By Charly SHELTON
There are many places in Glendale where hungry guests can stop and grab a quick bite. Seldom fancy, most are just quick counter service places to grab a sandwich or something similar. But what if you could have the delicious foods expected from a sit-down restaurant in a counter service format? This is the idea behind Lemonade, a new cafeteria-style eatery located in the Americana at Brand.
Featuring decadent foods like white truffle mac and cheese, seared ahi tuna with crushed orange-ginger ponzu sauce and avocado Salmon Louie, this is unlike any cafeteria you have ever been to. I had the pleasure of dining there at a media preview night and I can’t wait to go back. The cafeteria-style of the restaurant leaves guests relaxed and at ease, not feeling out of place when wearing regular street clothes. But the food screams table service. Not super high-end fancy foods, but something you would expect to be served by a waiter. For example, I would not expect an Asian pear blue cheese flatbread, Jamaican jerk chicken, kale-mushroom-kumquat salad and watermelon rosemary lemonade to be cafeteria foods.
Cafeterias call to mind thoughts of burgers, sandwiches, pizza and maybe a salad bar. Lemonade’s response would be braised short ribs topped with truffle mac, a toasted croissant sandwich with ham, manchego and quince, a wild mushroom-onion-truffle flatbread and an assortment of over 20 side salads from curries to pastas to shaved Brussels sprouts. I cannot overstate the ingenuity of these dishes. They are all accessible to the public because they are traditional flavors, but at Lemonade are dressed in their Sunday best.
And being named Lemonade, it’s not surprising that their selection of the famous beverage is spruced up as well. Coconut-apple lemonade, blueberry-mint lemonade, guava limeade, the aforementioned watermelon-rosemary lemonade and more. They have a lemonade to fit just about every taste … as long as you like lemons.
Simply said, this place impressed me. I attend a lot of these types of quick service restaurants both in service for the paper and of my own volition. This one is different. It is good food and fast. Many times I just want to get something fast and move on, sacrificing quality or selection for speed and price. Lemonade is really, really good food that is fast and moderately affordable. It is about $20 for a sandwich like a tuna poke and a couple of side dishes. That is a nice big lunch that will fill you up, and it’s great food. The amount of food you could get at a fast food burger place for $12 will cost you $20 here, but the quality is incomparably better.
That’s really what it comes down to – Lemonade is (probably) healthier, tastier and just as fast as other counter-service places, but there is an upcharge for that. Personally, I am more than willing to pay the charge. The short rib sandwich topped with truffle mac and cheese, served in a rustic roll that is more a bread bowl than a roll is a regular occurrence in my dreams after eating here.
Lemonade is a great counter-service cafeteria with locations all around Los Angeles and now at the Americana at Brand. I enjoyed eating here and I will return soon, hungry for more.