By Jim and Marilyn Tortolano
It took Edison hundreds of tries to perfect the light bulb. It took the Egyptians 20 years to build the Great Pyramid. John Wooden didn’t win his first NCAA basketball title coaching UCLA until his 16th season at Westwood.
Sometimes talent and execution take a while to come together. The same might be said of Lemonade, a noteworthy eatery in the Pacific City development on Pacific Coast Highway in Huntington Beach. A kind of food bar, Lemonade – part of a growing regional chain – recreates fast food with an upscale and bright approach. The cuisine is seasonal, which means that the offerings in July will differ from what’s available in October.
It’s an interesting idea, and the food is first-class. But there’s the problem. If you’re not a foodie into trendy permutations of the latest fads in cuisine, you may find yourself without much to get excited about.
There are vegan and vegetarian menus, salads, sandwiches, hot dishes and dessert items, including the signature lemonade (it’s excellent, and there are several varieties). But one has to wonder about the market for shaved brussels sprout and dates, or the New Mexican chile roasted butternut squash.
The head chef seems to be in love with avocados; they are in no less than seven dishes. There are six dishes cooked with jalapenos.
Marilyn had the whiskey apple BBQ brisket, which was very good, but the avocado and cherry tomato dish with pine nuts and lime cilantro dressing lacked what she called “sparkle.” It tasted like avocados and tomatoes just piled on a plate.
Jim had the grilled chicken breast, which is served chilled. That was remarkably tasty. But the smoked tri-tip and fingerling potatoes – with avocado and chipotle vinaigrette – was just about inedible for him. Those additions didn’t enhance the flavor of the meat and potatoes, but took away from them. Sometimes less is more.
In defense of the friendly and efficient people at the local Lemonade, they did urge customers to take a sample of each dish before ordering it. We recommend that. If you’re into the cutting edge of 21st century cuisine you may well like Lemonade a lot.
But if you would prefer a menu that leans a little less on the fashions and more on the basics, you might wish that Lemonade takes its good idea – a food bar in a bright, cheery setting – and steers it back a little more toward the middle of the road.
Lemonade is located at 21016 Pacific Coast Highway, Huntington Beach. Hours are 11 a.m. to 9:05 p.m. daily. Call (714) 604-1072. Website: http://www.lemonadela.com/locations/orange-county/huntington-beach
Categories: Arts & Leisure