Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Tender Greens in Culver City

I went to yet another fabulous (except for one kink, see below) brand new restaurant in downtown Culver City called Tender Greens. Just across the walkway from Ford's Filling Station on Culver Blvd in between Cardiff and Watseka, tender Greens is bringing (mostly) organic fast food to Culver City. They took over half of the space formerly housing the behemoth of a restaurant called Sagebrush Cantina, turning it into a spacious and airy room, with large shuttered windows opening to the patio. They have created a slightly down home farm/country feel with pots of herbs growing outside such as parsley, chives and rosemary. The employees even wear aprons, with a strap buttoned in place across their backs resembling the suspenders on Bavarian Lederhosen.

Their menu consists of choices of "big salads", "simple salads", "hot stuff" and combinations thereof. Very reasonably priced, with meals coming in just under $10, and a wine list with glasses from $5-8, bottles from $18-30, 3 beers at $4 a glass, and $20 a pitcher. All 11 wines are available by the glass (served in thicker versions of Reidel O stemless glasses), mostly from Italy, France and California. We ordered a bottle of Vinae Italiae Pinot Grigio from Veneto for $19 - a perfectly light, crisp white for our salads.

Angus flatiron steak sandwich with baby spinach , goat cheese, hazelnuts, and cabernet vinaigrette salad

Chipotle barbecue Chicken salad

The portions were generous and quite satisfying, without stuffing us silly. The "hot stuff" menu items consist of flatiron steak, free range chicken, line-caught ahi tuna, and grilled veggies that can be ordered hot on a plate with Yukon Gold mashed potatoes and a small salad, or as a sandwich with grilled red peppers on a grilled ciabatta-like roll, with a small salad. The salads were fresh and dressed just perfectly - no greens swimming in dressing here. Although my aunt's grilled chicken cobb came without chicken...which brings us to the kinks.

Only five days old, they are still finding their groove. The first kink to be addressed should the incredibly awkward ordering system. You are supposed to place your order with the cook at the counter near the entrance, then stroll up to the register where you place your drink order (and repeat your food order to the cashier), and pick up your food to take to the table (which you carry to your table on an aluminum half sheet pans). That would work if the employees behind the counter paid any attention to the customers who walk in, standing around bewildered and confused (like us). The menu is printed on the wall next to the door, which can create a bit of a traffic jam, mixing up the order of the line. There are no "order here" signs, and the employees who are supposed to take your order are too busy feverishly preparing the food to be bothered. As soon as they can come up with a better system, the whole experience would be just about perfect. That said, we actually enjoyed our food so much we forgot about being ignored for the first couple of minutes in the restaurant.

3 comments: said...

I've been to Tender Greens several times. Some things are good, but some are not. The chicken, though "organic", is mostly dark meat and full of weird pieces I spit out in my napkin. The steak is really rare and not that good. Some of the salads are terrific, and you can special order, but everything is just a little too expensive for what you get. Most salads run $10, and it just doesn't seem worth it. Nice space, though, and the large outdoor picnic table is good for groups.

Anonymous said...

Just ate there this past week and once again, was very satisfied. I think if you've become accustomed to GIGANTIC portions at restaurants, then it's not the place for you. Otherwise, simple and plenty of good, fresh food. Also -- after many more than 5 days, the ordering system is still not that much better!

A. Donovan said...

Just ate there today. The salad was nice-- I had baby spinach with goat cheese and toasted hazelnuts topped with chicken. But they still have the same stupid ordering system. The line was out the door in the lunch rush. And two of the salads at my table went out either missing or light on ingredients. I had to hunt for the two pieces of goat cheese in my salad. All in all, eh-- I'm not so impressed.