My two cents on My Two Cents:
Just when you thought you couldn’t take one more all too healthy stewed kale and braised quinoa salad or a beyond undrinkable vinegary kombucha smoothie along comes My Two Cents (yes, that’s the name of the restaurant) that splits the difference between the fashionable world of health foods and the deliciousness of fatty, sugary, carb heavy old-fashioned comfort food.
The single-page menu is littered with the GF symbol for gluten-free food as well as vegetarian sausage in the seafood gumbo. But please don’t let that deter you away since there are a plethora of riches on the pithy menu.
The tiny though homey joint, complete with a coffee house reminiscent couch in one corner and soft-hued impressionistic paintings, sends out delicious dishes that tantalize the taste buds to no end on a slowly gentrified stretch of Pico Boulevard still littered with mom and pop liquor stores and auto body shops.
A recent $20 prixe-fixe Sunday only chef’s table dinner included a roasted beet and feta salad with a blissfully reticent vinaigrette, a sautéed catfish (beyond moist and flavorful) lashed with a sweet, though not saccharinely so, house made barbeque sauce riding shotgun atop dirty rice and sided with collard greens that tasted to good to be meat free (and yet is was), and finished with an old-Southern 7-Up cake, essentially a luscious pound cake laced with the eponymous 7-Up and frosted with a well-modulated lemon icing. The meal was beyond tasty. If it was healthy too, then new meaning must be given to the hackneyed term, “healthy.” This joint bears no resemblance to macrobiotic cafes in the back of health food stores.
The chef and proprietor, Alisa Reynolds, did some serious time behind the stoves of a prestigious New York restaurants as well as decidedly prominent one, Paio, in Los Angeles years ago. The self-taught chef has a way with flavor, which shines through primarily soul food and Creole-inflected dishes (her spaghetti with vegetarian tomato sauce is the soul Italian outlier). Her seafood gumbo, sans pork, still approaches a depth of flavor unique to the bayou with a deliriously tasty though traditionally murky brown roux that does just the trick to wake up patrons in health-food saturated LA. There’s chunks of blue crab, a few shrimp, and veggie sausage, which ultimately if not enhancing the gumbo does not detract from its potency. But her novel spin on the dish is to added pickled okra to the mix, a decidedly felicitous touch.
Her parmesan-laced shrimp and grits in an earthen-ware bowl is nothing to thrown stones at either, dipping with unprecedented success in the all too taken for granted, classic, antediluvian Low-Country repertoire unique to the iconic Carolinas.
She usually makes the rounds to the approximately dozen or so tables and the rest of the wait staff is friendly, efficient, and helpful yet a little green. However, this is merely a very good café rather than white tablecloth, fine dining. There’s no need for fawning, overly meticulous service. The tables are all rustic and woodsy. And nothing stronger than iced tea laced with a sprightly, puckery lemonade is on offer.