Peace. Love. Flower Child

After a day riding bicycles in Santa Monica, we ventured into the Bohemian restaurant Flower Child for an early dinner. Guests are transported into a happy world with peace signs, flowers and yoga mats curled into wicker baskets labeled, “Yoga Mat Parking.” This is a go-to spot for fitness enthusiasts coming in after a class, families and those seeking a no guilt, healthy meal.

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Flower Child is a fast casual spot where guests place their order at the counter and take a number to a table. It reminded me a little of the restaurant chain Tender Greens, yet once I tasted the food, I realized it is much different.

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Flower Child is a two story, 5,000 sq. ft. space with concrete flooring and white walls displaying interesting murals and artwork. The color palette is navy blue and white with sand colored banquettes and marble top tables with green bases. Upstairs is a full dining area with large exposed air ducts and light green shelves holding plants and little baskets.

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The restaurant works with suppliers who respect, protect and love their animals and farms. They only purchase organic produce and refer to the Environmental Working Group (EWG) Dirty Dozen list, a popular and widely used guide to pesticide levels, identifying fruits and vegetables that have the highest and lowest pesticide residues. Pesticides used on many crops present health risks, particularly to children and those with health concerns, according to EWG.

All of the salads at Flower Child are under $10 and made with ingredients guided by the Dirty Dozen list. For those who are trying to eliminate sugar from their diet, Flower Child has a lemon-avocado dressing that is sugar free and dairy free to slick up the greens and vegetables.

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Flower Child offers Kombucha on tap and a variety of iced tea beverages that include a Japanese mango sencha green tea. I ordered it and found it both delicately sweet and tangy. It’s made with Japan’s most popular every day tea. There is also a passion fruit black tea and a decaffeinated red mango tisane. Tisane is a dark amber infusion of dried herbs. This one is enhanced with sweet mango. They provide a fresh daily juice and selection of hot loose leaf teas. They also serve local craft beer and red and white wine on tap poured in six and eight ounce glasses. The pinot grigio is quite good.
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This has become a popular spot for families during the day and early evening. They provide high chairs and a healthy multi-course kids menu for children under 12 for $6.50. Little ones can select a protein and two sides that include broccoli with a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese, smashed organic potatoes, sweet corn with quinoa, the mac and cheese, brown organic rice or a piece of fruit.

On the regular menu there are symbols designating dishes as vegan, gluten-free and/or vegetarian. They prepare some grass-fed steak and grilled chicken options too.

Bowls are international in flavor with a Thai cashew quinoa bowl; Madras curry bowl with a little coconut; Chinese bowl with forbidden black pearl rice and sweetened slightly with red japonica fruit. One can add shaved beef or shaved chicken onto this bowl for an additional cost.

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I ordered the Mother Earth bowl filled with ancient grains and a variety of vegetables that included sweet potatoes, portobello mushrooms, avocado, cucumber, broccoli pesto and greens dressed with a red pepper miso vinaigrette and hemp seed. A woman sitting next to us was enjoying a Mexican-style bowl with beans, roasted chiles, quinoa and avocado topped with an egg.

Wraps are popular with four varieties on the menu. They can be made with a whole grain or a flax and chia seed tortilla. There is also a gluten-free pita. The smoked turkey with gouda and avocado hummus is called the Flying Avocado. Others include a spicy non-GMO vegan tofu wrap.

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Meat eaters will enjoy the grass- fed steak with a French semi-soft pasteurized cow’s milk port salut cheese. It offers a mild flavor that is elevated with a horseradish yogurt. The melted grilled chicken wrap is spicier with melted pepper jack cheese, charred onions and peppers.

Since there are 14 different sides, I also ordered the “mix ’n’ match” sides plate with the option to choose one, two or three specially prepared sides. I chose three dishes, starting with the roasted butternut squash. It offered a delightful crunch due to the toasted mulberries. These little semi-hard berries offer a slightly sweet and tart essence. Mulberries grow on silkworm trees and have numerous health boosting flavonoid phyto-nutrients. There was also some chopped black kale glazed with a rich maple chestnut vinaigrette to provide more texture and flavor.

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The second side was a Japanese eggplant with Thai basil and chopped cashews. Next to it was a white and creamy gluten-free mac and cheese.

Seeking a sweet ending, Flower Child offers a few desserts that include an olive oil cake and variety of large cookies. We found both very satisfying.

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Looking for a dining destination to keep your 2017 resolution of eating healthier? Bring your yoga mat and park it by the stairs in a basket before freely ordering a variety of pleasing guiltless options.

Flower Child serves breakfast on Saturday and Sunday from 9 to 11 a.m. They’re open daily from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. 332 2nd St. (310)382-2901.

This article was featured in the February 16 issue of Beverly Press and Park LaBrea News – http://beverlypress.com/2017/02/peace-love-flower-child/

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