9523 Culver Blvd
Culver City, CA 90232
Occasionally I bribe a friend or family member to guestblog on The Delicious Life. Most of the time, they vehemently refuse to associate in order to protect their reputations, but every once in a while, an unsuspecting friend will agree to do it because I lied about what he or she gets in return. This post is written by Ryan Kim, an old friend of mine who isn't getting that, uh, date with me after all. Sorry, Ry! Thanks for the post! Love you! Call me!
I’ve been thinking of the idea of "settling" lately.
It started before my friend sent me an article from Atlantic Monthly titled ever so subtly “Marry Him!” But it’s picked up steam as I near 35, an age that seemed so distant a little while ago but approaches with unrelenting speed these days.
The actual age doesn’t bother me so much. It’s the freight it carries -- expectations that seem to grow heavier the longer you cart them around. I tell myself that I don’t abide by anyone else’s timetable, and yet I find my own is almost as unforgiving as the next. Why don’t I have this yet, why am I still doing that? Where’s the wife? The pitter-patter of little feet? All that good grown-up stuff that should be at least within shouting distance, but still seem just about as far away as they did back in junior high school?
With those mounting questions, the easy answer would be to settle. That’s what we really ought to do, argues Lori Gottlieb in Atlantic Monthly.
Holding out for more is a fool’s quest, she says. Just go with someone you trust and get along with and you’ll find that companionship outweighs this elusive feeling of passion and kismet. Having a teammate who has your back is more important than finding The One.
I’m reminded of this article as I think back on a recent visit to Tender Greens in Culver City.
The place, a glorified salad shop, is hardly my idea of a perfect restaurant. We have something quite similar up here in the Bay Area called Pluto’s, which dishes up salads, grilled meats and sides. Not seeing much difference between the two initially, I was prepared to pass quick judgment on it.
But in my newly enlightened, or perhaps age-addled, frame of mind, I began to see Tender Greens in a different light. It’s not about comparing it to other restaurants but simply appreciating it for what it brings to the table.
And when I started to back off my expectations, I found there was a lot to like about Tender Greens.
I had the Angus Flank Steak over a spinach salad with goat cheese. I got the mashed potatoes and I threw in a chicken soup with lemon thyme. The steak I expected would be a bit stubborn and chewy but this was some tender and tasty meat. The mashed potatoes melted in my mouth, a wondrous concoction that managed to be both rich and creamy and yet seemingly light as well. The rather naked soup was earthy and hearty, full of big exposed chicken chunks that begged for a stray noodle or two for cover. Even without some extra carbs, it was a nice comforting addition to my meal.
Was it a transformative experience? Did it capture my senses? Was it a riot of the heart?!?!
Eh, not really.
But, I’m realizing more and more, that has been my downfall in the past.
For so long, I’ve looked for someone who could ignite conversations with me, make them combustible in a way that was exciting, unexpected and a little dangerous. I was looking for a person who was not only attractive but managed to be witty, intelligent, caring and aware in a way that made you lean in to the conversation, fearful you might miss something important. I thought I would be a good match for just such a soul, but in hindsight, maybe I was over-reaching. Maybe all I really need is the equivalent of Tender Greens.
Tender Greens won’t be winning any awards soon but it’s comforting and warm and it provides a dose of familiarity and goodness that can grow on you over time.
Maybe that’s what I need. Settling isn’t settling if you reconcile yourself to your newfound wants and needs. I’m not saying that I’m there yet in my personal life but Tender Greens makes me think that my personal future isn’t so bleak after all.
Tender-ness, Where (Else) is it?
~ Full five stars from 45 reviews on Citysearch
~ Overwhelming 224 ratings on Yelp average to 4 (out of 5) stars
~ MetroMix says Tender Greens makes an impossible oxymoron, "healthy and delicious," possible
~ A chowhound calls it "excellent"
~ The Hungry Hippo: "d
efinitely refreshing" (Dec 2006)
~ la.foodblogging's KT would "love to have one near work" for lunch (Nov 2006)
~ Mikey Hates Everything: "absolutely delicious" (Jul 2006)
~ Foodie Universe: "delivers"(Jul 2006)
~ Chance that Rate-a-Restaurant will go back? "decent possibility." (Jul 2006)
~ Triplecreme apparently went more than once in one month (Jun 2006)