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Roxanne's


Beachfan
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This is the article that made me vow never to eat there. I have a Masters of Science degree, I've taken 3 semesters of physiology, plus nutrition, micro, and a whole slew of research classes. I'm a trained skeptic! So take my comments knowing that I am just a bit more sensitive to these kind of claims:

"Eating plant enzymes means the body won't have to use its own limited supply, which leads to a healthier, longer life.... Harrelson was so convincing that the Kleins went to their $9 million Kauai getaway and spent a month eating raw. "We felt so good. We slept two or three hours less a night. We'd go to bed and lay awake for an hour just because we were so energized," Michael Klein says. "At the end of that month we looked at each other and said, how can we eat this way all the time?"

You see, the 9 million dollar Kauai "getaway" is what researchers refer to as a confounding variable. Translation: Who the fuck wouldn't feel more energized after a month in Kauai, especially when you are rich enough to own a 9 million dollar getaway?

Plus, my husband's a Deadhead. He says Jerry was a vegetarian for about ten minutes.

Edited for clarity, plus to say that the article does explain how she creates some of her dishes.

Edited by marie-louise (log)
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I find it amusing that when Roxanne Klein makes unsupportable claims for the efficacy of a raw vegan diet, people start getting angry, but when Dr. Atkins makes unsupportable claims for the efficacy of an a low carb diet, people raise the prices of beef by buying as many steaks as possible. I guess it all about what you want to believe.

I love cold Dinty Moore beef stew. It is like dog food! And I am like a dog.

--NeroW

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I find it amusing that when Roxanne Klein makes unsupportable claims for the efficacy of a raw vegan diet, people start getting angry, but when Dr. Atkins makes unsupportable claims for the efficacy of an a low carb diet, people raise the prices of beef by buying as many steaks as possible.  I guess it all about what you want to believe.

It's because cows taste good. People would be happy to believe that eating nothing but cheesecake would cause weight loss, because cheesecake tastes better than the diet alternatives. If raw food actually tasted better than cooked food, there would be more than a couple of places offering it. If say nuts made better tasting cheese than milk does, or coconuts made better noodles than semolina, people would be discussing how great their pasta tastes now that they are using coconuts instead of wheat, but they aren't - because it doesn't.

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The reason I want to try Roxanne's is because I'm interested in new food developments and I like having my food pre-conceptions challenged. For instance, I believe that meat tastes good and that no vegetarian restaurant could possibly satisfy me. I'm interested to see if a chef can change my mind. I see it as essentially the same reason I wouldn't turn down a chance to go to El Bulli.

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Very nice photos, Stone. Does public transportation run to Larkspur from SF? (remember, I don't drive.)

There is a bus that runs from SF and drops you off less than a block away from the restaurant. I think it takes around 90-120 minutes, but I'm not sure.

And they do use cooked maple syrup. I once asked the chef de cuisine if it was possible to make maple syrup using the dehydrators they use for the cookies, crisps, etc, and she replied, "Yeah, in about a thousand years."

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I find it amusing that when Roxanne Klein makes unsupportable claims for the efficacy of a raw vegan diet, people start getting angry, but when Dr. Atkins makes unsupportable claims for the efficacy of an a low carb diet, people raise the prices of beef by buying as many steaks as possible.  I guess it all about what you want to believe.

It's because cows taste good. People would be happy to believe that eating nothing but cheesecake would cause weight loss, because cheesecake tastes better than the diet alternatives. If raw food actually tasted better than cooked food, there would be more than a couple of places offering it. If say nuts made better tasting cheese than milk does, or coconuts made better noodles than semolina, people would be discussing how great their pasta tastes now that they are using coconuts instead of wheat, but they aren't - because it doesn't.

Melkor, you really can't make that claim till you've tried the stuff. IMO, the coconut noodles are good enough, and subtly different enough from wheat noodles, to warrant my interest. I'd buy them at the market if I could, not for health reasons, but just because I like them, and they'd make a nice change from the norm.

Roxanne may have a philosophy that people like or dislike, but I think the more interesting thing (especially for e-Gullet's purposes) is that she is an innovator.

Someone has to come up with new ideas--after all, they come from somewhere. Someone had to figure out how to make pasta from semolina, or how to use yeast to leaven bread, or how to make booze. (Not that coconut noodles are on par with those achievements, but they still taste good.)

I do agree with you, however, that it would be easier to convince people that cheescake is a viable diet food, than to get them to go for the whole raw food thing. I think it is too complex, too foreign, and too difficult for most people to buy into. Personally, I find it easier to believe that a Roxanne's style raw-food diet is better for me than atkins, based on feeling damned good after I ate the food. (Again, that aspect of it is less interesting to me than the flavor/food aspect.)

Interstingly, Roxanne gets a lot of flack from the raw extremists for serving wine, but she is just too much of a foodie to give it up. That was my take, anyway, after reading her preamble to the wine list. (The article can be found on the Roxanne's Website. You have to look under menus, then wines.)

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Melkor, you really can't make that claim till you've tried the stuff.  IMO, the coconut noodles are good enough, and subtly different enough from wheat noodles, to warrant my interest.  I'd buy them at the market if I could, not for health reasons, but just because I like them, and they'd make a nice change from the norm.

Roxanne may have a philosophy that people like or dislike, but I think the more interesting thing (especially for e-Gullet's purposes) is that she is an innovator.

Someone has to come up with new ideas--after all, they come from somewhere.  Someone had to figure out how to make pasta from semolina, or how to use yeast to leaven bread, or how to make booze.  (Not that coconut noodles are on par with those achievements, but they still taste good.)

I'm not saying her food doesn't taste good. If you had to pick between coconut noodles and semolina pasta and only eat one of them for say five years, would you honestly pick the coconut noodles? If Trotter decided to serve only boiled food for some completely random reason, people would think he went off the deep end. You wouldn't change your eating habits to only eat the same type of food Roxanne serves, so what makes it anything other than a novelty? Cotton candy and funnel cakes taste good too, but they aren't haute cuisine. Is there a single dish at Roxanne's that would compare favorably to a signature dish from another restaurant in the same price range? $250 for a deuce is the same ball park as Gary Danko and Chez Panisse, that's tough company for them to be keeping when the best praise they get is that it's different.

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If Trotter decided to serve only boiled food for some completely random reason, people would think he went off the deep end.

-----

Is there a single dish at Roxanne's that would compare favorably to a signature dish from another restaurant in the same price range? $250 for a deuce is the same ball park as Gary Danko and Chez Panisse, that's tough company for them to be keeping when the best praise they get is that it's different.

The first is a poor analogy. Roxanne's food is not just slicing vegetables and putting them on a plate. There is a huge amount of cooking involved -- it just doesn't use heat or animal products. If Trotter used boiling water as the only heating method, but still had available to him the full range of ingredients and spices, that would be a closer analogy.

As for comparing Roxanne's to haute cuisine, I think that for both Roxannes and Danko/FL/CP the diner is giving some price leeway for the labor-intensive preparation. How else could Danko/FL/CP justify their prices? All, including Roxannes, are paying top dollar for the freshest, most interesting ingredients. But you're paying a huge premium for the prep time that's necessary to raise Danko/FL/CP's ingredients to their superb level. Same with Roxanne's. Also, in my $250 bill was two half-bottles of wine. The food prices for Roxannes are cheaper than Danko, which I believe charges $54 for three courses and $75 for five. French Laundry is sui generis.

And, I would say that the carrot soup, the masala dosa/kofta, the sea vegetable salad, and the butter-lettuce salad could easily be served at any of those restaurants. After all, FL serves celeriac salad with vinegrette. It's a tiny portion of fresh vegetables in a vinegrette. I'm pretty sure that nothing on the plate has been cooked (I could be wrong of course) and people rave about it.

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I bought Trotter's and Klein's cookbook (RAW) a week or so ago when it was released here in Chicago, and did so deliberately at the signing party at Trotter's to Go, simply to have a look at (and a word with) the authors for once, and to get a sample or four of the food from the book (which CT always does offer, regardless of author).

There was no getting around the fact that the food I tasted was delicious. There also was no getting around the fact that the recipes are simpler to assemble -- requiring no long-simmered stocks, sautes, or reductions, for example -- than any I have seen in any of Trotter's previous cookbooks. I will be much interested in experimenting with some of these recipes.

Next summer, that is.

I believe that Trotter and Klein made a tactical error in doing the book's Midwestern release at the beginning of the cold gray winter, when most of our farmers' markets are closed; Klein may have wonderful local organic produce available to her 365 days a year, but we don't. What point, then, in giving us a book full of glorious eye candy (and the Tim Turner photos are superb) requiring equipment for which I don't have space or budget, and featuring a large number of trucked-in products for which I may have to pay an arm and a leg? Not happening in my kitchen right now, thanks all the same.

I went home after the signing party and cooked a risotto with mushrooms and spinach. It tasted great.

:cool:

Me, I vote for the joyride every time.

-- 2/19/2004

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  • 8 months later...

Per today's Marin Independent Journal, Roxanne's closed yesterday (Tuesday, Aug 3rd). Owners had no comment -- paper says more to follow. (This was the widely-celebrated "raw" restaurant.)

The to-go deli remains open.

I never ate there, but by all reports, the food was quite good, but a lot of work -- even more so than more traditional fine restaurants. I always thought it would be hard to maintain the necessary energy & focus to keep the place going especially because the owner/chef wasn't doing it for the money or even interested in making a profit, but almost, it seemed, because she could.

But then what do I know . . . I'll look in the paper tomorrow.

Charley Martel

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Roxannne's was effectively the nexus of the raw food movement in California, it will be interesting to see how all the other raw food restaurants and raw food pundits take in the news.

Actually I believe it was Juliano Brotman who was the nexus of the raw food movement in California. His book "RAW"

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/search-h...3128311-8251937

It was reported in Gourmet (can't find link) that Roxanne (a pastry chef), hired Juliano to live in her Tiburon mansion for a month ($40,000), and teach her his food. She then opened Roxanne's shortly after.

"Why does man kill? He kills for food. And not only food: frequently there must be a beverage."

Woody Allen

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I ate their 4 times, and liked it twice and absolutely loved it twice (one of the tmes I only liked it, I loved other peoples food).

I'm sure the reason they closed was because of how labor intensive the food was. Pricey as it was, I'm not sure they made real money. But they had techniques there that deserved to be experienced, regardless of your attitude towards fire or meat.

Edited by Beachfan (log)

beachfan

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And here is Grace Ann Walden's take on it from Thursday's SF Chronicle:

SF Chron: Roxanne Closing

The explanation makes sense to me. The "true believers" could get their fix at the deli a lot more often than at the restaurant. Raw food true believers (even those that live in Marin County), couldn't afford to eat at the restaurant that often. I think Roxanne's location really hurt as far as making up the difference. Larkspur is only 10-15 miles from downtown SF, but for a lot of city-dwellers, anything over the bridge is on the other side of the earth. Getting there from Berkeley/Oakland or the Peninsula is really a bit of a project. Marin County just doesn't have enough people to keep a fairly specialized restaurant like Roxanne's full.

Charley Martel

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  • 1 month later...

Well, the other shoe has dropped. Per today's Marin Independent Journal, the Roxanne Deli closed this week and the underlying reason for closing the restaurant and deli now appears to be because Roxanne Klein & Michael are getting divorced. Michael was the money in the restaurant and according to Roxanne, the split is preventing her from continuing even the deli. It seems like he also has some legal ability to prevent her from starting over with other investors. Sounds like some pretty tough pre-nup negotiating. Without knowing more, this doesn't seem at all fair.

Here is the column with the Roxanne item: Marin IJ 9-22-2004

There are a lot of comments in this thread speculating on why Roxanne closed (mine included) that assumed it was because of the food or lack of market support. Looks like the story is more pedestrian and, I think, sadder.

Charley Martel

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There are a lot of comments in this thread speculating on why Roxanne closed (mine included) that assumed it was because of the food or lack of market support.  Looks like the story is more pedestrian and, I think, sadder.

That is unfortunate, but even one person I spoke with shortly after who was very close to the restaurant said the restaurant closed because of the business being taken away by the deli. Of course, he might've been giving the party line to protect the Kleins' privacy.

It's a shame to see them go. I think the raw philosophy is a bunch of hooey, personally, but I was surprised by how much I liked the food. I thought it showed a lot of creativity (as cooking with severe constraints often does).

Derrick Schneider

My blog: http://www.obsessionwithfood.com

You have to eat. You might as well enjoy it!

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There are a lot of comments in this thread speculating on why Roxanne closed (mine included) that assumed it was because of the food or lack of market support.  Looks like the story is more pedestrian and, I think, sadder.

Especially after a 212 year run.

In a sad finale to the story that broke in this column last month, Roxanne's To Go in Larkspur shut down last week. The closure of the raw food deli signals the end of the unique 212-year reign of haute raw cuisine that restaurateurs Michael and Roxanne Klein brought to Marin.
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