Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Four Cafe: An excuse to pause

Without fail, my weekends always seem to fall into two categories. Either I’m so busy I am basically running from one thing to the next, or I have absolutely nothing to do and spend the entire time cursing myself for not having the foresight to do more planning with the people I want to have plans with before they make other… plans.

This past weekend started out as one of those self-cursing-weekends – partially because as soon as I arrived home on Friday night my phone stopped charging. A quick trip to the Verizon store confirmed that the charging port was irrevocably damaged – the result of my overaggressive, repetitive jamming of the charger into the phone. (Apparently, not such a great idea.) While I was able to order a replacement courtesy of my insurance plan (see, it pays to have… plans), the news that I would be without a phone for the rest of the weekend was a bit shattering – especially on a weekend that was already looking relatively bleak in terms of social interaction.

For a moment I tried to convince myself that it would be “freeing” to be unreachable for a few days. I could be alone with my thoughts – do some soul-searching, focus on my writing and discover the meaning of life through solitude.

After approximately one minute of this “solitude,” I decided that I’d rather find meaning by spending time with actual people. Using my trusty laptop and Twitter account, I finalized last-minute dinner plans for the night, and then the next day, I made a spontaneous lunch date with my good friend Nastassia.

The blank slate of my day afforded me the opportunity to do a little more driving than I would usually do on a normal Saturday. I suggested we go to Four Cafe in Eagle Rock, one of Nastassia’s favorite spots, for a casual, healthy bite. I had plenty of time to drive the 45 minutes it takes to get there from my apartment and, because I had no other engagements to rush off to, plenty of time to linger with her as we savored the cafe’s thoughtful, fresh fare.

Four Cafe’s bright green sign is an appropriate marking for the humble space on Colorado Avenue. Not only does Chef/Owner Michelle Wilton use local, organic ingredients to create her seasonally inspired menu of salads, soups and sandwiches, the restaurant is committed to green business practices as well. The husband and wife team (Co-Owner Corey Wilton also creates the artwork) chose to use reclaimed wood in the bright one-room dining room, used equipment in the kitchen and energy efficient appliances.

Chef Wilton applies that same thoughtfulness to the food she lovingly serves to the loyal cadre of patrons that frequent the cafe. The seasonal vegan curry cauliflower soup ($4.50/cup) with a delicate green apple and kale garnish is subtle, yet exacting. It oozes freshness – like the cauliflower was plucked from the ground just prior to being pureed.

The roasted root veggie salad ($6 for a half portion, $2 extra for grilled chicken) with earthy mixed greens, honey roasted root vegetables, quinoa, feta cheese, pumpkin seeds, and chili mint dressing, is similarly refined by the quality of the ingredients. The brightness of the mint and slight spice from the chili powder awaken the other flavors in the generously portioned salad. With the variety of tastes and textures, it’s the type of leafy affair that never grows tiresome – even after the 55th bite.

It was easy for me to get lost in the food and conversation with my friend on Saturday. Despite my initial annoyance at the prospect of a weekend without plans or a cell phone, I was grateful for the opportunity to spend the time with Nastassia without the pressure of a full schedule or that bleeping green cell phone light reminding me that I have ten new e-mails and seven new text messages.

I could simply exist in the moment – enjoying the humble, market-inspired fare and the company of a good friend in a cozy little corner of Eagle Rock.

Four Cafe
2122 1/2 Colorado Blvd.
Eagle Rock, CA 90041
(323) 550-1988


Esi said...

Ooh, that roasted veg salad sounds really good. I can't wait to see you recreate it ;)

Anna A. said...

Ahhhh, I LOVE Four Cafe! I wish I could have been there with you two ladies and check out what they have for this season. Good stuff, TALF!

Alessandra said...

I want that salad!!

Monet said...

I wish I lived closer because I adore that salad. It looks so much better than what I had for lunch today. I hope you have a wonderful day tomorrow. Thank you for sharing another day of delicious goodness!

LetMeEatCake Eat With Me! said...

that was the perfect Saturday! i <3 u!

Diana said...

Esi - Uh oh... that feels like a challenge! And I feel like it's a challenge I'm gonna accept!

Anna - Aww, I wish you could have been there too! It really is a special spot!

Ali - Yes, yes you do. Come visit LA and I'll take you there. ;)

Monet - I wish you lived in LA too -- would be so fun to meet you in person and share a meal together!

Nastassia - It really was the perfect way to spend an afternoon. Thank you so much for meeting up with me and perking up my Saturday!