Hey there, it’s been a while hasn’t it? A recent death in the family had me focused on other matters for a while and I’m sorry that I neglected my site and my few faithful readers… The verdict is that while it was good to take a breather, I still feel compelled to share my latest eating adventures with you, so let’s just move onto the food!
I have been waiting for Lemonade to open in downtown Walnut Creek, and was excited to be invited to a preview last night to check out the new restaurant which is where La Boulange used to be on Broadway Plaza. It looks completely different with the bright, exuberantly modern design which makes it hard to miss.
They had the official ribbon cutting ceremony earlier in the day, and there were balloons and live music for the festive preview event before the grand opening today. The sleekly modern restaurant occupies approximately 1700 square feet with two outside patios featuring an excellent living plant wall. This is the 25th location of the popular Southern California chain that offers casual comfort food served in a modern cafeteria setting.
Lemonade’s menu offers a wide variety of back to basics dishes to entice you with the simple allure of beautifully prepared salads, hearty braised meats, satisfying sandwiches, decadent desserts, and thirst-quenching lemonades. The first thing you see as you enter is a long stainless steel counter filled with a mind boggling number of bins of brightly colorful dishes, monitored by a crew of neatly attired and friendly staff who are eager to feed you. There is a stack of plastic trays lined with crisp white paper that are meant for you to take and slide along the shiny stainless counter and you are encouraged to ask for samples to help you decide from the myriad options along the way.
The menu features marketplace vegetables as the focus, although there are plenty of hot dishes featuring animal protein, and diners get to shape their own meals by mixing and matching dishes based on preference. It is quite overwhelming at first glance, but the menu breaks it down and each section is clearly marked with overhead signage: marketplace (signature vegetarian and vegan salads), leafy greens, land & sea (chicken, beef, fish), sandwiches toasted to order, hot dishes of braised, roasted or rotisserie meats or hot veggies, chilis, mac and cheeses or soups. They suggest some popular combinations: 2 marketplace + land & sea; or a sandwich + leafy green (side); or leafy greens (full) + land & sea.
The bins start with the marketplace vegan options: fig & black tuscan kale with hazelnuts; sesame noodles with fermented carrots, mushrooms and edamame; long beans with summer plums and hoisin vinaigrette, edamame & snap peas with carrots, radish, chives, shallots, and sesame seeds. Definitely ask for samples before you commit to anything. I found most of the dishes I tasted to be vibrantly flavored and well seasoned, with a variety of textures.
Marketplace vegetarian options: avocado and cherry tomatoes with pine nuts in lime cilantro vinaigrette; beluga lentils and beets with fava beans, goat cheese, yuzu truffle orange dressing; orechiette pasta with tomatoes, mozzarella and chimichurri; roasted cauliflower with golden raisins and curry vinaigrette; roasted broccoli with ricotta cheese and champagne vinaigrette
Marketplace with protein: backyard grilled chicken; watermelon radish and seared ahi buna, BLT panzanella; green beans and pineapple chicken with coconut jerk dressing.
Land & Sea ($6.95) : Ahi tuna & avocado poke made with tangerines, radish and sesame; citrus poached salmon fillet; roasted chicken; seared ahi tuna with crushed orange-ginger ponzu; curry apple chicken salad; half avocado filled with shrimp louie with grapefruit segments and pickled cucumber
Seasonal Leafy Greens ($7.95 full/$4.50 side): butter & red leaf lettuces with radish, maple walnuts and grapefruit; baby and gem romaine with garlic croutons and parmesan; tatsoi & mizuna lettuces with heirloom carrots and sesame candied peanuts
Sandwiches ($7.95): Turkey El Tijuana; Tomato & Mozzarella; Herb roasted chicken; buttermilk baked chicken; roasted turkey BLT; Ham croque monsieur; Gandolfini; Breakfast Sandwich; Provolone grilled cheese with artichokes, toamto, avocado and rosemary aioli and a regular grilled cheese for ($4.5)
Hot dishes – veggies ($4.50) Summer Vegetable Succotash; Lime and Parmesan Roasted Brussels Sprouts, Caramelized Onions and Grape Glaze; Red Pepper Flake Roast Cauliflower; Red Onion and Harissa Sauce; Creamy Mashed Potatoes; Traditional Mac N Cheese; White Truffle Mac N Cheese; (meats $7.95) Chicken Chili; Vegetarian Chili; Red Miso Beef shortribs; Chicken Basque; BBQ Brisket; Jerk Chicken; Thai Chicken Meatballs with Green Curry; rotisserie guava limeade chicken in the left front ($10.50)
Desserts: cookies – chocolate chip, peanut butter, cranberry oatmeal ($3); bars – brownies, blondies ($5), cupcakes – chocolate buttercream, carrot, red velvet ($1.75); macaron – caramel fleur de sel, pistachio, raspberry, chocolate hazelnut ($4.5)
They also have something called pick me ups, which are layered trifles in a jar – strawberry s’mores; blood orange cheesecake; tiramisu; coconut cake; nutella cheesecake; lemon meringue pie; chocolate mint grasshopper pie
And a selection of lemonades ($3.50): old fashioned, cucumber mint, blueberry mint, bood orange, watermelon rosemary and guava limeade.
I had a blood orange mimosa, and a cucumber mint one too, along with a chocolate buttercream cupcake that was sprinkled with tiny malted milkballs.
Since I only have been to the pre-opening/premiere, this is more informational as I only tasted a bit of this and that. I loved the basque chicken with rice, truffled mac and cheese, poke salad and cherry tomato, avocado and pine nut salad. The samples were for the most part very flavorful and fresh and I am going to definitely put this in the rotation for lunch! So expect more descriptives to come…
1348 Broadway Plaza, Walnut Creek | 925.231.0066 | website
open for lunch and dinner daily from 11:00 a.m. to 9:05 p.m.