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Raw Talent

Roxanne's of Larkspur

Had I not known that Roxanne's serves only raw, 100% organic, vegan cuisine, I would never have guessed after lingering over dinner. From the outside, Roxanne's looks like a tiny Marin dining destination. From the floor to ceiling windows, diners can watch the latest imported cars drive past on Magnolia Avenue. Inside the intimate dining room, the darkly stained vaulted ceilings engulf the noise that might otherwise interrupt a pleasant evening. The room is understated and apparently unremarkable until you realize that the fabrics used on the banquette along the back wall are made of recycled materials. In fact, most of the interior of the restaurant is made from sustainably produced materials, or recycled items. The management has overlooked no detail, from the flawless service, to the wide variety of elegant china, Roxanne's marries understated elegance, personal health, and agricultural sustainability.

The menu (which is printed on tree-less paper) includes flavors from throughout the Mediterranean, Europe, Asia and Latin America and is split up into three prix fixe options: two courses for $29.00, three courses for $38.00 or four courses for $47.00 (dessert is not included in the set price menu). With four to six appetizers, soups and salads, main courses, and desserts to choose from, it's hard to go wrong.

For a first course, the pizza is a fantastic demonstration of what this kitchen can do. Using a convection oven to dehydrate sprouted flax seeds at no more than 118 degrees, Chef Klein achieves the perfect pizza-crust consistency. The almond milk cheese has only a slight tang to remind you of what you are eating. The dish arrives at the table warm, but not hot, with tomato and arugula topping. The Pad Thai consists primarily of strips of Thai green coconut. The rendition is magnificent and while it tastes like the dish served at your favorite Thai restaurant, the pleasant, soft crunch of the coconut strands tells you that this is different. The lasagne arrives at the table, a perfectly wrapped slice of fresh corn, mushrooms, tomatoes and almond cheese surrounded by dehydrated strips of zucchini, which achieves the perfect pasta consistency and color. While not the piping hot, gooey stack of ingredients for which your mother is famous, it is a deliciously inspired testament to the kitchen's talent. The Mediterranean plate (hummus, made from ground almonds, babaganoush, dolmas and falafel) is delicious, but it falls short of the fine dining aspirations of the restaurant. Doesn't a dish like this belong at the comfortable La Mediterranee? If it does, no one seems to mind, and the flavors and consistency are so convincing that it adds to the enjoyment and surprise of the meal. While the menu changes to reflect the availability of ingredients, designing a dish is difficult and time-consuming. Textures are perfected through laborious trial and error procedure and only the most delicious and convincing dishes are served.

Roxanne's is a non-profit restaurant. Roxanne and her husband, millionaire Michael Klein, have promised that as soon as the restaurant starts turning a profit, the money will be donated to programs committed to the standards and ideals to which the restaurant has committed itself. Whether proceeds are going to charities or to pay bills, Roxanne's is an experience you cannot miss.