You may have heard that Temecula has a restaurant that caters to organic, gluten free, and vegan diners; but had no idea where it was. Well, that was me a couple of weeks ago, driving around looking for the dining establishment that goes by the name of E.A.T.
E.A.T. stands for extraordinary artisan table, and the name barely scratches the surface of explaining how different this place is from ordinary restaurants. However, before I describe the meal I had there, let me first dispel a few misconceptions you might have about what you’ll actually be eating at E.A.T.
When they first opened their doors to customers, they wanted to cater to a wide variety of clients, while still serving good food, that is good for you. So, if you want meat, they serve it. If you want vegetarian or vegan fare, well they’ve got that too. Even those who need gluten free foods will find things on the menu to fit the bill; including gluten free, fresh made Oreo style cookies. E.A.T.’s menu has something that will appeal to any type of guest (and that included me, which is impressive in and of itself, since I’m so picky).
Although it does in fact cater to all of the above styles, that is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to this place. In fact, E.A.T. as a business concept turns out to be much more complex than just what you'll find on the menu, but at the same time it's this very complexity that makes it much more inviting. They aren't just promoting food, they are promoting a way of life.
All food is prepared fresh daily, and whenever possible it's also obtained from local sources. You see E.A.T. openly promotes the Farm to Fork philosophy, and practices what it preaches. In addition to working with local farms, they have also paired up with a Paleo-dining catering firm to help promote yet another option for healthier living too.
The location can be a bit tricky to find, as it’s not easily visible from Jefferson. Don’t feel bad if you didn’t find it the first time, I didn't either, and had to call for directions (and even though I did so on a day that they were closed, they were still happy to answer all my questions). So, learn from my mistakes, call ahead for detailed directions, and remember that they are closed on both Sundays and Mondays.
Once you do find the place, you’ll at first think it really small, until you step inside and realize just how far back the interior actually stretches. Long family style tables, complete with a mismatch of chairs, make up the dining area on one side. When I asked someone at the order counter (did I mention that you order your food like you’re at a deli?), he said that it’s communal, or family, style seating, where you sit wherever there’s room. Luckily I came right at the end of the lunch rush, so by the time my food came there was plenty of room to sit.
The menus are printed on the backs of the type of paper bag that you once took your lunch to school in. Specials are printed up all over the place on chalk boards. If there's a complaint to be had, it would be that the bottom of the main board was covered up while the place was full with patrons, so you couldn’t actually see all the specials. However, most of the staff seemed really knowledgeable, and they can walk you through the options.
I wound up getting a ½ soup-1/2 ham sandwich lunch special. It came on a bamboo cutting board, with a side of one extra large sweet potato chip, and a pickle spear. The lemonade was a bit dull, and they only offer refills if you order iced tea; so be aware of that before you order. The sandwich was hot and tasty, but a bit small. The soup was ok, but the portion would fill maybe to the ½ cup line on a measuring cup; and here we have a problem for the mainstream diner. The food is good, and from sustainable sources, but is a bit costly, and comes in really small portions. If you know the ins and outs of the food industry you can understand how the math works, but not everyone does, nor do they care.
I paid almost $14 for a ½ cup of soup, a 3 inch sandwich, a cup of lemonade, and one regular sized chocolate cupcake (good, but the size of one you’d make at home). If I had gone to Subway or Togo’s, I probably would have paid considerably less, but would it have been as high quality food? Would it have been as good for me? That is the debate that diners will have to have with themselves before heading out to E.A.T. for their own meals. As for me, well I’m glad that places like E.A.T. exist, and although I probably won’t eat there all the time ( I can’t really afford it), I will occasionally go back as a treat to myself. In the end, I say give it a try, and judge for yourself if the trade off is worth it. If nothing else you’ll at least get a good story out of it. Bon Appetit Everyone!