Monday, June 10, 2013

Meatless Monday Lunch: Tender Greens (Santa Monica)

Date: Monday, June 3, 2013
RestaurantTender Greens
Address: 201 Arizona Avenue, Santa Monica
Ordered: Grilled and Roasted Vegetable Sandwich with Cauliflower Soup
Thoughts: When a friend invited me to join him for lunch at Tender Greens last Monday I was extremely hesitant to accept. Not because of the location - I love Tender Greens. I've regularly eaten at TG since the first location opened in Culver City a few years back and even more so since the addition of a nearby Santa Monica branch. They make a wide variety of delicious and affordable salads, sandwiches and hot plates. For your dollar, there are very few spots around that offer such fast casual quality. Obviously I'm not alone in my adoration. The Santa Monica restaurant features a line out the door every week day lunch time. They've also rapidly expanded with six current LA locations (with additional spots opening in Westwood and DTLA soon), two in the San Diego area with another on the way, one in Orange County and one in the Bay Area (with a SF TG coming around the corner). So... why was I timid to accept an invite to Tender Greens on a Meatless Monday? The menu. That probably sounds silly. A restaurant named after lettuce MUST have strong Meatless Monday alternatives. You would think so, but, unfortunately that's not the case. After doing some research recently, I learned that MM extends to all seafood as well as land animals, so that eliminates every protein on the Tender Greens menu (steak, chicken, albacore and the special of the day, calamari steak) except for Grilled and Roasted Vegetables. Since I knew the veggies in a salad or part of a hot plate wouldn't satiate my hunger, I ordered a Grilled and Roasted Vegetables Sandwich with a side of their Cauliflower Soup. Sadly, the sandwich is probably my least favorite thing I've ever had at TG. Sure, the veggies are "roasted and grilled" and touched with crushed chili, oregano, olive oil and parsley, but that was a long time ago. Since then they've sat in a container in the work station waiting to be thrown on a salad. Thus, they're lukewarm at best. And it truly is a just a hodgepodge of vegetables -- asparagus, caulflower, pea shoots. As a sandwich, there's no balance. At the very least they should be thrown back on the grill together before sandwich assemblage. The Cauliflower Soup, however? AWESOME. I order it every time it's on the menu. It does not matter how hot it is outside, that soup is creamy and rich and amazing and worth sweating.
Did I Miss Meat?: Yes.
Suggestion: Tender Greens appears to try to offer a Meatless Monday sandwich special every Monday at all locations. Very admirable. Golf clap. But it also appears they think seafood is okay. According to the internet it's not. So how about a true Meatless Monday sandwich offering every week for carnivores like myself barely hanging on by the thinnest threads to one of their 2013 New Years resolutions?


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