by Tracey Paleo, Gia On The Move

In a the-more-things-change-the-more-they-stay-the-same, Hollywood neighborhood most famous for its 24-hour Rock & Roll Ralphs and The Guitar Center, restauranteur and chef Justin Saunders has installed a très modern, culinary slash art eatery to the corner of Sunset and Gardner. Frankly, it’s a welcome addition.

Restauranteur and Chef Justin Saunders

Focused on clean eating, the oeuvre of AllSpice is more than health-conscious, Mediterranean fusion with a hint of Asian influence, the menu and decor call up Saunders’ own Caribbean roots…also his fine art & design origins. The flair ascertained directly from its charming, energetic founder.

“It’s exciting opening your own place. I sold all of my art to get to America. The piece on the back wall by the kitchen is the last of my original collection. It’s an award-winning piece.”

According to Saunders, AllSpice is more than a name. It’s a metaphor. People are spicy. Food uses spice. Art has spice. Life is spice. The restaurant itself is really a part of a larger picture. He is serious about bringing together the local community through art, creating a haven for artists…while of course, sampling the culinary offerings in the totally relaxed, un-bougie atmosphere. As part of AllSpice‘s humble endeavors, Saunders is currently collaborating with Gardner Street Elementary School to bring art to kids.

Floor to ceiling glass walls facing Sunset invites gorgeous natural lighting during the day and all the excitement on the strip at night. And the ambiance points directly to the simplicity of the menu. Offerings at the press tasting were breathtakingly straightforward packing a lot of flavor in each dish, although carb heavy.

Here’s the menu:

  • Falafel Balls with Mint Pesto – the perfect texture married with the perfect spice. Nothing bland, heavy, greasy, or overdone about this staple. It was a mouthwatering start to the beginning of the evening.  The pesto added a delicate kick.
  • Mushroom and green pepper kabobs – Absolutely fresh but definitively without fanfare.
  • Brussel Sprout Salad –  Served warm. Tender, succulent.  And for this vegetable that saying a lot.  It’s a dish you’ll actually want to eat more of.
  • Sweet Plantains – ok, like, we didn’t want to believe it but the plantains had a sort of ‘jerk’ flavor and were truly sweeter and ‘brighter’ than anything we’ve tasted ever before.
  • Sweet Potato fries – a seemingly omnipresent epicurean essential from diners to hotels everywhere, these were nevertheless, crisp, flavor balanced for sweet and salt, and served hot in a Chinese food container (which actually made the experience more fun). We gorged. Seriously, what else?

Signature Cocktails (spiked with Vodka for the evening from sponsor American Harvest Organic Vodka)

  • The Handsome Ginger
    ginger, lemon, simple syrup, fennel, brown sugar
  • Fresh Mint Lemonade (This was our absolute favorite!)
    Lemon, Basil, simple syrup, fresh mint ground and strained
  • Spicy Hibiscus
    Closes, AllSpice, simple Syrup, Cinnamon

Other items served (We were seriously full and stuck to the vegetarian stuff.)

  • Mango Fried Rice
  • Sweet & Sour Chicken

Portion sizes are light. But the food is packed with so much flavor that a few bites is seriously enough to satisfy.  The regular menu is small and uncomplicated. Prices are fair. Flavor gets an A. Epicure factor a B. Ambience a B+. Overall, giving this place a recommend. We can’t wait to visit for some of their lunch and dinner wraps, salads and (more protein based) kebabs.

Copyright © 2019 Tracey Paleo – Gia On The Move

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