It took me almost a year to finally mosey on over to Lyfe Kitchen in Palo Alto. You know, that healthy fast-food place, started by former McDonald’s executives and Art Smith with consulting vegan chef Tal Ronnen. I’ve already reviewed their Sweet Corn Chowder when it was available at Costco so I was looking forward to dining in their actual space.
I was actually pretty excited to try Art’s Unfried Gardein Chicken with roasted vegetables, cashew cream and dijon vinaigrette. While it was quite tasty, I couldn’t help thinking it wasn’t much different than eating the frozen Gardein stuff at home. At this point, I’ve tried almost all of the retail Gardein products at least once so maybe I’m no longer dazzled by it.
I also got the Vegan BBQ Flatbread, whole-wheat crust with sweet corn, roasted onions, agave BBQ sauce and Daiya cheese, which I liked well enough except that the BBQ sauce was a tad too much on the sweet side for my taste. But the crust was nice and thin, just the way I like it.
There’s many other vegan dishes I would like to try for next time, like the Kabocha Squash Risotto made with farro and steel-cut oats or the Gardein Sausage and Mozzarella Ravioli.
Most of the menu is under 600 calories (I’ve heard some people grumble about small portions. They’re actually normal-sized portions but when you’re used to or expect huge portions, it might seem small and pricey). There’s also meaty food and gluten-free options.
The space itself is open and airy with a patio area in the front and a herb garden inside. Ordering is done at the counter, if you’re the type to be overwhelm by a large selection of vegan options when you’re used to just one or two, you may want to check out their menu online beforehand. Grab your own water and silverware before picking out a seat. Servers with your food will find you by a hi-tech buzzer.
For those of you in Southern California, their second restaurant is set to open in Culver City in February 2013.