Sunday, August 23, 2009
My new favorite restaurant: Lemonade
Ladies and gentlemen, I recently happened upon the most amazing lemonade in the world. This is exciting news for people such as myself who, for example, recently had a spike in serotonin levels upon learning of Panera Bread's new frozen version of their famously tasty lemonade. The good news is that this vendor of the aforementioned citrus beverage also serves up really tasty food. The spot is the appropriately named Lemonade. I recently had a wonderful meal at their Venice location with my friend Canada.
The restaurant's concept is an upscale take on cafeteria-style dining. When you enter you are given a tray which you bring as you proceed through the line where people on the other side of the sneeze guard are ready to serve you. The first station is an array of cold salads, similar to the deli sides at M Cafe but there are twice as many options. You can choose from 1, 2, or 3 portions. Each portion is two scoops and you can have a scoop of two different items in that one portion if you so desire. Canada and I both opted for two portions with all different scoops. I was pleased to see that about 80% of the salads were vegan and the servers were all very knowledgeable about which contained animals products and which did not. After the salads, you encounter the sandwiches, the hot portions, the soups, and then the desserts. None of the sandwiches or the desserts are vegan, some of the soups and hot plates may have been but I was too busy staring at my colorful salad plate to notice.
At the cash register is a lemon-lover's wet dream: an array of more than five different lemonades. You can have samples of all of them and I highly suggest you do, although then you will end up like me: completely torn about which one too choose. I ended up going with peach ginger and Canada opted for blueberry mint. Both were completely out of this world. The were perfectly sweetened and the peach ginger had a delightful zing. Even if you ignore all the food, you must get your butt to Lemonade to try their signature drink.
My salad plate was made up of roasted beets with red onions and hazelnut vinaigrette, roasted cauliflower with golden raisins and a curry vinaigrette, sunchoke with fennel and mint vinaigrette, and French lentils. I gobbled all my portions up, enjoying every bite. They chefs did not skimp on the dill in the sunchoke salad which scores major points with me and the lentils were perfect--chewy, not mushy. I absolutely loved my meal.
I also had bites of Canada's quinoa, tomato and avocado, and farro salads. Again, all were wonderful. The tomato salad had big chunks of creamy avocado--it's a simple concept but made for an extremely refreshing dish.
With 3 locations around town (Venice, Downtown, and West Hollywood,) you have no excuse to not try this place out! Even if you don't try the food, the lemonade is worth a special trip.
3 L.A. locations
(Note: the website does not list the Venice location, but I promise, it exists)
1661 Abbot-Kinney Blvd.
Venice, CA 90291