After a particularly demanding day of yoga and shopping in Venice Beach, we decided to duck into Axe for a late lunch as diners were clearing out. Kimba, a close family friend and bestie of my mother, is the ultimate LA host and is more hip than I can ever hope to be. Born and raised in Tennessee, her southern charm wins everyone over in this town. (I mean, she even got me the chance to be an extra on the show ‘American Dreams’ with Allison Williams for my 17th birthday, so for that I am eternally indebted to her.)
I digress. Anyway, this place oozes LA in a good way. Set on the edgy-chic street of Abbott Kinney (which sadly seems to be changing for the worse, as chain stores are popping up left and right), Axe is an oasis for the glowing, svelte Venice set. Just the people watching alone is enough to make you want to pass on that Double-Double you were fantasizing about earlier.
The menu more or less reads like a grocery list for an elimination diet, the type people love to bash (including me). We shared a few things and I hate to say it, but they were all incredible. I can’t even pick a favorite. The Asparagus and Heirloom Lettuces salad was refreshing and crisp with English peas, spring onions, fingerling potatoes, parmesan, and a lemon mustard vinaigrette. Such bright, clean flavors and it didn’t feel like you were eating rabbit food. The asparagus stalks were something out of the Redwood Forest, but were so flavorful and perfectly cooked. This is definitely something I can attempt to recreate at home, but it won’t be nearly as aesthetically pleasing.
Kimba ordered the Spicy Chicken Soup with brown rice and cilantro onion relish. I have NEVER tasted chicken soup like this before. It was fragrant and spicy and not so salty that you needed to chug your glass of water afterwards. This is exactly the chicken soup that you want when you’re under the weather. I could have gulped that bowl down in a second had I not been in public. The smugness was oozing out of my pores at this point.
Lastly, we shared the Basic Bowl, one of their two bowl options on the lunch menu. Knowing I would be eating bone marrow later that night, I ordered it thinking “Eh, that will be healthy and probably decent tasting.” Who knew that bean sprouts and cabbage could be so delicious? The bowl included brown rice, bean sprouts, cucumber, onion, shaved cabbage, carrots, peanuts, and fresh herbs all topped with a sesame lime dressing. The menu says the dressing contains a fish product (I’m assuming something similar to fish sauce) and it adds a great tangy flavor to the dish.
Here’s the best part though. Later that evening as I was proudly telling our LA friends about our goop-esque day, I was told that Axe is in fact pronounced ‘Ah-Shay’. Can you say outsider? Apparently it’s a salutation that means “go with the power of the Gods and Goddesses.” Only in LA. I can’t say for sure if Gwynnie dines at Axe regularly, but I have a feeling she’d like it quite a bit.
Axe, 1009 Abbot Kinney, Venice, CA, (310) 664-9787, http://www.axerestaurant.com, Open Wednesday – Sunday for Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner (see website for details and to make reservations).