Lemonade, yes, it's a chain but you're at the mall and need to eat....healthy-ish
Usually I avoid the chains and reviewing them unless they are local ones or do some kind of unusual food my stomach really, really, really needs to try. But I was at the Target at Metreon, where many of us find ourselves this time of year, when hunger struck. I wandered through the food court there, yes, they have one that isn't your standard Sbarro or Panda Express. In fact, one or two of them is actually kind of healthy. Now I know this is the time of year is when we through food caution to the wind and just order and eat whatever holiday treats we can stuff whole heartedly into our mouths while our waistlines expand with the engorgement.
Still, we can at least try not to have everything we eat be red, green or covered in frosting. It was kind of why I found my way to Lemonade. They are a chain that originated in LA and have slowly made their way up and down the coast. They are kind of like a bright fancy version of a cafeteria though with less fried stuff and no pies. The selections usually run the mostly healthy range of assorted salads, veggies and chicken and fish things. You can order stuff a la carte or go all in and get a plate which includes two sides (a cold and a hot) a main and some bread all for about $15. Which sounds kind of expensive for say a daily lunch, but in the grand scheme of things, it is right on par with a number of mid to low range restaurants in SF. You know me, I'm all about the all in and decided to give the full on plate combo a try.
Keeping the let's eat healthy (ish) in mind I got the roasted broccoli with ricotta cheese and champagne vinaigrette--the cold, harissa roasted cauliflower--the hot and for the main green curry chicken meatballs. And they throw in a piece or hard toasted buttered garlic bread.
For the price it is a decent amount of food. I know with chains they work on portion control and what not, but not bad. The veggies were cooked nicely, but not overdone and soft. They had just a little bit of crunch. Though I'm not the biggest fan of cold broccoli salad things. I like my root vegetables hot. Still, both sides had good flavor and the harissa does come through and I like the spice. The meatballs were pretty good too. The green curry was mostly spicy with a few sweet notes. The sauce was on the thick side and more like a gravy texture wise, but for me it worked with the meatballs which were large. They seemed to cram as many as they could in the container--thanks for that! The bread was like a crispy wafer thingy, but it did have butter on it and the hardness did allow you to spread some of the curry on it. Overall, not bad.
A few days later, I found myself back at Target, because again, that time of year people!! I figured as long as I was there, why not go back to Lemonade since the holidays always seem to make me feel like eating. I think they call it stress eating or something which is odd since I really don't stress about it, I just eat. I'll worry about it in January.
The plate combo again! Barbecued beef brisket with roasted butternut squash and chile lime corn nuts and sautéed brussels sprouts and purple onion. The hard bread again too, though with less butter and garlic. Again, quite decent portion sizes. The brisket was tender and juicy, but wasn't the biggest fan of the sauce. It was a variation of a slightly spicy Texas style bbq which I can take or leave. I think the brisket would have been fine on its own and maybe just have the sauce as a dipper. The squash was a little undercooked for my taste as it was as crunchy as the corn. I couldn't taste much of the chile or lime here though. Nice idea, just not seasoned enough. Which is something that couldn't be said for the brussels sprouts as they killed them with black pepper. They were cooked just fine but yikes, the pepper was all you could taste. So much so they were bitter and I couldn't finish them.
A real mixed bag on this second visit as far as cooking and seasoning goes. I like the vegetable choices themselves, I just wish they had been prepared better. The beef brisket worked at least so there was that.
Final verdict, I'd still recommend the spot as an alternative to some of the other Chinese and pizza food court options. Though, seems it can be hit or miss with the prep and seasoning. Things look good under the glass but once on the plate they haven't all been winners. Except for the meats that is, both the meatballs and brisket were pretty good. I think in the end if you are looking for something with a healthy slant Lemonade is a good option to fill up on veggies to offset all the egg nog, fruitcake and Christmas cookies. Otherwise, if you don't really care, there is also a Super Duper Burger next door to them :).