Green Tomato Grill
1419 N. Tustin St.
Orange, CA 92867
A lot of people think that I have a bias against healthy food. This is simply not true. I have a bias against food that does not taste good, and yes it is true, most of the time food that is good for you, usually does not taste good to me. So needless to say, I was a little skeptical about Green Tomato Grill. Their website features the word that almost always has me scurrying to another restaurant, and that word is "healthy".
I decided we would give this place a shot though. Chef Kyle Markt is the man behind the food at Green Tomato Grill. Just from an email he sent, I could sense that he is very passionate about this concept. Fast, healthy, and tasty seemed to be the key words he wanted people to know about this restaurant. They also try to source their products locally, so they know exactly where they come from. The menu is a hybrid of cuisines, ranging from Asian, Hispanic, and Mediterranean, which are used in new American favorites. Okay, I was starting to get a little more excited about this place.
We made it to Green Tomato Grill at about 5PM on a recent Monday night. We were on our way to bowling, but we had plenty of time to enjoy our meal at GTG. When we pulled up, I remembered that this location used to be a Green Burrito back in the day. I used to eat here after bowling at the long gone, Regal Lanes. Now that GTG has taken over, they have a small patio out front, with a small running fountain. The restaurant is small, maybe ten or so tables. The staff was very helpful in explaining the concept and the menu to both Katie and I. Ordering is done at the counter, then the food is brought out to your table. We ordered more than enough food for the two of us, but there was a lot we wanted to try here. Let's see what we thought about the food at Green Tomato Grill.
Bet you were not expecting Popped Corn ($1) to be the first thing we reviewed at GTG. This unusual restaurant food is seasoned with sunflower oil and adobo seasoning. This tasted real good. It was seasoned well, and was very fresh. This might have stood out for me because it was not popped in a microwave, and I have not had fresh popcorn in forever. Made me think back to when I was a kid, and got the popcorn that they had at Sears. We had lots of food still coming out for us, so we ended up taking this on the road, but we ate so much of it, that it did not make it inside the bowling alley with us.
Full disclosure, I am not the worlds biggest lover of tomatoes. I do not mind the flavor of them, but it is more of a texture issue for me. I will eat them, but only in small doses. Katie really wanted to try the Fried Green Tomatoes ($2), and my thoughts are always, if it fried, I will try it. The first thing I noticed about these tomatoes were that they were not greasy, thus I did not get a heaviness that you get with a lot of fried foods. They pair this with their GTG Dipping sauce, which is a mixture of their chipotle BBQ sauce and their Mediterranean dip. I would have liked these better with a different sauce, more in the line of a ranch dressing, but of course GTG is geared towards more healthy dressings and sauces. The tomatoes were good on their own though.
Another unusual item that I have not seen on any other menus were these Crispy Chick Peas ($2). These were interesting. I liked them, but thought that they might need some kind of sauce to go along with them. Considering the two dollar price tag, I felt that the serving size of these was more than generous. More of a light snack, than something I would consider ordering with dinner next time.
Kate will start off our entree portion of the evening with her selection, the Greek Chicken Melt ($7.75). This flatbread came with marinated grilled chicken, Monterrey and Jack cheeses, peppers, onions, and cilantro, all sandwiched by a naan bread that they get from Clay Oven in Irvine. The flatbread sandwich is served with a side of tzatziki sauce, which gives it, its Greek flair. This is their best seller, according to the owner we spoke to during our visit. Katie was very pleased with this. The bread had a good crunch to it, the inside ingredients were all fresh, and the chicken was pretty tender. She denoted several different flavors working here. The chicken and cheese were noticeable, but so was a hint of citrus. The tzatziki sauce went very well with this flatbread. She was a happy girl after devouring this.
This fine looking bowl of food is the Chili Verde Steak Bowl ($6.75) This bowl starts with a cilantro lime rice and a chili verde sauce, then is topped with marinated steak, black beans, corn, cilantro, onions, peppers, and avocado. The flavors here were present, but I was really looking for a big pop of flavor. I found out later that they have a spicier version of their chili verde sauce, but you have to ask for it. The hot sauces above did the trick, by bringing the heat level up to where I wanted it. The steak kind of got lost here a bit, overshadowed by all the rest of the items in the bowl. It was tender, but I would have liked bigger pieces of steak, so maybe it would have stood out more. The rest of the dish was very fresh, and really filled me up, but not in a heavy way.
Yes they have dessert at GTG also. I think we tried one of everything that they offered. The desserts come from a bakery in Fountain Valley, known as Sensitive Sweets. They specialize in making desserts that are gluten free, with no eggs, dairy, tree nuts, or soy. No surprise, but these are not my kind of desserts. The best of the bunch for me was the Cookie Dough Truffle. It was the one that most resembled an actual dessert.
Okay, I left Green Tomato Grill feeling pretty good about the dinner I just had for myself. I was full, but not overly stuffed. I knew that food I had just consumed was pretty good for me, and I still liked it. All of the food that we had was very fresh, and prepared well. I would definitely forgo the desserts on our next visits here, but there is definitely more of their menu that I would like to explore. They have some stews that look pretty good, along with other flatbreads that piqued my interest. The staff we encountered on this visit were very helpful explaining things, and the owner that we talked to really seemed proud of the food they were serving here. Glad I could prove that I actually like healthy food, as long as it tastes good.
Out of five yellowhammer's (which is the state bird of Alabama, and the setting for the book and novel Fried Green Tomatoes), five being best to zero being worst, Green Tomato Grill gets 3 yellowhammers.
For more information about Green Tomato Grill, click here: http://www.greentomatogrill.com/index.html