Love Me Tender, Love Me Greens……………
Tender Greens. Don’t you just love that name? It conjures up all kinds of images in my head. Cuddly romaine, compassionate asparagus, soft-spoken spinach……..it just sounds nice and fuzzy. Wait, fuzzy greens would be gross actually, but you get what I mean. Tender Greens just makes me think of good stuff….natural, salt-of-the-earth, ecologically sound, tender……er, greens. The moment I heard the name, I knew I wanted to check it out.
Unfortunately for me, Tender Greens is on the Westside, and I’m an Eastsider. Not only do I live on the Eastside, but I love the Eastside and rarely go West for meals. Sure, J and I will head out to the beach on a nice day, or drive out to Surfas if we’re in need of any kitchen stuff (and to grab a Canelé, the Best Food on Earth), but we don’t make the drive for meals….especially meals that involve wine because we don’t want any po po’s on our tails for having a glass and driving that far. If we do eat out West, it’s usually because we’re there for another reason and we get hungry.
A couple of weeks ago we were out by Venice for…uh, I can’t remember. But when hunger struck, I squawked “Tender Greens Tender Greens!!! Must try!!! Culver City!!!” at J. Although he brought up other suggestions, I knew I had to take advantage of being on the Westside and try this much-lauded place. I tried not to yack as I googled it on my cell phone (I cannot read and be in a car or I get utterly nauseated) and pointed J in the right direction. I stuck my head out of the car window and chirped, “Tender Greens, Here We Come!” Well, not really but I did stick my head out of the window to get some air after all that cell phone googling.
We parked in the adjacent lot and got in line. Tender Greens was a nice, well-lit space with an open kitchen where all of the fresh ingredients were displayed. There is a large menu on the wall at the entrance, and upon studying it carefully, I decided on the Chipotle Barbeque Chicken Salad (romaine hearts, avocado, jack cheese, crispy tortilla strips, creamy lime dressing) while J opted for the Happy Vegan (tabbouleh, hummus, pasta pearls, farro wheat, young kale, tender greens). I had slight remorse since J’s sounded SO yummy, but I was quickly distracted by all of the cooks piling fresh ingredients onto the plates in the open kitchen. Or I guess I should say I was distracted by the fresh ingredients that the cooks were piling onto the plates- after all, it wasn’t like Adrien Brody was one of the cooks, ya know? Anyway, the line to the register is right along this open kitchen so you can see EVERYTHING…..and man, it all looked so good. Plates piled high with freshly grilled eggplant, thick slabs of ahi tuna being seared with perfect grill marks……I spent the entire 5 minutes in line going back and forth in my head about what to order, even though I had thought I knew what I wanted. Eventually I did stick to my initial choice and picked up our food. J also decided on a small cup of tomato basil soup.
We sat down and dug in. My salad was good- the romaine hearts were so sweet and, yes, tender. The chicken was moist and there was a nice, light distribution of dressing. J’s Happy Vegan, however, was the real winner. A scoop of green hummus sat next to scoops of farro, barley and greens…it was an explosion of tastes and textures. The soup was a bit too acidic and needed something to mellow it out, but the salads were killer. Next time I go, I already know I’m getting the Happy Vegan (although that ahi tuna did look insanely good). Maybe I’ll get the Happy Vegan with some ahi on the side….although I guess that would make that the Unhappy Vegan. Hmmm………..
I’d highly recommend Tender Greens for their fresh produce, good flavor combinations and, of course, tenderness.