Somehow time has gotten away from me. The other day I glanced at the calendar and had an epic moment of realization - summer (and therefore, beach season) is just around the corner. And I am nowhere near ready. As a result, lately I've committed myself to working out on the regular, and attempting to eat right. The first thing is no problem - I actually enjoy being active. The second thing...well, eating healthy can pose a bit of a issue when you write a food blog. So you can imagine my delight when Mark and I had a really great experience at Tender Greens, a Southern California chain committed to serving healthy, organic food.
Mark and I wandered over to the West Hollywood branch one evening after my spinning class, and were happy to see how that location really embraces its neighborhood - poignant photos depicting scenes of gay and lesbian activism adorn the walls in the brightly lit and colorful dining room. And the importance that Tender Greens places on community is echoed in the friendly and helpful service.
Once you enter the cafeteria-style line, you have a choice of one of a dozen tasty "Big Salads," a variety of soups, or "Hot Stuff From The Grill" (which you can order either as a hot plate, with a side of Yukon Gold mashed potatoes and a small side salad, or as a sandwich on ciabatta bread with a side salad). I ordered the steak salad (below), which was heaped with hefty strips of beef cooked rare, red and green butter lettuce, slices of radish, and red and gold beets, and dressed very lightly with a kicky horseradish vinaigrette. I was surprised at how filling the salad was, and how tasty.
Mark went with a grill item, the salt and pepper chicken (below), and selected a salad of baby spinach, hazelnuts, goat cheese and a cabernet vinaigrette. While he probably wouldn't have turned down a couple more strips of chicken, the meat he did have was really tender and juicy, and pretty flavorful.
One of the really wonderful touches offered by Tender Grees that sets it apart from a typical chain is its small but impressive selection of artisanal wine and craft beer. While it wasn't quite in keeping with our "eat healthy" mission for the night, we put back a Strand Atticus IPA and an Eagle Rock Manifesto Wheat Ale with our meal. For dessert, Mark scarfed down a pretty decent frosted carrot cupcake.
And the kicker (for the really health conscious diner)? The Tender Greens website offers an application where you check off what you ordered and it calculates the total calories for your meal. While we're never gonna completely give up our decadent meals, Tender Greens is definitely going on the regular rotation for us. At least until the fall...