Widgets Magazine

Food review: When life gives you lemons, go to “Lemonade”

“Lemonade” — no, not the drink or the Queen Bey record — is the trendy restaurant chain from SoCal that recently opened a branch in Palo Alto. The newest Bay Area location on University Ave. has generated lots of buzz since its June opening. It boasts seasonal food, focusing more on greens and less on meat. The dishes are fun combinations of various tastes, most of which are inventive creations. The menu also changes five times a year, with additional holiday specials.

When speaking of how executive chef and creator Alan Jackson and his wife Heidi Jackson came up with the idea, Director of Marketing and Public Relations JoAnn Cianciulli said, “They kind of felt, hey, let’s kind of create this concept of…vegetable-centric fast food, if you willfast casual, where you can kind of pick and choose your adventure.”

In the heart of Palo Alto, Lemonade blends right in with the vibrant culture, serving as a hot new hangout spot for young adults and families alike. The spacious eatery consists of a comfortable inside dining area as well as an open outside patio. With a sunny yellow color scheme and lemon-themed interior design, there’s no doubt the aesthetics play a large part in Lemonade’s attraction.

Lemonade is a cafeteria-style restaurant in which customers can first sample and then pick portions of dishes from various food sections: Marketplace, Leafy Greens, Land & Sea, Sandwiches, Hot Dishes, Desserts and Lemonades (the best for last, of course). First-timers might find the process confusing, as the staff do not offer an explanation of the workings of the restaurant. Other than that, the service is generally welcoming.

First in line is Marketplace, where customers can select servings from a mixture of appetizers and greens. The scoops are pretty generous, so you can request a smaller serving if needed. The colorful presentation of the Sesame Marinated Lo Mein Noodles ($2.95) stands out amongst the others. The noodles are refreshingly chilled and packed with flavor but slightly on the salty side. The carrots and soybeans add a nice crunch that complements the soft noodles well. All in all, the flavors balance out perfectly.

From Land & Sea, the Citrus Poached Salmon Fillet ($6.95) leaves the strongest impression. The lemon gives the fish a juicy tang, and the fillet has a tender touch to it. The herbs and spices mesh with the lemon to create a light protein ensemble best for the summer.

In the Hot Dishes section, the Red Miso Beef ($7.95) is the clear winner, consisting of succulent meat topped by a rich sauce completed by the hint of miso paste. Like others, this one does get a bit salty, but pairing it with something starchy makes a great meal. An ideal partner is the Traditional Mac N Cheese ($4.50), whose subdued cheesiness and smooth texture give just the right umphf.

The desserts are located at the end of the procession and they present a broad selection (cakes, macarons, you name it). The Blondie bar ($5.00) resembles a regular brownie, but adds vanilla and brown sugar instead of your typical cocoa. The sweetness isn’t the problem (it’s actually just right)it’s whether you can still fit it in your already stuffed stomach. Though you feel like you’re just eating a little bit of each dish, the abundance of ingredients and spices are sure to fill you up fast.

And of course, when you’re at Lemonade, you have to try the lemonade. The Blood Orange is a sugary substitute for the more sour classic drink. If you’re up for a different version, give the Guava Limeade a shot. It isn’t as sweet as the Blood Orange and offers a more unique taste, all the while sticking true to the fruit’s tropical origins. All of the lemonade options are $3.50, probably the most reasonable price in the restaurant. The food is a bit on the expensive side, but it’s understandable considering Lemonade’s location.

With an innovative menu and increasing popularity, it seems the restaurant will continue to satisfy customers. There are a few dishes that could be improved, but since Lemonade is relatively new, it’s bound to improve over time. The concept, the food and the lemonade all promise an exciting future for the eatery in Palo Alto.

Contact Ashley Chuong at ashleychang47@gmail.com and Ashley Phuong at ashleyaphuong@gmail.com.