. After examining the menu, diners can begin meals with the smoked salmon carpaccio, savory paper-thin slices of salmon playing dress-up with baby arugula robes and a crown of olive oil ($6.75). Spaghetti alla trevi coils around roasted eggplant and fresh basil ($11.95), and the grilled pork chops bask in apple-cilantro chutney ($14.95). Diners can also indulge in the fresh catch of the day, an ever-changing dish based on the yields of the sea and the whims of feline warlords. Meals can be taken in one of three banquet rooms, or on the outdoor patio amid vibrant flowers and a white picket fence.