Lemonade: Underwhelming but beautiful for your just desserts

The title says it all. Lemonade in Beverly Hills did not measure up. I have been wanting to check Lemonade out ever since they started popping up around town a couple of years ago. The concept is simple: pre-made salads, entrees, and side dishes in a cafeteria-style arrangement presented in crystal clear display cases in a steel-clad storefront. The twist? Gourmet renditions of summer-time picnic classics, which result in something very much unlike your aunt’s Fourth of July pasta salad unless she was specially trained by the likes of Martha Stewart and Alice Waters. The trademark? Their namesake lemonades– about five or six different flavors of house-made lemonades such as their Watermelon Rosemary lemonade and their cucumber melon.

Sounds pretty good right? So where’s the beef? The beef in this dining experience roots from the fact that lunch for two shouldn’t clock in at $32 when the portions are meager, the food is pre-prepared and require no heating (all cold dishes). There is no wait service (per se) and no alcohol in the order to help boost the final check up. $32?! Quite disappointing. Now, I am usually a pretty frugal gal when it comes to shopping, but I love food (good food) so much, that I never mind spending a little more on a good meal. Yesterday’s lunch however, just didn’t seem worth it.

The highlight of my meal was dessert and my beverage. I got the layered banana marscapone cake, which was just a little bit dry but very, very delicious. The marscapone frosting made up for my very underwhelming meal. To drink, I got the blueberry mint lemonade. Divine. Not too tart, but not too sweet either. The mint was especially refreshing while sitting in their wonderful outdoor patio.

The lowlights, to be fair, aren’t completely low. I enjoyed my poached salmon with a Dijon-dill sauce and my Parmesean-balsamic glazed brussel sprouts were perfectly cooked. The lowest part of this meal were the lobster soba noodles, which were something I had been excited to try. Yes, there were generous amounts of real lobster in this dish, but it was entirely too salty, and that is coming from someone who could eat bacon and McDonald’s French fries before bed. There was just something not right about having such a beautifully constructed summer noodle salad that tasted like you were gargling sea water. Absolute fail.

Ryan got the same noodles as a side to his perfectly seared ahi tuna. I’ll give them that much, they know how to sear each side of the fish evenly, which is something other places (like Swingers) should probably learn to do.

While I did have a nice time at Lemonade, I think that this will be a place I will frequent for their desserts and lemonade. I don’t think I’ll be rushing to lunch here again any time soon unless they start offering something that will give me more bang for my buck. In a city that is so great for lunch, there are just so many other options that are better than Lemonade. It’s a shame…this place would have been perfect had they just put a little more effort forth. Notes: You can get half and half sides, which I guess it neat if you’re indecisive, they have parking hidden in the back down on Almont, they use biodegradable utensils.

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