Name of restaurant: Kitchen Mouse
Concept: An unpretentious, newly-opened vegetarian gluten-free breakfast and lunch option in Highland Park’s historic Figueroa Street shopping strip, with good coffee.
What dish represents the restaurant, and why? Moros cakes, a fun take on the Cuban staple food of black beans and rice in the form of croquettes that are crispy on the edges and tender on the inside. The cakes are drizzled with a bit of chipotle cream, a thick dab of rich cilantro chutney and served with a zingy serrano and lime slaw.
Runners-up? Dill pesto quinoa salad with a red cabbage and beet tahini slaw and a generous wedge of ripe avocado. This deceivingly simple dish proves that you don’t have to sacrifice flavor and calories to eat healthy; the few ingredients in the plate were well seasoned and well dressed, leaving you satisfied without any dreaded after-lunch food coma.
Who’s at the next table? Highland Park’s newer wave of younger residents with nice hair-dos and glasses. Also, a few ladies in yoga pants and ponytails, probably refueling after an intense session from the Pop Physique across the street.
Appropriate for: Catching up on your veggie intake without hating it, especially if you’ve been really busy lately and eating lousily. Also, ideal for a quick business lunch because it’s not that loud inside.
Service: Quick and curt counter service.
Uh-oh: The menu is small. Though there is a different special available every week.
Info: 5904 N. Figueroa St., Los Angeles, (323) 259-9555.