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The Blaq Square Softly Opens on Cinema Drive

Three weeks ago The Blaq Square was but a dream, but sometimes a space becomes available and you have to go for it. And that is exactly what The Blaq Square collective/family/partners did, transforming the vacant Pizza del Sardo space into what it is today.

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There are a few more steps in store for the crew, but that will come in time. For now the space looks like a cafe, with flexible seating (and traditional tables as well). In time they will be expanding into the space next door where they will be able to offer classes and more seating. Also in the plans? A second location in Stevenson Ranch that will cater more to the take out and delivery crowd (and CalArts students), aptly called The Blaq Squared (get it!), but that is a few months down the road.

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For now, The Blaq Square has a Vegan/Gluten Free/Omnivore menu that can appeal to anyone. A place where vegans can dine amongst carnivores, and if memory serves there is a 50/50 mix on the menu. The menu is simple for now, consisting of appetizers, salads, pizzas, burgers, and shakes, but trust me, there are some good choices on the menu. In January the menu will change, and of course it will change with the seasons as well. The partners are committed to using only the best ingredients, and it shows.

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The avocado toast ($10) is three pieces of focaccia (baked in the oven they inherited from Pizza del Sardo) topped with garlic butter, smashed avocado, cherry tomatoes, and micro greens. AvoToast is really trendy right now, but I liked this one. I’m not big on the sake of using edible flowers just to make something look cute, but in this case, it worked.

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The Porq is braised and lightly crisped pork belly, sweet & spicy chili sauce, served over cauliflower cream, and spiced greens. At first I was weary of the cauliflower cream but soon I devoured it with the greens and enjoyed it. The pork belly was luscious and had just the right amount of sweetness. We really liked it.

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We ordered hand cut fries (3.50) and they were great, plus we liked the presentation. They also have house made chips, which I’ll be sure to try next time.

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These are the bayou bacon sliders ($8) composed of 3x garlic aioli, thick cut apple smoked bacon (perfection), cajun style shrimp (awesome), fresh arugula, garlic butter, and pickled veggies. We really enjoyed these sliders and I wouldn’t hesitate in ordering them again.

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While we waited for our food, I noticed tea available to sample. It was hibiscus that had been sweetened with agave. I really liked it a lot. Mainly because I love hibiscus and I love agave.

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From what I gather, this place is focused on organic quality ingredients, and they have 8 super food shakes on the menu. They have some with cold brew (wake & bake), others with chocolate, but the one that I had was the strawberry cream, composed of cashew milk, strawberries, light agave, and scraped Tahitian vanilla bean. Not only did it look beautiful (like Pinterest-worthy) but it was AMAZING. I love shakes, I love smoothies, but this was some next level stuff.

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I spoke to the general manager, Brad Slaughter (that’s his real name), and he told me that they really want to be a part of the community. They want to give off a cool vibe, a place to hang out, get work done, and not just a formal restaurant. Hence the seating configuration. There are traditional tables, an arm chair, booths, etc. That’s what I meant by flexible seating earlier. And although I opted for a traditional table today, that picnic table looks tempting for next time with friends. And for those that enjoyed the pizza from Pizza del Sardo, they did keep some of the best pizzas on the menu (plus they still have that sweet oven).

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They are always working with the dance studio in the same shopping center to provide lunch boxes and treats for the dancers who practice up to 5 hours a day (I bet those healthy shakes come in handy). In the future they hope to be a real part of the community, and they want to be around a long time.

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What you see now is a soft opening menu. For now, treat December as their soft opening month, and the next phase will be ready come January. They are open to feedback and constructive criticism, but what really impressed me was the positive vibes and enthusiasm coming from the GM. I liked this place. The only thing missing, honestly? What would possibly add to the vibe and make it feel more like a restaurant is…CUSTOMERS! So definitely go check it out. Tomorrow they are having their grand opening, and offering a free drink and a free appetizer with purchase from 5-11pm. It is a great time to give this place a try.

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In a few days they will be adding lights and forming a lovely outdoor patio. A patio that is lined by fresh herbs that they are growing for use at the restaurant. Do you think they’ll notice if I take some basil to go? Haha.

The place is cool…a bit different in terms of decor, but I know that if it were packed and with the patio lights, it could be one more place on the rotation to enjoy a nice meal. They are open 11am-10pm, I enjoyed it. I hope you will too. They are finalizing their liquor license, and in the future will have 25 different selections of craft beer and they’ll carry all natural soda. This is a high glucose corn syrup free zone.

The Blaq Square is located at 23460 Cinema Dr Suite A in Valencia.