For me, Axe is the singular vision of what a restaurant should be.
At the end of the day, food and the business of feeding people are really just that: a business. But when there is love involved in the process and a commitment to making the eating experience something special, then the money making venture is elevated to a higher level.
Axe's chef-owner, Joanna Moore sources all her produce locally and prepares it on your plate so right it becomes an eating experience I find incomparable.
Like Alice Waters and Chez Panisse, Axe continues in the same vein, powered by a menu that represents local farmers and shows respect to Mother Earth. Moore calls her offerings “soul food from California that nourishes both the body and the spirit.”
For lunch, you can compose your own salad plate with mixed baby greens and various sides ($4 each item), ranging from beets and avocado to French lentils and hummus. The soups bring you back to your youth: spicy chicken soup, puree of vegetable and lentil sausage are among the choices.
I have been reminded of long lost memories sipping Axe's cauliflower, leek, pepper and broccoli soups. The bread that accompanies your bowl is baked with love, and you can taste it.
Other Bowl choices in addition to soups are Aglio Olio Pasta with garlic and chili flakes and what Axe labels the “Basic Rice Bowl:” where you can add bean sprouts, carrot, cucumber, onion, radicchio, peanuts, basil and/or mint. Salmon, chicken, tofu and hard cooked egg are extra.
Their lone sandwich is Grilled Swiss Gruyere with Tomato. For a lil' Prosciutto, add $2.
For dinner, Axe serves up Porterhouse Porkchops with Apple Cider Reduction, Half Roasted Herb Marinated Free Range Chicken and New York Steak with Chimichuri Sauce. You can also opt for little dishes like Seared Sake Marinated Filet of Beef, Soy Braised Beef Shortribs or a Shrimp Squid Scallion Pa-Jeun Pancake. The Persian Sean Stew Sabzi and Lamb Couscous are both awesome.
The desserts are definitely worth sampling. They have homemade ice cream, in vanilla, mint, ginger, cardamom and various other daily flavors, bread pudding and chocolate brownie pudding, not to mention their daily selection of cookies and bars.
I have overheard people exclaim post-meal that they are addicted to Axe! Every neighborhood needs a restaurant like this.
The physical space is a simple white, unadorned room constructed of congona and black acacia woods fronted by big windows. Atmospheric music plays low in the background.
There are a few communal tables and a counter that looks into an open kitchen that provides a simple theater of men preparing food. It can be romantic or family style, whichever you prefer.
What we eat is how we feel, and Axe makes you feel good. It's that simple!
I hate to see this place get anymore popular because the wait will be even longer on weekends for nine-grain pancakes and eggs with veggies. But, as the saying goes, heaven can wait.
For more information, visit www.axerestaurant.com.