For my 2011 New Year’s resolution, I promise to eat healthier. I’m going to cut out refined sugars, eat fresh produce and stay away from fatty foods. Recently, I dined at a restaurant in Beverly Hills that will help me keep my resolution all year long: Greenleaf Gourmet Chopshop.
I met the owner of the restaurant, Jonathan Rollo, while lunching with a friend. We chuckled when she pointed to the back of Rollo’s chef jacket that read “Commander-in-Leaf.” He looks a lot like the actor Kevin Bacon, yet more handsome with adorable dimples.
Born and raised in Southern California, he earned a full ride swimming scholarship to Northwestern University, yet turned it down to go to Vanderbilt. After graduating with a bachelor’s degree in Finance and Organizational Development he flew home to enjoy one of his favorite holidays: Thanksgiving. While helping his mom cook for 50 family members, he had an epiphany to become a chef. His mother said she would give him her blessing, if he would first make a croquembouche for the family feast. While whipping up over 100 profiteroles and filling them with chocolate mousse, he had sugar in his hair and flour all over the floor. He made a mess, yet the croquembouch was a success and his mother encouraged him to enroll in the Cordon Bleu in Chicago.
After graduating, he moved back to sunny Los Angeles and joined the Patina group. He became friends with another chef, Kristy Ritchey. Years later when Rollo decided to open his first Greenleaf restaurant, he asked Ritchey to be his Executive chef.
Rollo and Ritchey create the healthiest salads, sandwiches and pizzas in town using the finest organic and locally grown produce to create high quality and colorful dishes. They built the restaurant in an environmentally conscious way to use recycled and compostable products. Their delivery service is not by car, but by bicycle. It’s healthier for the environment and for the delivery person.
Ritchey lost over 110 pounds in less than one year by creating and eating the Antioxidant salad. I had to give it a try. Not that I need to lose that much weight, but wow, what a testimonial to lose and maintain her new ideal weight by having this salad as one of her daily meals. Chopped and mixed with the baby greens from Scarborough farms are red seedless grapes, celery, apples, dried cranberries, blue cheese, mint, red onion, cucumber and strawberries with pomegranate and whole grain mustard dressing.
My friend ordered the Lemongrass Chicken salad with baby mixed greens, grilled citrus chicken, mango, grilled pineapple, jicama, toasted coconut, cashews, Thai chili and Thai basil tossed with a lemongrass lychee vinaigrette. She read that Thai Chili helps boost metabolism and Thai basil offers anti-inflammatory benefits. All I know is when both of the salads arrived, they were big enough to share with three people. Besides their size and gourmet ingredients, they are a great value at $10 each.
I felt guilty when the grilled chicken Panini with avocado pesto on foccacia arrived, because there was too much food on our table. Yet, after taking my first bite, I slowed down on eating my salad and devoured half of the sandwich. The avocado pesto is made with fresh avocado, garlic and basil. That’s it! It makes the most ambrosial sandwich spread. I took the other half home for dinner. This sandwich was not going to waste.
Located across the street from Saks Fifth Avenue, they also offer a build your own salad. Laminated cards and pens are near the register to check off the ingredients you would like in your salad. You chose what type of greens and then check off a choice of four toppings. There are 19 different vegetables, 7 different chesses, 6 nut (they roast their own) varieties, 5 legumes, 5 herbs and 8 kinds of fruit. Next, you can choose a meat and one of the 18 different house dressings. Just hand it to one of the super salad preparers and it will arrive at your table within minutes. Two gentlemen sitting next to us had their custom salad made with seared Ahi tuna on top. It looked marvelous.
After finishing one-third of my salad and half a sandwich, I felt energized and not weighed down. Greenleaf offers similar fare as many of the fancy hotel restaurants in the area, yet the service is faster and the dishes are much more affordable. Gourmet soup of the day for $3.50. Sandwiches, Panin’s and Pizza are all under $10. With success, Rollo opened a second Greenleaf Gourmet Chopshop in Century City. This location provides breakfast and lunch to all of the workers and shoppers in the area. Greenleaf also sells items to go at their restaurants and at Barry’s Boot Camp and some Equinox Gyms and Body Factory locations.
When it comes to eating right, Greenleaf Gourmet Chopshop is an ideal restaurant to fortify your body and soul. Price: $.
9671 Wilshire Blvd. (310)246-0756 and 1888 Century Park E. (424)239-8700.