You feel when you are dining at Arcie's in Santa Monica that you are contributing to the future of food science, humankind or something much bigger.
You feel so virtuous by the end of an Arcie meal, which has been bombarded with nutrient-dense complex carbohydrates (fruits, vegetables, legumes and grains) and touched only by reverse-osmosis purified water so bacteria don't fall back into the food, that you want to go out in search of bacterium--maybe even slum it with a doughnut or fatty burger.
But Arcie won't let you.
She's out there, a veritable culinary Einstein-ette, wiry hair flying, in her laboratory kitchen with beakers and test tubes, developing edible containers, food platforms , picks and pellets that turn into plates--and coming close--oh so close--to a major breakthrough. . . .
World to Eat Differently
"The world will have to eat very differently than they do now," said Arcie, an inventor, recipe developer, radio personality and cooking teacher, after explaining the unusual sauce accompanying the macaroni cake. The macaroni cake sauce, if you're curious, is "an extension of itself." Which, translated, means that the sauce has been cloned--ingredients found in the macaroni cake are pureed into a sauce.
I admire Arcie Nishkian's free-thinking approach to her food and her unusual restaurant, and find her sincerity in this city of hype merchandisers and imitators inspirational. I definitely would drop by on occasion, if only to see what progress has been made in the laboratory. Did the edible picks make it? Did she find the ideal protein replacement for the year 3001? Will her cloned macaroni cake sauce improve?
Which brings us to the food.
Health authorities say that 60% of our calorie intake per day should come from complex carbohydrates. At Arcie's, a single meal will provide them--easily. Whether you love the taste of them is another matter.
You get, even before the meal arrives, Arcie's vinaigrette, a variety of steamed, organically grown vegetables--such as cauliflower, carrots, sweet potato, celery, zucchini--on a small plate served with picks (to be edibilized soon). You also get steamed veggies with the entrees-- burrito excelente , macaroni cake, filet mignon, chicken, crustless zucchini pie nouvelle or the several fresh steamed or baked (never fried) fish dishes.
Be sure to ask for the tamari sauce, clarified lemon butter and hot salsa. You won't be sorry. Then you get steamed bulgur, humankind's first--and probably most healthful--grain, and/or plaki, a wonderful bean dish of Armenian-Greek-Turkish origin. The food has been cooked without fat, additives and minimal sodium so you know you are American Heart Assn.-approved. Actually, many of the dishes on the menu are AHA-approved.
Filo Dough Cups
Arcie also has developed several creamy-type dishes served in filo dough cups, which are edible containers.
But the emphasis is on the vegetables and grains. Meat is downplayed. Arcie doesn't buy it unless it is organically raised. Arcie notifies her customers that the chicken is from Shelton Farms (a free-to-roam chicken), the salt is from the sea, the oils are derived from soy, safflower and sesame and the breads are whole grain only: chapati, an Indian flat bread and lavash, a bread from her mother's native Armenia. The soups are meatless, and those who sympathize with Arcie's health philosophy will find them wonderful. I find soup made without meat or chicken stock lacking, no matter how nutritious.
The place, with its pink homemade slip-covered chairs and semi-tasteful art, is charming, clean and fun. Memorable, too, like the bulgur, the beans and the water. Terrific.
Arcie's, 2920 Lincoln Blvd. Santa Monica, (213) 396-3403. Open for dinner from 5 to 10 p.m. daily except Monday. Major credit cards accepted. Some parking on premises. Reservations accepted. Entrees $5 to $13.75. Wine and beer. Catering available.