Tuesday, August 26, 2014
Uber wants to take over the world and as part of this continued march toward global domination they're test running a new program called, Uber Fresh, in Santa Monica. Starting today, August 26th and ending Friday, September 5th (excluding the weekend and Labor Day), Santa Monica Uber users can order lunch via their Uber app and have the meal at their doorstep/office building/beach chair in around ten minutes. Each day UberFresh will feature a pre-selected meal from a popular SM restaurant available from 11:30 am - 2:30 pm for a paltry $12 (which includes any delivery and tipping charges as well).
Restaurants include Tender Greens and Bay Cities (The Godmother to my front door has long been a day dream of mine...). And every meal comes with a Caramel Pretzel-Chocolate Chunk Cookie Good cookie, which is, well, friggin' awesome. For this week's schedule and for all other info, check this out.
Wednesday, August 20, 2014
Due to my pending nuptials, 2014 has been chock full of lunch salads. In an attempt to not want to punch a wall, I've done my best to mix things up (amazing salad pun right there) by visiting an array of lettuce providers. Many of them have been of the "Make Your Own Salad" variety due to the fact that most of the Restaurant Makes Their Own Salads simply don't do the trick for me. I'm a man (sometimes; on a good day) and I need my salads to be filling. Unfortunately, most of the Make Your Owns oft disappoint for one reason or another.
With this in mind, I was a bit skeptical when a Twitter Friend recommended the newly opened Simply Salad in Santa Monica. However, a local salad chain doesn't just rapidly expand in LA without a touch of success. This was already their third location in a very rapid time frame. I decided to give it a try - and it definitely lives up to the hype. The salads are big AND good. Definitely the type of place Elaine Benis would go absolutely bonkers for.
These are the simple factors that put Simply Salad simply above the other Make Your Own Salad Joints:
1) They Don't Charge Extra for Grilled Onions and Sauteed Mushrooms - So many make your own salad places offer a certain amount of free toppings (At SS it's five), including gratis raw mushrooms and onions, yet when you scroll down the menu a bit, you also notice caramelized onions... for a dollar extra. A whole freaking dollar for some onion slivers that were thrown in a pan for a few minutes?! What am I, SCROOGE MCDUCK?
2) They Slice the Cherry/Grape Tomatoes in Half - This may sound trivial, but anyone who has ever been faced with the Herculean feat of trying to tackle a salad packed with full-sized spherical/circular tomato nuggets know what I'm talking about. The fact that SS takes the time to pre-slice them is philanthropically HUMUNGOUS.
3) The Chicken Is Real - Very few things in life are more criminal than paying $10 for a salad that clearly has tasteless, pre-made Costco "grilled white chicken" pieces with faux grillmarks. That's not even full chicken breast - it's also a lot of rib. Simply Salad has real chicken. With real grill marks. With real taste. That's all, REAL breast - those things are definitely nats.
4) To Alleviate Long Lines, They Take Orders As You Enter - In hopes of getting orders out of the way before you approach the salad bar and hem and hah and twiddle your thumbs and change your mind a thousand times, they have multiple employees designated to taking your order when you're in the back of the line. This is the In 'n Out philosophy and for a newbie like Simply Salad, very impressive that they would have the foresight to devote workers and money to this.
5) They Offer More Salad Dressings Than Newman's Own - Simply Salad offers 26 salad dressings. Twenty. Six. That's like a marathon of salad dressings. They have a nice medley for the whole family with some super duper healthy options (Pomegranate Vinaigrette) to, uhh, stuff I like (BBQ Ranch) to huh, interesting (Wasabi, Sweet Waldorf, Horseradish).
6) They Actually Put Avocado You Paid For In The Salad - Many places charge a ransom for avocado. Yet when you do fork over the ridiculous moolah for the salad addition, it often feels like you're stuck playing a game of hide 'n go seek in search of the 'cado. My Simply Salad features nice, fresh chunks that absolutely suck at hiding.
7) They Play Good Music - I cannot underscore the importance of the soundtrack when you're eating salad for lunch again. Eating salad every day can get downright depressing. Add in some Celine Dion on full blast and you honestly consider suffocating yourself in the salad bowl. In today's world of Pandora and Spotify a restaurant has almost no excuse for crappy music.The music at SS sounds right off my iTunes, which, depending on how you view my music tastes, is a good(/great/horrible) thing.
8) They Serve Coke Zero Out of the Fountain - Almost all of LA's Make Your Own Salad Joints pretend to be super nutrituous by only offering non-soft drink beverages. WHY? That's imbecilic for two reasons: 1) Most of their salad dressings contain more sugar than a real Coke, 2) When I'm having a salad, the last thing I want is a b.s. juice. I want soda. I deserve it. And Coke Zero out of the fountain is even better than out of the can and everybody knows that and if they don't they're idiots.
9) They Chop Every Salad - Unless you say otherwise, they chop every salad. Right in front of you. With what appears to be an advance level ninja lettuce chopper. It is incredibly entertaining to watch and probably could keep your kids occupied for hours on end. But even better: it makes the salad taste good.
10) I Was Full.
(The above pictured salad, therefore known as The Unemployed Eater: Simply Salad Mix, Caramelized Onions, Grape Tomatoes, Hard-Boiled Eggs, Sauteed Mushrooms and Sunflower Seeds plus added Avocado, Pesto Chicken and Crumbled Feta, with BBQ Ranch)
1401 2nd Street, Santa Monica (plus two DTLA locations)
Thursday, August 14, 2014
Anyone who has ever had The Ivy Chopped Salad raves about it. Yet, the oft scuttlebutted about Ivy Chopped Salad, due to multiple factors, remained unattainable for plebeians like ourselves.
Until now. Or maybe for a while. But I just discovered the solution, so... UNTIL. NOW.
What if I told you there was a way to sample The Ivy Chopped Salad without putting up with Shannon Doherty and Verne Troyer sighting Robertson Blvd hoopla? A way to indulge in one of LA's most celebrated salads without forking over an astronomical $27 at lunchtime? Without having to pay double figure valet fees? Without having to sit next to Swedish tourists, Kitson bags at their side, just giving the death stare to everyone that walks in?
The answer to your hangry prayers is Dolce Isola.
Certainly one of the most random restaurants in the whole Southland, 'Sweet Island' sits on a lonely South Robertson stretch in Beverlywood. It may be the same street sign, but this Robertson is a very, very distant cry from the flash-bulb popping, bustling Robertson to the north associated with The Ivy. It is, however, owned by The Ivy and serves as the bakery for both that restaurant and Ivy on the Shore. Like it's sister restaurants, there is very much a faux-faux Mediterranean getaway feel to the place. So much so, the television sitcom-like feel of the place almost makes it charming to a degree.
Aside from handsome breads, pastries, cakes and gelato, there's a sorta/kinda sit-down cafe component to Dolce Isola in which you can order somewhat overpriced appetizers, sandwiches, pizza and salads. Skip everything else on the menu though and order The Ivy Chopped Salad. Whether you enjoy chopped salads, you like salad at all, or you're even hungry, YOU MUST ORDER THIS SALAD to take advantage of this opportunity. Stick it to The Man.
Although not a steal persay at $13 and served on a less than stellar Smart & Final white plastic picnic plate, it's a truly iconic Los Angeles dish. At half normal price. And it's really tasty. One of the better chopped salads around (certainly up there with its arch nemesis from La Scala), TICS comes with a tangy mustardy dressing, along with an infinitesimal amount of toppings, including cubed fresh roasted free range turkey, tomatoes, avocados, hard-boiled egg, crumbled Maytag blue cheese and Niman Ranch applewood-smoked bacon. The kicker that separates it from the pack: nicely-sized fresh golden beets! They can't be beet because a) they taste good and b) golden beets make you feel like Scrooge McDuck as you eat them.
Overall, it's a really solid lunch. In a location that is very central for many people "meeting in the middle," as I was with my friend Andrew (he from WeHo, me from Culver), who recommended the place. The desserts appear solid as well and I might have to return soon to sample the dolce portion of the cafe. You know, for research. And, of course, to stick it to The Man.
2869 S. Robertson Blvd, Beverlywood'ish
Mon-Fri, 8 am - 4 pm; Sat, 8 am - 3 pm