When my “in-the-know” roommate informed me that a Tender Greens restaurant had just opened last week in the heart of Santa Monica, I knew it was my duty as a newly inducted member to the “organic and sustainable foods” consumer club to check it out. Tender Greens acquires most of its produce from Scarborough Farms in Oxnard, gets it antibiotic/hormone free beef from grain-fed cows, and only uses cage-free range raised chickens.
First things first: parking was a breeze. The structure right next door to the restaurant (enter through 2nd street) has plenty of spots and 2 hours of free parking. The entrance to the restaurant is on Arizona, and the lobby featured a prominent menu on the wall. New additions to their regular menu include many fresh seafood items, perfect for its premiere beachside locale.
Photo Courtesy of: Michael Daines/Flickr
As a carnivorous dairy-phile, I’m not sure why I opted for the Happy Vegan salad, but the ingredients to me sounded the most appetizing without any changes or substitutions: wheat with cranberry and hazelnuts, quinoa with cucumber and beets, green hummus, tabbouleh, and tender greens.
The newly hired cashier seemed a bit nervous taking our order with her manager hovering right above her shoulder, but was super friendly and adept at answering my menu questions. My friend, Katie, and I decided on the mint lemonade as a bevvie and were not disappointed by its refreshingly sweet taste accented by the crushed up, fresh mint leaves. Strolling past the delectable desserts, we vowed to split one of the chocolate-y sweet goodies after finishing our salads.
Photo Courtesy of: esimpraim/Flickr
We carried our trays to the dining area, spacious and inviting with large windows, contemporary jazz music filling the air. Katie, a visiting Manhattanite, opted for the brand new item on the menu, the Octopus Salad, loaded with arugula, fennel, potatoes, cooked octopus, drizzled with a lemon juice/oil vinaigrette dressing. She raved about her salad, and I was delighted with the variety of tastes offered in mine. My fork kept returning to the wheat with cranberry and hazelnuts, a scrumptious mixture of sweet and crunchy. I‘ll go with easy dressing next time, because the lemon oil vinaigrette flavor overwhelmed my taste buds. The polite busboys took our trays away after asking us if we were done and offered more lemonade, which I gladly accepted. Stuffed from our salads, we had to forgo any sampling of the appetizing desserts.
I’m a carb girl, and I really wished for at least one or two more pieces of the buttery crostini bread with my salad, which would have been perfect dipping for the extra hummus left on my plate. On my next visit, I definitely plan to try the Backyard Steak salad with easy dressing, making sure to leave enough room for one of the freshly baked desserts.