Upon hearing the name “Tender Greens,” I thought that the place I would be reviewing was an obscure salad bar. Boy, was I wrong.
Occupying a little corner of the UTC mall, Tender Greens is sleek and modern, with soft guitar music melting into its romantic atmosphere of dim, rustic lights that gently illuminate the plastic chairs scattered throughout the restaurant’s chic interior.
Fortunately, I was able to zip through the short line of customers and place my order within of a few minutes. I ordered a Chipotle Barbecue Chicken Sandwich served with Romaine Hearts ($12), Rustic Chicken Soup ($5), and a plate of butter lettuce, mashed potatoes and fried chicken ($12.50). With tax, the order cost approximately $32, a price that seemed a tad overpriced compared to the surprisingly small portion of food on my plates.
Almost instinctively, my fork dove toward the salad which included the cool, emerald-green butter lettuce and romaine hearts. Much to my disappointment, my appetite was quickly spoiled when I tried the romaine hearts. Coated with a thick blanket of sharp parmesan cheese and Caesar dressing, the romaine hearts were overwhelmingly salty, which made it difficult for me to fully enjoy the crispness and freshness of the lettuce. On the other hand, I was pleased to discover that the butter lettuce, with its incredibly silky leaves that were actually as smooth as butter, proved successful in living up to its name.
After being somewhat unimpressed by the greens, my fork hovered indecisively over the heart of the meal: the sandwich, potatoes, fried chicken and soup. Although the chicken soup and mashed potatoes were both nicely seasoned, made with the right degree of saltiness and fluffiness, respectively, looked appetizing, they were really nothing spectacular, especially when taking their slightly expensive prices into account.
By then, I was seriously considering whether my expectations for the restaurant were unrealistically high or whether my taste buds were failing me, since I had read many positive reviews about Tender Greens on Yelp as I waited at the table for the food to be served. Thankfully, the fried chicken did not disappoint. On the outside, it looked like your average fried chicken, but the satisfying crunchiness of the golden-brown crumble and the warm, tender meat hidden beneath was heavenly. Wedged snugly between two halves of toasted baguette, the grilled chicken in the barbecue sandwich was scrumptious; the meat, cut up into small blocks, was savory, juicy and infused with an aromatic, citrusy tang from the flavorful lime salsa. In general, the chicken sandwich was definitely the key component of the meal, as it allowed me to forgive the mediocrity of the romaine hearts served alongside the sandwich.
By the time I had finished eating, I was relatively full, though not particularly satisfied with the meal as a whole.
Although it is true that Tender Greens does offer a wide array of foods, the fact that the food was just decent and not “damn amazing,” as its website claims, was a big letdown for me. While my experience of dining at Tender Greens was not as enjoyable as I had hoped for it to be, the restaurant is still on the list of places where I would want to grab a quick bite after a long day of shopping at UTC.