Color us very confused

AT the new Solar Harvest in Beverly Hills, the motto is “Food that works for you.” But truth be told, you have to work for your food too.

Just look at the menu at this organic-leaning joint and next thing you know, you’re playing a version of connect the dots gone haywire. All the items are marked with various-colored dots; to make sense of it all, you match them up with the menu key.

Blue dots, for example, mean, “lean, mean protein: menu options minimize carbohydrate intakes for guests looking for lower fat protein sources.” Orange dots (not to be confused with the salmon-colored dots) mean “endurance fix: the choice for those looking for extra carbohydrates in their diet.”

The idea, says owner Elissa Meadow, is to figure out which color best describes your lifestyle, then order accordingly. Some items on the menu have just one dot, while others, such as the tofu scramble or baked yam fries, have three or four.


But just when you think you’ve worked hard enough for your food, there’s still the wine list. It has its own dot system, with its own palette of colors. Olive green is for “crisp lean whites,” for example, and purple means “silky delicate reds.”

Then, as the menu tells you, olive green on the wine list pairs well with orange and yellow on the food menu. It’s enough to make you colorblind.

Over at Mason Jar Cafe in West Hollywood, it’s more of a guessing game, with menu items marked “V,” “VG” and “CV.”

That’s how the menu describes the dishes at this year-old spot in West Hollywood that bills itself as “gourmet organic healthy.” It’s easy to figure out that the “V” next to the pressed caprese must mean vegetarian, and the “VG” by the organic mixed green salad is vegan. But the “CV” next to the brisket sandwich -- what the heck is that?

On a recent visit, even a waiter didn’t know. He did have an excuse: He was new. But then again, none of the other restaurant staff could tell us either.

Turns out “CV” means carnivore. But, duh, it’s brisket.

And what about “The BA Burger”? Definitely worth a “CV,” but it stands for something not fit to print in these pages. Let’s just say that in polite conversation, one might say “large derriere” instead.

Leslee Komaiko



Small bites

* Umenohana, the much acclaimed tofu restaurant that opened last fall in Beverly Hills, is shutting down. It’ll close today after lunch service. “It’s strictly the numbers,” said spokeswoman Chaco Kim. She added that the company, which has about 80 Umenohana restaurants in Japan, hopes to open another branch in L.A. someday, with a modified concept.

* Naya, which opened last December in Old Town Pasadena, has gone out of business a few months after chef Scooter Kanfer-Cartmill and sommelier-general manager Thierry Perez both left. Perez is now wine director at Providence on Melrose Avenue and says that Kanfer-Cartmill has moved to the Bay Area.


* Through Sept. 21, Valentino is trying to lure customers on Monday and Tuesday evenings with a 25% discount on every bottle on its award-winning wine list -- some 3,000 selections in 115 pages.

Valentino, 3115 Pico Blvd., Santa Monica; (310) 829-4313.

* Not quite a year after it opened, Rika Restaurant & Diamond Lounge in the Sunset Millennium Plaza in West Hollywood has closed. Despite its sexy decor and celebrity ties -- Tracy Griffith (Melanie’s sis) was the opening “creative sushi” chef -- the restaurant never really clicked. This is the second restaurant in the complex to meet an early demise. Central closed several months ago.