Greenleaf Gourmet Chopshop – Fresh and Healthy Dining Alternative in Orange County
I recently tried a restaurant called Greenleaf, which specializes in food that is healthy and still tastes great. When you walk in it might remind you of many of the hip health conscience restaurants on Santa Monica Boulevard, with an emphasis on fresh, organic and locally grown ingredients. The restaurant started in health conscious Beverly Hills and Culver City and has expanded to Orange County. The latest opening is in the hipster friendly SoCo shopping center, in the same courtyard as the OC Mart Mix.
Greenleaf specializes in salads, sandwiches, pizzas and a couple hot protein dishes like grilled chicken, seared ahi and flat iron steak. Most locations also serve a healthy breakfast menu with include egg white scrambles and omelets and fruits. As a food blogger, I eat plenty of unhealthy meals. I really liked the idea of Greenleaf Gourmet Chopshop as a place to detox my system, without sacrificing on flavor. I am sure this sentiment rings true for most of my readers.
When I attended the opening celebrations of Greenleaf’s SoCo location, I was able to try out a couple of their popular dishes. Below are my reactions.
Salads and Fruit Starters
Grilled Deliciousness – A ripe yellow peach was grilled and topped with peach puree, salted pecan crusted burrata cheese, arugula and prosciutto salad with a balsamic reduction dressing. I liked this dishes sweet, salty and bitter flavor combinations.
The Antioxidant Orchard – This was a nicely balanced salad that offered Scarborough farms baby mixed greens with enough bulky ingredients to make it both interesting and filling. The salad incorporated grapes, celery, walnuts, dried cranberries, apples, blue cheese, mint, red onion, cucumbers, strawberries and blueberries, with pomegranate whole grain vinaigrette. That is a lot of ingredients!
All of Greenleaf’s pizzas are made on whole wheat tortillas. The tortillas flash baked so that the tortilla forms a crispy and light crust and then topped with fresh ingredients and finished in the oven. I liked this tortilla thin crust concept, because I did not feel pregnancy gut after eating several slices. I tried three of the pizzas and my favorite was the mushroom truffle pizza, which was topped with goat cheese spread, sautéed mushroom, parmesan and pecorino cheese, arugula, and drizzled with truffle oil!
The other pizzas I tried was the Romesco Sausage Pizza made with turkey sausage, Parmesan and fennel. I love this pizzas rich and deep flavors. Plus it was made with turkey, so I didn’t have to feel bad about eating it.
The Burrata Pizza was light and perfect for a warm summer night. It was topped with basil pesto, baby tomatoes, parmesan cheese and drizzled with balsamic reduction. It had the right combination of acidic, salty and creaminess. I would love to eat this pizza with a nice sauvignon blanc.
Healthy sides do not always have to be French fries or mashed potatoes, there are some really delicious and under rated grains that made a delicious side, or even a meal. My favorite side that I tried was Greenleaf’s Faro salad. If you are not familiar with this grain, don’t worry most people are not either. Faro is a whole wheat grain with a texture and size similar to barley. This grain provides a nice slightly firm texture and nutty and sweet creamy flavor. Tender Green Leaf’s version is cooked with sofritto and vegetable stock and mixed with feta cheese. I loved the creamy and nutty flavor from this dish. It tasted very healthy, even though it is filling and slightly decadent tasting.
The other side dish I liked was Kristi’s Quinoa, which is made with sofritto and green onion. It is accented with Balsamic vinegar. Every restaurant, it seems, is serving Quinoa although I really like the way Greenleaf pulled off their dish.
I also tried their Almond chicken sandwich and Turkey sliders. Both were good, although there was too much bread and it over powered the dish. With that said, all I still enjoyed the sandwiches “open faced” by removing the top layer of bread. This is my neurotic personal preference. the Almond Chicken Sandwich is made with chicken meat, almonds, tangy slaw and a romesco sauce. The Turkey slider was made with a mini turkey patty, butter lettuce, tomato, red onion marmalade and pomegranate aioli.
My Final Thoughts
Overall I was pretty impressed with Greenleaf and it will become my go to location for a healthy meal. I was impressed by the overall quality of ingredients and flavor. There were a couple dishes that I would have tweaked slightly for my preference, although overall great food. The newest location at the SoCo shopping center is really pretty and has patio dining in the courtyard. I will be back in a couple months to try out their healthy breakfast menu.