04/13/2012 01:47 pm ET Updated Jun 12, 2012

M Café: Macrobiotic Nirvana

Macrobiotic cuisine is all the rage. But it can be like taking medicine. However, there's a cure for that and it is M Café.

With locations along Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills and another on Melrose Avenue at La Brea in Hollywood, the celebrity-attracting restaurant is reinventing traditional macrobiotic food as contemporary cuisine. Executive Chef Lee Gross is using locally grown, sustainable, seasonal foods and preparing them in fresh and modern ways.

Macrobiotic eating has a long, rich tradition in the East. The recipes rely on a healthy balance of properties.

"It's like remembering our intuitive knowledge," Gross says.

The spring menu is simple and many items are displayed under glass at the counter. Barley, kale and a variety of raw vegetables are being featured on the menu right now and you'll also find a prolific use of lemon. The menu currently focuses on foods that promote cleansing. Gross explains that spring-friendly foods are the blossoming result of energy building up from the dead of winter, and that energy climaxes in the summer.

The signature sandwich here is the Big Macro (I recommend adding avocado, which works perfectly with the meatless burger). This anti-Big Mac is not a vegans-/vegetarians-only sort of burger -- it is simply a good burger (the toasted bun is enough to eat on its own). The Big Macro pairs perfectly with the sweet potato fries, which are as good or better than most burger joints in town.

The salads also provide a balance of foods and flavors. The taboulleh, barley and garbanzo is a light salad, perfect for the warm days of April and May.

The black cod teriyaki rice bowl with steamed vegetables is another dish that will appeal to any palate. It's also worth noting that the seasonings here are mainstream, so there's nothing to be timid about.

The restaurant is very casual. It's common to see diners getting a post-yoga meal or a pre-bike ride fix. The patio is a great place to soak up some Vitamin A while enjoying a healthy lunch.
The parking situation at the Melrose location looks iffy from the front -- a tiny lot is perpetually log-jammed, but not to worry, there's a valet in the back and street parking in the residential neighborhood beyond.

The ancient tradition of macrobiotic eating has been seamlessly merged with a casual modern dining experience, making M Café a perfect blend of the past and present. And for that matter, maybe a glimpse into the future.