I'm not one to write about a restaurant more than once. It's not for any particular reason; I just have a mile-long list of dishes, recipes and restaurants that I'm excited to share with you. Well, I'm about to break my rule and write about Greenleaf Chopshop again, the place with fabulous corn hot cakes I wrote about just three weeks ago. Here's why.
Greenleaf's Corn Hot Cakes | Blueberry Agave Compote
Since the New Year, I've really been on a health kick. No, really, I swear. I've all but given up drinking this month -- okay, I slipped up three times, so sue me -- have been watching my calories, booze intake, carb intake, and trying to cook most meals at home. And guess what? After a few weeks, I got so, so, so bored of eating a different version of the same boring "healthy" meal everyday. I was sick of grilling chicken. Of using red wine vinegar instead of salad dressing. Of egg whites for breakfast. And sometimes dinner. Worst of all, after about two weeks, L.A.'s weather hit about 80 degrees (in January!) and turning on my oven to 450 degrees for a vegetable roasting marathon left our apartment, well, feeling like the inside of said oven. I needed a change, needed some inspiration, needed some flavor. And this is coming from someone who knows how to cook some pretty darn good food. This is where Greenleaf saved me.
Greenleaf's executive chef, Kristi Ritchey, and chef/owner, Jon Rollo, formerly of biggie Patina Group, joined forces in 2007 to open an organic, sustainable restaurant with delicious salads, sandwiches, hot meals and a killer breakfast that -- for me -- takes the guesswork out of eating healthy. When I learned a bit more about their backgrounds, it makes perfect sense: Kristi has lost (and kept off) 110 pounds. Jon has a sister with a terrible gluten allergy. They're both professional chefs and Barry Boot Camp aficionados. Perhaps most importantly, they've both spent years cooking in high-end restaurant kitchens where often times the biggest sources of flavor are copious amounts of salt, oil and butter. Hence their desire to jump ship and start their own health-conscious restaurant where they can take the healthy tips and tricks they've developed and pay it forward in the form of great-tasting and fantastic-for-you meals.
Kristi & Jon
Greenleaf's 1st Leaf-tenant & Commander in "Leaf," respectively
It's simple enough: Corn hot cakes are made with cornmeal, skim milk, egg whites, vanilla bean puree, lemon zest and topped with homemade blueberry agave compote. Cashews, pecans and walnuts are roasted with a light agave syrup blend; no sugar or oil here. Salads have steamed egg whites, grilled white meat chicken, sharp cheeses, shaved veggies of all kinds, turkey bacon and homemade dressings like Jon's famous citrus and basil, or their spicy orange chipotle BBQ sauce that tops the Mexplosion.
Mexplosion Salad | Scarborough Farms baby greens, grilled corn and black bean salsa, cilantro, tomatoes, shaved red onion, avocado, sunflower seeds, whole wheat tortilla crunchies, jalapeno jack cheese on low-carb, high-protein whole wheat tortilla. Homemade citrus basil vinaigrette and spicy chipotle orange BBQ sauce.
Kitchen Sink Cobb "Lite" | Iceberg lettuce, Romaine hearts, tomatoes, steamed egg whites, avocado, carrots, garbanzo beans, grilled chicken breast, turkey bacon, basil, Charo's classic balsamic vinaigrette.
Greenleaf's hot meals, like turkey meatballs and turkey chili, literally have people lining up for to-go orders before the dish is even ready to serve. The wild mushroom truffle pizza has shaved Pecorino, mixed mushrooms, peppery arugula, a drizzle of truffle oil, and is only 400 calories. For the entire pizza. But that's par for the Greenleaf course; almost everything on the menu is around or under 400 calories, which kind of makes your head spin when you see how generous the portions are.
Wild Mushroom Pizza | Mixed wild mushrooms, baby arugula, goat cheese, red pepper spread, shaved Pecorino, white truffle oil.
All of that is great, but get this: Jon and Kristi aren't just making healthy food, they're acting as pseudo personal chefs for every person who comes through their doors. They take calls from loyal customers who have started new diet regimens -- from the Zone to Atkins to doctor-recommend eating plans -- and walk them through what they can and can't eat. They work together to create custom eating plans to keep the customer's palate interested and diet on track over the long-term. A few of their customers, from Century City lawyers to Beverly Hills businessmen, have lost 50-plus pounds by working with Jon and Kristi and eating the Greenleaf way. Where else can you say that in L.A.? Nowhere, unless you have the budget to shell out big bucks for home-delivery meal plans. These are clearly two people who live for making healthy food and in turn, healthy customers.
Antioxidant Orchard Salad | Scarborough Farms baby greens, grapes, shaved celery, agave-roasted walnuts, dried cranberries, crumbled blue cheese, mint, shaved red onion, cucumbers, green apple, seasonal berries, pomegranate whole grain mustard vinaigrette.
Zorra The Great Salad| Romaine hearts, baby arugula, tomatoes, cucumber, feta, Greek olives, shaved red onion, herbs, pita, housemade crispy artichoke crisps, served on bed of hummus with garlic herb vinaigrette.
I'm so happy I found Greenleaf and met Kristi and Jon. It's rare in L.A. to find people who serve such fantastic food, have such genuine intentions, big hearts, and portions to match (which also makes me happy). Check them out for yourself at their Century City (serves breakfast) or Beverly Hills location. You won't be sorry.