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.
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.
As much as I am skeptical of someÂ food trendsÂ – for instance, I don’t getÂ the mindless love for cupcakes while IÂ totally relate to the on-going baconÂ craze -Â 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 beÂ longer lasting than a fad. After all, we can only hope it’s an indication thatÂ we as an audience are becoming moreÂ aware of eating in a healthful way – nothing but good can become of it, right?Â And when it’s presented in ways that taste delicious, it’s proof that healthful doesn’t have to be boring.
I was recently introduced to Greenleaf Gourmet Chopshop, which is currently in Beverly Hills and Century City andÂ 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 getÂ 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 -Â 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).
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.Â
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 utterlyÂ delicious. Enjoy!
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.
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 pickÂ your orderÂ up (and/or a number for the remainder)Â as you reach the cash register with a minimal wait. Consider it anÂ 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,Â aÂ 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 saladÂ here despite my lack of veganÂ status. I’m always smitten when the healthiest item on the menu also happens to be the dish I love.
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 fittingÂ them Â into your warmer weekend calendar – or are just looking for a good excuse to partake in a whole animal roast – schedule Tender Greens HollywoodÂ for the lastÂ 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 getÂ to enjoy yourÂ 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 -Â 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.
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
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 MÃ¤ni’s on Maple were up to – and I have to admit, I was completely surprised. Though I never became familiar with MÃ¤ni’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), MÃ¤ni’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 andÂ 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.
Bees Knees â€“ Fresh lemon & honey with gin. A prohibition era cocktail named after a popular saying, meaning â€œThe Height of Excellence.â€
Fresh Lime Daiquiri â€“ Not the blended version so often found, this is a classic, straight-up cocktail invented outside the United States.
Ward Eight â€“ Classic cocktail out of Boston, named after a famed election district. House made organic grenadine, lemon & a touch of orange with bourbon.
Moscow Mule â€“ A mixture of ginger, Smirnoff and lime created in 1941 at the Cockâ€™n Bull Bar on the Sunset Strip. A classic.
Padreâ€™s Margarita â€“ A classic, on-the-rocks margarita with a cinnamon stick, no salt.
Classic Pimmâ€™s Cup â€“ Wimbledon classic with Pimmâ€™s No. 1 â€“ a gin flavored with fruits & herbs â€“ ginger ale or lemon-lime soda and cucumber.
Gin RickeyÂ or Original Gin Rickey â€“ Named after famed lobbyist Joe Rickey in 1893, the Rickeyâ€™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 â€“ Pick a spirit & a mixer: Vodka Soda, Rum & Cola, Gin & Tonicâ€¦
Charmoula Marinated Skewers with Whole Wheat Pita â€“ Tofu with Butternut Squash OR Beef with Yoghurt Mint Sauce
Sliders â€“ Grain/Nut, Moroccan Lamb, BBQ Short Rib, Turkey, or Beef
The new MÃ¤ni’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.
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 spotÂ 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.
The ribeye in the Oxbow sandwich was perfect – not too well-cooked and had a decent amount of pink. The surprise in this wasÂ the touch of sweet coming from the truffle honey spread. Delicious.
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 -Â 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-mindedÂ business model rather thanÂ aÂ 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 alsoÂ finalizing aÂ dinner menu while making a few final tweaks to the recipes. Soon, Culver City diners willÂ also have a Choppe Choppe dinner menu at their disposal, too.
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.
The chicken salad ($10.95) was delicious as was the Farmers Market Roasted Vegetables ($9.95)Â – 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 redÂ pepper and a light dusting of crumb. Get these vegetables.
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 withÂ 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.
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 andÂ had good bite (thanks to the perfect amount of celery)Â with a good, “creamy” consistency.