[slideshow]Those of you who are regular readers of my blog know I have a deep love for Tender Greens, an outstanding restaurant chain here in SoCal serving locally farmed produce and expertly cooked local meats in a variety of euphoria-inducing salads, hot plates, sides, and specials. You also probably recall my entry from last month’s beer garden in which Tender Greens opens up their back patio for an all-you-can-eat and all-you-can-drink feast that showcases a local brewery and a whole-roasted animal acquired from a local farm. This event, which I maintain as being one of the best values in LA at only $40 a head, happens monthly from May through October.
Well, this past Sunday was June’s beer garden, which featured a whole roasted lamb, a whole roasted king salmon, and beer from El Segundo Brewing Company. My blog entry from May clearly made some impressions as there were 9 of us in this month’s group, 6 of them first-timers. I confess this time around I was not quite as psyched out for the event being that I had a lot piled up from being sick the previous week as well as a very early job in San Diego the next morning. As my friends arrived at my apartment and we began the loud, laughter-filled, expletive-ridden walk down to the restaurant, I was immediately reminded not only why my life is so great, but why I have such love for this event. When we arrived at the patio and fell into a state of hysteria over the appetizers and beer, all my stress and doubt were expelled completely. Not only was I in heaven over the food, but I was perhaps even more thrilled to see my first-time beer garden friends equally ecstatic over their experience.
Here’s a link to the menu so you all can see what was served. Highlights for me included:
- the salmon. crispy skin, super moist, and the sauce they topped it with… utter perfection.
- mini arancini. risotto balls stuffed with lamb, rolled in bread crumbs, and deep fried …life changing
- the veal tongue. deep fried, salty meat on crostini. unexpected and addicting. ate no less than 5
- baked eggplant. layered with cheese and house made ricotta, it was heaven. I don’t even like eggplant
- agave caramel bars. shortbread bottom, chocolate and sea salt on top. like a twix bar on gourmet steroids. win.
But the defining moment for me was when dessert hit. We were all at the table, dying, totally full, unable to continue. Then the warm peach cobbler came out, followed by cookies, followed by caramel bars… A few minutes later I looked at the table and, despite our overeaten despair, every single person had a plate heaping with desserts. No one wussed out, no one was like “oh well I’m being good and eating only half a cookie” – no. This was not the time for restraint. This was the time to shut the fuck up and keep eating. Seeing all those full plates, I knew that these were and are my people (not that I ever really doubted it).
In summary: another triumph, another batch of faithful believers… you’re welcome, Tender Greens. 😉