Monday, July 13, 2009

Mini Foodventure #128: Tender Greens (West Hollywood)

Having some time to kill between picking up a friend at LAX and a wine & cocktail meetup with fellow BloggerProm committee members Esther, Tara and Caroline -- I decided to check out West Hollywood's Tender Greens for a quick, healthy and (hopefully) tasty bite.

For 9:30p on a Wednesday, the place was pretty packed with a diverse WeHo crowd, from older couples mellowing out with their meals and a glass of wines to younger peeps decked out in club gear wolfing down their sandwiches vacuum-cleaner style. It was also quite funny hearing the gay couples in line scanning the menu, then moan and whine about what's fattening and carb-loaded. But hey, kudos to them for their nutrition discipline, even if it looks like they'll be downing 2-for-1 shots and crazy-colored vodka-tinis later in the night.

The menu is pretty simple, primarily the three Ss - soups, salads and sandwiches - with a few entrees and daily specials thrown in, all pretty reasonably priced with nothing over $11. After I scanned the menu, I opted for their $10.50 flatiron steak salad with red & green butter lettuces, radishes, red and gold beets and horseradish vinaigrette (got on the side), a pretty light and simple salad with some protein to help me power through my strength workout later in the day. Oh yea, and a $4 strawberry tart (it was on their daily special menu; how can I possibly resist? could be gone tomorrow!!!)

After moving cattle-line style from the ordering section, down the foodprep line to the pickup and finally the cashier (within five minutes!) I paid and plopped onto a patio table for my salad and sweet.
I have mixed feelings about the salad; nothing was bad per se, in fact, the veggies tasted very fresh (sweet beets, radishes with nice pepper bite, crunchy lettuces) and the meat was juicy-tender -- but it seemed haphazardously prepared and assembled, the lettuce were too wet and could've been chopped or ripped into smaller pieces (with quarter heads practically intact, it was almost like a wedge salad on my plate) and it seemed all the ingredients kind of clumped together on their own, so it was hard to get a little of everything on my fork, and it just felt weird having to go at a salad with a knife!

The dressing was a little bit watery too and could use a bigger horseradish kick, though maybe it's a dressing meant to be tossed with the salad rather than dipped into.

The strawberry tart made up for it though, lighter and less sweet than most strawberry pie/tarts, it had a nice shortbread crust, juicy strawberry slices and just thin smear of custard and glaze. Just enough to satisfy my craving without inducing guilt.

Despite the recklessly made salad, I'm fairly sure I'll be back esp. when looking for eats in the WeHo 'hood, since it seems to have the potential to walk that fine line between tasty, budget-friendly and healthy (as opposed to the rest of the neighborhood's eats, which seems to be polarized camps of either the heart attack-inducing or health-food-gross or just plain overpriced.) So crossing fingers for a knife-free salad next time.

Tender Greens
8759 Santa Monica Blvd
West Hollywood, CA
(310) 358-1919


weezermonkey said...

Every time I go to Culver City, I briefly contemplate trying the Tender Greens, but I just can't resist its complete opposite, Honey's Kettle.

Gib Wallis said...

Hi, my friend just sent me your post.

I'm writing from Tender Greens at the moment!

I had the exact salad today that you had yesterday.

I'm not a huge horseradish fan, so I found the subtle taste better in real life than I thought it would be from the description. I liked it tossed with the salad.

I totally agree with you on the size of the lettuce -- I found myself forking a piece and seeing it was almost as long as a blanket -- so it was a little unwieldy and I'm a lazy salad person, so I don't like cutting the salad.

H. C. said...

@weezermonkey ha! I have yet to visit Honey's, actually -- always a bit intimidated by their infamous wait times.

@Gib, yea -- given how watery and subtle the dressing was, I wish I had it tossed in too (thought it'd be a thicker, more intense thing.)

I'll raise my fork to our salad laziness!

Diana said...

Knives are meant for steaks, NOT salads.

Glad you at least enjoyed the tart!

Exile Kiss said...

Hi H.C.,

Thanks for the report on this place. I've been meaning to go for a while, but something always comes up. Hope all is well! :)

Kilroyrogers said...

I ordered for my office- appx 20 people- for pick up and it was all fresh and tasty, if not modest in portion.
Yes, the salads were generally wedges and not cut up bite size- maybe that's why chopped salads rule this town!

Aaron said...

Haha, nice commentary about the clubbers in attendance. I always find Tender Greens too crowded, but I suppose the line moves fast

Kirby! said...

I'm with you on this one. Last September, I went to the Tender Greens in Culver City and was thoroughly underwhelmed (you can see the review on my blog for more deets). I don't get why everyone is so gaga over it. Probably because Angelenos love their salads. I mean, I like salad too, but come on.

H. C. said...

@kilroyrogers I actually don't mind the large portions, veggies' healthy stuff and the dressing don't seem to heavy. But yea, those wedges got to me.

@Aaron yea, which is why I'm willing to give it a second go at some future time. Sounds like a good spot for a fasty, fairly healthy and cheap eats.

@Kirby yea, salads one of those things where I think "It's so easy! How *can* you fail?" Oh, naive lil me.


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