Greenspan’s Grilled Cheese Serving Up Classics and Much More

The Classic with Tomato Basil Dip

As April and thus, National Grilled Cheese Month, comes to a close, I have come to realize that: 1) This classic sandwich needs no one to vouch for its deliciousness the rest of the year, and 2) Who has time to keep track of the celebratory day or month of every food in existence, anyway? (Oh right: Thank you, PR pitches.)

After all, the sandwich has had its own Invitational here for years on end, to somewhat sadly conclude this year as we food enthusiasts find other foods and combinations of food to fawn over. But let’s not forget that as there have been multiple storefronts dedicated to cupcakes and only cupcakes, for a very long time, dedicated grilled cheese slingers has also become a thing.

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The Corner Door Raises the Bar in Culver City with Fall Menu

Roasted Squash Salad & Burrata, Cured Egg Yolk

I can’t be sure what exactly I was expecting out of The Corner Door in Culver City, but I guess it should be known that one of the few things worth traveling to that quandrant for – in my opinion – was ramen, Rutt’s and Roy Choi (even then, I’d still point out that Roy grew up on the eastside of Los Angeles). There have been new restaurants springing up lately, but in a lot of ways, they were neighborhood stops. It seems The Corner Door has found a great balance between being that neighborhood place, and in a lot of ways is heading towards existing as a destination. When you have great food and inspiring cocktails, that’s just what tends to happen.

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Greenleaf Chopshop Rolls Out Discounts on 3rd Anniversary

Zorra the Great Salad

As much as I am skeptical of some food trends – for instance, I don’t get the mindless love for cupcakes while I totally relate to the on-going bacon craze - there are some upshots that I can get behind. For instance, this fast-casual-and-healthy thing: I actually hope that it’s a pattern that turns out to be longer lasting than a fad. After all, we can only hope it’s an indication that we as an audience are becoming more aware of eating in a healthful way – nothing but good can become of it, right? And when it’s presented in ways that taste delicious, it’s proof that healthful doesn’t have to be boring.

Anti-Oxidant Orchard Salad

I was recently introduced to Greenleaf Gourmet Chopshop, which is currently in Beverly Hills and Century City and serving clientele from boutiques, law offices, accounting & consulting firms alike on the east-of-Westside. They also serve wine and beer, which come complete with pairing suggestions. Talk about a delicious lunch or take-home salad. The head chef is from the Patina family, so you know they’re not kidding around when they call this chopshop “gourmet.”

The good news is, they’ve stuck around for 3 years and to celebrate their anniversary, they’re rolling out some discounts starting now through this Saturday, June 4th. You get 10% off on your 1st visit, while working your way up in 5%-off increments to 30% off your in-store meal on their 5th visit (no more than 2 visits per day for discounts). And, on Saturday, you can also look forward to 30% off all meals at the Beverly Hills location. And about that beer and wine - imbibers can also enjoy 50% off beer and wine selections all-week-long, including an organic Alma Rosa Chardonnay (regularly $8/32), Talbot Kali Hart Pinot Noir ($9/34), and Lost Coast Great White Ale ($3.50).

Lemongrass Chicken

Got a couple buddies? Bring two “green” newcomers to dine in a “3Some” (kinky) and if you each purchase a salad or entrée, you’ll receive your choice of a complimentary bottle of housemade salad dressing or handcrafted dessert for the table. Options include Owner & “Commander in Leaf” Jonathan Rollo’s signature Citrus Basil Vinaigrette, Corporate Chef Kristi Ritchey’s “Grandma Nancy’s Chocolate Chip Cookies,” and “Carrots Are Good for You” Carrot Cake.

My personal favorite is the Greek-esque “Zorra the Great” salad, which has a good amount of kick thanks to the peppercorns in the dressing. If you’re looking for something naturally sweet, try “The Antioxidant Orchard.” Feeling like a refreshing salad topped with coconut and other tropical flavors? Try the “Lemongrass Chicken” – probably my second-most favorite. 

So if you’re near Beverly Hills or Century City, enjoy a salad, panini, sandwich and/or soup with a glass of beer or wine for lunch this week. Greenleaf’s menu is not only health-conscious but creatively and utterly delicious. Enjoy!

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Order online

Mon – Fri

11 AM – 6 PM

Sat

11 AM – 4 PM

Greenleaf Gourmet Chopshop
9671 Wilshire Blvd.
Beverly Hills, CA 90212
310.246.0756

Mon – Fri

10:30 AM – 6 PM

1888 Century Park East
Los Angeles, CA 90067
424.239.8700

Tender Greens Offers More Than Just Fast-Casual Salads

Slow Cooked Beef Short Ribs Stew, Rainbow Carrots, Fingerling Potato, Celery, Onion ($10.50)

Tender Greens has not only been open for awhile, they’ve been rapidly expanding all over Southern California with each location employing unique, add-on menus onto a solid, base selection of salads, sandwiches and hot plates. And though they are filed under the “fast-casual” column that has been touted as a 2011 food trend, Tender Greens operates with all the sensibilities of a stand-alone rather than a chain. Or worse – a fad.

Happy Vegan Salad ($10.50)

I love having Tender Greens near my place as a healthy option should I run out of goods in my refrigerator. Their produce, sourced from Scarborough Farms, is as fresh (not so tender) as any you’ll find at a sit-down restaurant, though at Tender Greens you’ll appreciate the easy way of placing your order at the beginning of line, to pick your order up (and/or a number for the remainder) as you reach the cash register with a minimal wait. Consider it an upscale cafeteria. I like the no-nonsense, and since it saves a few bucks off my check while I can get some solid nourishment, I know what I came for.

On to the “add-on” specials being offered at each location. In West Hollywood, they’re offering one-pots that change daily. I had the opportunity awhile back to try the roast of the day, a slow-cooked beef ribs stew, and devour it I did. It’s a great way to mix the menu up should you feel like deviating from the trusty Happy Vegan (with farro wheat with cranberry, green hummus tabbouleh, hazelnuts quinoa with cucumber and beets and lettuce) – my favorite salad here despite my lack of vegan status. I’m always smitten when the healthiest item on the menu also happens to be the dish I love.

Aztec Brownie ($3)

So go to Tender Greens in West Hollywood and get your one pot on. See what’s in store for the day. Or, if you’re feeling like fitting them  into your warmer weekend calendar – or are just looking for a good excuse to partake in a whole animal roast – schedule Tender Greens Hollywood for the last Sunday of the month beginning April 24th (Easter).

In a special event spearheaded by avid home brewer, Chef Eric Hulme, Tender Greens will welcome Tustin Brewing Company into the space on Sunday, April 24th and together they will be cooking up a whole roasted lamb in the restaurant’s caja china – a Cuban roasting box. For $35 per person, you’ll get to enjoy your Whole Lamb Roast with sauces and sides, beer and dessert on the back patio of the Hollywood location. It also includes tax. Reservations are required, so be sure to contact [email protected] to claim your spot.

With plenty of selections on the menu that aren’t just healthy – they’re also delicious - and even special events and items at the individual locations, everyone should experience Tender Greens at least once. Easter is a great opportunity, but I’m pretty sure I’ll be by beforehand since it’s a neighborhood staple. (In case you were wondering, the Aztec Brownie is a solid dessert choice which masquerades as a flourless chocolate cake – it’s good.)

All food and drink were hosted.

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One-pots available in WeHo

Tender Greens
8759 Santa Monica Blvd.
West Hollywood, CA 90069
310.358.1919

Whole lamb roast in Hollywood: Sunday, April 24th, 2011 from 5 – 9 PM

Whole animal roasts every last Sunday for Spring and Summer

Tender Greens
6290 W. Sunset Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90028
323.382.0380

Newly Re-Opened Mäni’s on Maple Launches $6 Happy Hour

Fresh Lime Daquiri

There’s a new cocktail bar and eatery on Maple Drive in Beverly Hills, and the employees of MySpace and surrounding internet biz office buildings are rejoicing. Valerie of Red Vines for Breakfast, Daniel of Thirsty in LA and I had the opportunity to take a sneak peak at what exactly the new cocktail program and newly-relocated kitchen at Mäni’s on Maple were up to – and I have to admit, I was completely surprised. Though I never became familiar with Mäni’s on Fairfax – except for perhaps a late-night cappuccino with a friend – it seems, save for the healthful cuisine angle, there is something completely different going on at their location in Beverly Hills.

Now at the site of Patina’s failed sushi experiment, Paperfish (even with its interior intact), Mäni’s is huge. And now they serve cocktails. From 3-7 and 9-11, a selection from the cocktail and appetizers menu will run only $6 each. Organic and house-made ingredients are touted, and rightfully so as whatever is sweet about the drinks is subtle and natural. Of the happy hour options, my favorites were the Daquiri and Ward 8. The bites are also solid, and of all the available bites in front of me I found myself coming back to the vibrant Heirloom Tomato Bruschetta again and again.

    Padre's Margarita
  • Bees Knees – Fresh lemon & honey with gin. A prohibition era cocktail named after a popular saying, meaning “The Height of Excellence.”
  • Fresh Lime Daiquiri – Not the blended version so often found, this is a classic, straight-up cocktail invented outside the United States.
  • Ward Eight – Classic cocktail out of Boston, named after a famed election district. House made organic grenadine, lemon & a touch of orange with bourbon.
  • Moscow Mule – A mixture of ginger, Smirnoff and lime created in 1941 at the Cock’n Bull Bar on the Sunset Strip. A classic.
  • Padre’s Margarita – A classic, on-the-rocks margarita with a cinnamon stick, no salt.
  • Classic Pimm’s Cup – Wimbledon classic with Pimm’s No. 1 – a gin flavored with fruits & herbs – ginger ale or lemon-lime soda and cucumber.
  • Gin Rickey or Original Gin Rickey – Named after famed lobbyist Joe Rickey in 1893, the Rickey’s defining characteristic is the refreshingly tart omission of sugar. The original, and the more modern with a touch of sweetness, both come up with a splash of soda.
  • Splash & Dash – Pick a spirit & a mixer: Vodka Soda, Rum & Cola, Gin & Tonic…

Six Dollar Small Plate Specials:

    Slow Roasted Salmon Salad
  • Heirloom Tomato Bruschetta – Red Onion, Basil, Garlic, White Balsamic, Olive Oil
  • Olive Oil Poached Tuna Salad – Fennel, Cherry Tomatoes, Olives, White Balsamic Vinaigrette
  • Slow Roasted Salmon Salad – Farmers’ Market Peaches, Bleu Cheese, Greens, Seasonal Vinaigrette
  • Ceviche – Market Fish, Mango, Cucumber, Red Onion, Jalapeno, Mint, Cilantro, Chips
  • Arugula Salad With Beef Tenderloin – Warm Feta, Aged Balsamic Vinaigrette
  • Charmoula Marinated Skewers with Whole Wheat Pita – Tofu with Butternut Squash OR Beef with Yoghurt Mint Sauce
  • Sliders – Grain/Nut, Moroccan Lamb, BBQ Short Rib, Turkey, or Beef

The new Mäni’s is worth checking out – especially if you’re local during rush hour or late night and can take advantage of the $6 happy hour. It’s a good chance to give their cocktail program a shot. The drinks would surprise you and won’t leave you with that sugar crash when it’s time to go home. The produce in the bites are fresh and it’s a great way to catch that light bite.

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$6 Happy Hour:

Monday – Friday

3 -7 PM & 9 – 11 PM

Mäni’s on Maple
345 N. Maple Drive
Beverly Hills, CA 90210

Choppe Choppe Culver City: Quality Lunch on the Go & on the Cheap

Edamame Sandwich (Vegetarian)

Let’s say you worked in Downtown Culver City and were looking for a slam-dunk lunch option. It may be deceiving to the prejudiced eye (a sandwich for lunch, again?) but what if you knew the options at this product-centric lunch spot included La Brea Bakery bread? That a lot of the recipes actually have an unexpected kick in taste thanks to its chef-driven fare and quality ingredients?

You can get a variety of taste combinations in either a salad, wrap (regular or spinach tortilla) or sandwich (with that famed bread). And the soups are also solid, to boot. Try their heavenly mushroom brie or classic tomato basil. The Edamame recipe features a delicious, spicy pesto made with the legume. I find myself hardly missing the meat, which is great since I’m certainly getting the protein and the pesto itself provides a really good flavor.

Oxbow Sandwich (Rib Eye)

The ribeye in the Oxbow sandwich was perfect – not too well-cooked and had a decent amount of pink. The surprise in this was the touch of sweet coming from the truffle honey spread. Delicious.

California Curry in Spinach Wrap

Some of the sandwiches are carried over by chef owner Jeff Price from Skratch but I tried about half of them and all the recipes and ingredients were solid. You can even get an Americanized banh mi sandwich or wrap, but you can rest assured the pork itself is good. The California curry and Waldorf are similar – especially with chicken - but you’ll find grapes in the former and cranberries in the latter.

The focus of Choppe Choppe is convenience, good product and ingredients at a reasonable price point – that is, $6.95 or $7.95 for a sandwich or wrap; soups and side salads are $2-3 each. People don’t come for the table service (because you won’t get any) and everything comes wrapped in paper – going more for a uniform recycling-minded business model rather than a conservation-minded one. It’s right across from the Sony Pictures lot, so they have a loyal following carried forward from Skratch. But maybe for Choppe Choppe alone, I wouldn’t mind knowing I could get such a satisfying lunch in Downtown Culver City at a below-$10 price point.

Right now, Jeff is also finalizing a dinner menu while making a few final tweaks to the recipes. Soon, Culver City diners will also have a Choppe Choppe dinner menu at their disposal, too.

All food was hosted.

Menu

Open daily
10:30 AM – 8:30 PM

Free parking in adjacent lot (in back)

Choppe Choppe (formerly Skratch)
3867 Hughes Ave.
Culver City, CA 90232
310.558.3400‎

@choppechoppe

Pitfire Pizza Brings Delicious Artisan Pies West

Burrata Pie

Edit (1/22/10): Eater LA reports that due to the rain, the opening has been postponed to January 30 (or even later)!!

Set to officially open on January 23, 2010 is the 4th installment of Pitfire Pizza, featuring artisan pizzas hand-crafted with the freshest, finest ingredients – some of which are grown in their very own garden out front.

I arrive at the soft opening unsure if I’m in the right place at all (part of it is still under construction) but still felt drawn to the warm glow of the space. First of all, the address says Culver City, but I Google map the address to find it’s south of Santa Monica Airport. Er? Good thing I spot Diana Takes a Bite. And then as I enter, I eye lucious vegetable and salad plates on the table, ready for absorption. Zing.

Pitfire Chicken Salad

The chicken salad ($10.95) was delicious as was the Farmers Market Roasted Vegetables ($9.95) – which were done to a perfect tenderness. The brussels sprouts were still firm and the seasoning was subtle and complimentary. Another favorite was the cauliflower, which came with mild red pepper and a light dusting of crumb. Get these vegetables.

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M Café: Accessible Macrobiotics & Plain Deliciousness

Kale with spicy peanut sauce, Scarlet quinoa, Lentil salad

All good things – that require discipline – come to an end. That is, in my case, anyway; I had dabbled in Macrobiotics all but a week a few years ago before deciding that my palate wasn’t committed and my budget wasn’t copious. It’s not as if I didn’t agree with the basic theories behind the philosophy – as opposed to the new-ish fad diets such as Atkins or South Beach. Yin and yang, salt and sweet. Good and nightshade grains. Macrobiotics, no doubt, introduced me to my affinity to quinoa – even if it took some acclimation in the beginning.

Enter that one-off shopping trip I had made to Erewhon way back when. I had spent $100 yet when I got home, it seemed as though I had barely bought anything at all. My yoga teacher and friend Hillary had confessed to me that her financial planner had stressed that she and her husband “must spend less on food” – and they were the most hardcore advocates of M Café I had ever known.

Organic cut-fries with nori, shiso & sea salt

The good news is that M Café – starting with the Beverly Hills location – has made a recent effort to meet the affordable price points of today’s healthful vegan and macro-foodie. What’s undoubtedly a response to the market of today, menu items on average came down by $2-3; Javier of Teenage Glutster and I were invited to sample the goods of their new, accessible “Little m” menu.

First of all, I cannot sing enough praises about their organic fries. I am actually thinking they are the best “salted” fries in the city – with a mixture of nori (seaweed), shiso and sea salt and simultaneously not tasting nearly as salty as any other fries I’ve ever had before. Perfectly crispy and perfectly sized, it was truly a revelation. The sweet potato fries are also perfectly seasoned with chili, sea salt and lime. If you’re into the sauce thing, the beet-red organic ketchup is impressive as is the spicy yuzu mayo. The great thing about the fry selection is that M Café stays true to the original while making an effort to put an imaginative spin on things given the Macrobiotic requirements.

The focus of our lunch was the deli salads (title picture) that are available at M, which also happens to be how most diners enjoy the restaurant during the day. Depending on availability, you can get a 2 serving selection for $7.45 or a 3 serving selection for $9.75. There wasn’t a salad I wasn’t impressed with. Fresh kale was perfectly seasoned and dressed, the scarlet quinoa had such a unique flavor that was appetizing yet didn’t hide the taste of the grain. The lentil salad was deliciously hearty and the salmon salad tasted fresh and had good bite (thanks to the perfect amount of celery) with a good, “creamy” consistency.

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