Fans of fresh fare will find a feastful at Tender Green
Photos and Story By Kelley Carlson
Tender Greens brings the outside inside. From the recycled woods in the decor to organic products from area farms, the restaurant takes an environmentally friendly approach to dining. The emphasis is on fresh ingredients, much of them obtained locally and around Southern California.
“We try to give back to the community, make the best food possible, and support local farmers,” said Peter Balistreri, chef at the UTC location. “Everything comes from the farm to the fork.”
Much of the fare is prepared in-house, including the cheese, mustard and ice cream. Tender Greens also does its pickling on site and cures its own bacon.
The Charcuterie Board is a prime example of the restaurant’s capabilities, featuring thin slices of chile flake-and-fennel salami and Salami Point Loma (Rosemary-garlic), a silky-smooth chicken liver pate, pickled beets, celery stalks, olives, shredded radishes, spicy mustard and roasted red peppers.
But the majority of the menu revolves around salads. The Harvest Salad is light and fruity, and changes with the season — the current version contains slices of strawberries, tangerines and grapefruit, roasted almonds, creamy Drake Farms goat cheese and Scarborough Farms lettuce from Oxnard, all tossed in a golden, balsamic vinaigrette.
Among the greens with proteins is the Chinese Chicken Salad, composed of free-range shredded chicken, crispy wontons, peanuts, sesame dressing, cilantro, green onions and grated carrots.
One of the items unique to the UTC location is the Steamer, which changes daily and consists of mussels or clams steamed in a pot. A specialty is the mussels with chorizo, Thai basil and cilantro in a slightly spicy broth, served with bread to sop up the juices.
The signature item is the Hot Plate, in which customers have a choice of chicken, steak or tuna, served with mashed potatoes or grilled vegetables and a simple salad.
There are similar selections for kids: Quesadilla, grilled-cheese sandwich, flat-iron steak or grilled chicken — presented on a paper mat that also includes puzzles and games.
As for beverages, children can take delight in the natural sodas, while parents can indulge in local beers and wines.
The dining room utilizes various types of recycled woods and organic materials. Large windows allow for plenty of natural light
during the day. It’s enlivened with artwork by U.K. artist Jon Burgerman that some people describe as “bright” and “twisty,” along with the rhythms of world music.
When the room is filled to capacity or the weather is pleasant, customers filter outside to the patio, which was being renovated as of press time and expected to open this month. According to Balistreri, the new patio will feature awnings, heat lamps and succulents.
And because the restaurant is next to the clock tower in Westfield UTC Mall, guests will often hear performers in the main plaza nearby.
Address: 4545 La Jolla Village Drive, Westfield UTC Mall
Phone: (858) 455-9395
The Vibe: Casual, relaxed, family-friendly
Signature Dish: Hot Plate
Open Since: 2012 (UTC location)
Patio Seating: Yes
Take Out: Yes
Happy Hour: No
Hours: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday-Saturday, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday
On The Menu Recipe
Each week you’ll find a recipe from the featured restaurant online at lajollalight.com. Just click Get The Recipe at the bottom of the story. This week: Tender Greens’ Quark Cheese
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