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Thursday, March 10, 2011

Forage: Good Roasted Veggies and Interesting Salads

I love the concept of Forage, which distinguishes itself from other "locavore," "slow food movement" types by offering "best of the backyard" of people. So if you happen to have, say, an avocado tree in your backyard and always wonder what to do with hundreds of avocados each year, Forage can help. It reminded me a of friend in Seattle who had a fig tree in her yard and one summer she harvested so many figs she bought a fig cook book to cook and bake all things fig. But there's only so much you can do that for.

Anyway, I was excited to try this place. It was a much more casual place than I had anticipated. It was like a cafeteria of ready-made food you pick up at the counter, pay and eat at open tables. It was packed.

The verdict is that it's above average but not sure it's a place I would seek out. There are some basic limitations to eating at a place where the temperature of the food served (flank steak that night -- menu changes daily) is an issue, seats are first-come, first-serve and most things are self-service. It's really a cafe.

Now for the food. We got the medium protein plate, which comes with two sides of my choice. One plate was the flank steak marinated in herbs and garlic with sweet potato gratin and mixed roasted vegetables. Second plate was rotisserie chicken with mac-n-cheese and a beet salad.

The steak tasted like galbi -- the classic Korean ribs marinated in soy sauce and garlic plus other good stuff -- which wasn't shocking since the owner Jason Kim is Korean. I found it a tad on the salty side, even for this sodium fiend.

My favorite thing on my plate were the grilled vegetables, which included turnips, carrots and brussel sprouts, to name a few. The vegetables were obviously fresh and grown locally and thankfully, minimal preparation brought out the best of their natural flavors and textures.

The roasted chicken was ok but nothing amazing. I much prefer to buy my own chickens in Japanese markets and roast them myself. The mac-n-cheese was also average -- good enough but nothing remarkable.

What stood out in my companion's plate was the very interesting yellow beet salad that came with chopped up hard-boiled eggs, crumbled feta cheese, green onions and fennel. The flavors melded well together and it was a combination I'd never had before, so it was a welcome surprise.

Now for the biggest dud of all -- the gratin. Whoever said the sweet potatoes had to be drowning in butter for a gratin to be good? It had so much butter that butter was all I could taste. I love butter but not if it overpowers my food. It should complement it. Such a pity, since I love sweet potatoes. But I couldn't finish it. Yuck.

I'm glad I tried it. It's decent food at decent prices but ultimately not enough for me to make a point of going back.

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