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SCENE SETTER / CABBAGE PATCH

Running this restaurant is a marathon

Owner-chef Samir Mohajer sometimes puts in 16-hour days, seven days a week to keep the quality high and the prices low.

February 16, 2009|Jessica Gelt

The Cabbage Patch, a new restaurant in Beverly Hills run by former Rustic Canyon Wine Bar and Seasonal Kitchen chef Samir Mohajer, is an exercise in devotion. To jump start his project, Mohajer works 16-hour days, sometimes seven days a week, shopping at farmers markets, manning the cash register, busing tables, running food and washing dishes.

Located along a foot-traffic-heavy stretch of South Beverly Drive, the Cabbage Patch specializes in home-style organic fare made from fresh, locally sourced ingredients. Mohajer uses only Niman Ranch meats (which are raised without added hormones or antibiotics), cage-free Jidori chickens and fish that is caught wild. Paying attention to where food comes from takes more time than you'd think.

It also takes more money, which is why Mohajer works so much. He's saving on labor so he can keep the prices on his menu affordable. Nothing is over $14, and most dishes hover around $10. For now, Mohajer is focusing mainly on straightforward offerings that can be served up fast (lunchtime is the busiest time of day for the Cabbage Patch).

The most popular menu items are the cheddar cheese burger with applewood-smoked bacon and arugula, and a trio of wholesome rice bowls served with either seared tofu, chicken or salmon and a tangy sesame dressing. Also noteworthy is the BLTA, like a BLT but with fat chunks of fresh avocado. Order it with fries or Mohajer's signature mayo-free slaw, which is lightly dressed and tossed with peanuts. Warming lentil soup augmented with bits of Italian sausage is served with toast and topped with a citrusy tomato relish and can be a meal unto itself.

Come in at any time and you're bound to be greeted by the lanky Mohajer. On a recent Thursday afternoon, he buzzed around the small space, which has lime-colored walls, simple blond-wood tables and a counter by a large window looking onto the street.

"Is it warm enough over there, ladies?" he asked two diners before zipping back behind the counter to answer the phone.

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jessica.gelt@latimes.com

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Cabbage Patch

Where: 214 S. Beverly Drive, Beverly Hills

When: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays. Closed Sundays.

Price: Sandwiches, $8 to $12; salads, $8 to $14

Contact: (310) 550-8655, www.cabbagepatchbh.com

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