Did your high school cafeteria offer twelve-spice braised duck, quinoa-squash salad, ancho-chili pot roast, or roasted cauliflower with golden raisins and curry vinaigrette? At this lunch spot you can fill your plastic tray with more than 15 different salads, eight hot and cold sandwiches, five or more Dutch oven dishes, plus soups, sides, and desserts. We suspected that the selection was too ambitious for quality control, but we were wrong. The snap peas with edamame and sesame seeds were bright, and the corned beef, sauerkraut, and Gruyère sandwich had Jewish deli cred. As for the house-made lemonade? We loved drinking the blueberry-mint on the sunny patio.
Best Patio for a Salad, August 2009
It’s a cliché, but we’d be lying if we said we hadn’t loved it. West Coast weather plus girls’ day out plus lunchtime equals a bowl of greens on a sunny patio. With its patches of sea grass and slatted wooden steps, the outdoor dining area at the Beverly Boulevard location of Lemonade looks like a windswept cottage in Southampton. Thanks to heat lamps, generous seating, and the scent of lavender, it’s as comfortable as it is pretty. As for those greens: Customers line up cafeteria style before just-made dishes displayed behind glass, including hearty sandwiches and stews. But the salads here are standouts, prepared with fresh ingredients in intriguing combinations. Roasted cauliflower, for example, gets a crunchy kick from curried almonds; mint and goat cheese transform ho-hum zucchini. Three couscous preparations—one with peanut dressing—made us rethink the humble grain.