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FIRST IMPRESSIONS

Anyone for Algae?

May 02, 1993|LAURIE OCHOA

People are talking about . . . spirulina? Fashion is inspired by the hippies these days, and so is food. Consider the Nature Club, where a whole new generation can discover brown rice, tofu and even spirulina, which the glossary on the menu helpfully defines as a "vitamin-laden green algae from the sea." The people who run the cafe--part of a new natural health spa--know that there are a lot of us who missed out on the '60s.

One enticement: a groovy tropical environment with lots of plants and wicker and a rain-forest soundtrack (bird calls, water sounds) that brings back happy childhood memories of the Tiki Room at Disneyland. There's a juice bar, and an elixir bar too, where herbal tonics, tinctures and teas are sold with names like Female Harmony, Mushroom Magic and Beautiful Skin.

As for the food itself, there are a few '60s-style nuts-and-hummus dishes. But you can tell it's the '90s--one of the stuffed potatoes comes with chanterelles, and one of the salads is mozzarella with sun-dried tomatoes and pesto. Still, if you're more interested in good food than in good health, this is a menu that requires careful navigation. The five-bean dal is a complex and interesting stew. Pasta Oceana, tossed with lots of Gorgonzola and topped with pears and seaweed, is good but too rich to eat a lot of. But it's got one major advantage--it doesn't taste like health food.

The Nature Club, 7174 Melrose Ave., Los Angeles, (213) 931-4763. Entrees, $6.25-$10.95.

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