In 2007, Chef Jonathan Rollo left the Patina Group to start his own restaurant combining what he has learned from his Mom, family, and friends as well as his travels around the world. An added dimension is his passion for sourcing local, organic ingredients for a fresh, healthier dining experience. In 2008, Executive Chef Kristi Ritchey, also formerly of The Patina Group, joined Chef Jonathan and opened the first Greenleaf location in Beverly Hills. She was the perfect executive chef for the job, losing 110 pounds within a year, following a healthier diet and exercise regimen. Since then, Greenleaf has added two locations, in Century City and, in April 2012, Costa Mesa. SoCal is the perfect place for such a restaurant concept. Greenleaf is situated on the up and coming bustling restaurant row on 17th Street. Upon entering, the interior is very organic and rustic with wood-planked communal tables and adjustable bar stools, cozy wine bar, gourmet shop with local artisan products, and coffee/juice bar. The staff is dressed in working ranch attire, adding to the organic farm ambiance.
They have a large array of sides to choose from. Let’s take a look at some of them:
- Quinoa Salad had the perfect combination of flavors and textures from the nutty almonds, sweet cranberries, and hearty quinoa. Thumbs up, way up!
- Green Lentils tasted almost pickled and a little too sour for my taste, but might be great paired with something on the sweeter side to balance the flavor.
- Yam, Walnuts, and Goat Cheese had a good combination of flavors and textures. The yams were naturally sweet with a soft, smooth texture. The walnuts were sweet and crunchy. The goat cheese was creamy with that unmistakable aroma at the back of the palate. Thumbs up!
Green Apple Soju was refreshing and tasty. It reminded me more of a white sangria, very fruity and crisp. I would order this again! Thumbs up, way up!
Lemongrass Chicken Salad is a masterful blend of Scarsborough Farms baby mixed greens, grilled chicken, mango, grilled pineapple, jicama, toasted coconut, cashews, Thai chili, and Thai basil with lemongrass lychee vinaigrette. It’s a great mix of proteins, vegetables, fruit, and nuts, but kind of fell flat in the flavor department. The vinaigrette was too light. It needed a little more seasoning like some sea salt, ground pepper, and maybe more Thai basil to refresh the palate. I really liked the candied cashews!
The Antioxidant Orchard Salad consists of Scarborough Farms baby mixed greens, grapes, celery, apples, walnuts, dried cranberries, bleu cheese, mint, red onion, cucumbers, blackberries with pomegranate whole grain mustard vinaigrette. Now, this is a flavor explosion of a salad! The grapes were plump and juicy. The celery was crisp and crunchy. The candied walnuts were slightly sweet and smoky in flavor. The dried cranberries added a sweet and sour tanginess. The bleu cheese was creamy and balanced out with the sweetness of the fruits. The blackberries were sweet and popped with juiciness. The vinaigrette was perfect, but you almost don’t require a dressing on this salad. It’s pretty flavorful just as is. Thumbs up, way up!
Kitchen Sink Cobb Salad is iceberg, romaine, tomatoes, egg whites, avocado, carrots, garbanzo beans, bacon, turkey, basil, and bleu cheese with red wine vinaigrette. I love traditional cobb salads, but this one was just a little too healthy for me. I really missed the egg yolk flavor and didn’t really care for the mix of carrots and garbanzo beans in the salad. I know, it’s a Kitchen Sink Cobb Salad, but it just wasn’t my cup of tea. The red wine vinaigrette was a little too light on this one as well. It needed some herbs and sea salt to punch up the flavor.
Turkey Melt on Pretzel Bread is sliced turkey topped with caramelized onions, Dijon mustard, and melted Gruyere cheese. OMG! This sandwich is AMAZING! They had me at pretzel bread. I absolutely love pretzel bread. For example, I can only eat a hot dog from Wienerschnitzel if it is on a pretzel bun. Just love the glazed flavor and slightly sourdough texture. The mix of sliced turkey, sweet caramelized onions, and gooey Gruyere cheese was fantastic! One of the best sandwiches I’ve had in a LONG time! The touch of Dijon mustard was just right. Thumbs up, way up!
Grilled Chicken Panini with Avocado Pesto was okay. It was very light in flavor and the bread was a little overbearing with it density and flavor. It might be better with a lighter bread like a focaccia or pita so the inside of the sandwich can shine.
Wild Mushroom and Truffle “Pizza” is made on a whole wheat tortilla. I would rename this as a flat bread as it is way too thin to be a “pizza” and would fit better as an appetizer. I must say, the flavors are fantastic and would be better suited on a focaccia bread so the truffle oil can infuse all of the nooks and crannies.
Spicy Turkey Sausage & Fennel “Pizza” is made on a whole wheat tortilla. It was nice to have some sausage and spices. This one would be better as a wrap sandwich and add some mixed greens or cilantro lime rice.
Carrot Cake was more like carrot bread. It was not as soft and moist as a traditional carrot cake. The frosting does not resemble the traditional cream cheese frosting that you are accustomed to. It just tasted like vanilla frosting. Nothing too special, but it was definitely a lot healthier than your traditional carrot cake and probably a quarter of the calories.
After dinner, stroll into their juice/coffee bar and store. Browse through local artisan food items, products, and Greenleaf to-go items. One of my favorites, the Sauce Goddess from San Diego, has a variety of spices to choose from. Grab a coffee or smoothie to go and enjoy!
- Happy Hour: Every day from 3pm-5pm - $85 soju cocktails, $4 tap beer, $4 glass of wine, $5 “pizzas”, 2 for 1 Sides Dishes or Small Plates.
Atmosphere: 4 out of 5 stars
Décor: 5 out of 5 stars
Service: 5 out of 5 stars
Food: 4 out of 5 stars
For more information:
Greenleaf Gourmet Chopshop (inside Hilgren Square Shopping Center)
234 E 17th St
Costa Mesa, CA 92627
- Hours: Daily from 8:00am to 9:00pm