Tender Greens Provides a Little TLC

Joel Lee, Contributing Writer

Tender Greens, a growing California-based chain of fast, healthy comfort food, has finally made its East Coast debut near Union Square at 900 Broadway. Tender Greens holds a high standard on its quality and emphasizes sustainably sourced food. Each location has an executive chef and prides itself on its high level of service. This modern restaurant follows the hype of chains similar to Sweetgreen, as a cashless food restaurants catering to on-the-go professionals and students looking for healthy and satisfying meals with customizable plates, sandwiches, soups and drinks. Its interior design screams minimalistic, and the service is fast and friendly.

Tender Greens is not particularly distinct from its competitors. My friends and I arrived during the restaurant’s slower dinner hours ready to eat. Between us we ordered the Fried Chicken Sandwich, the Chef’s Special Pork Bolognese Cavatelli and the Backyard Marinated Steak Salad — the restaurant marks this steak as a staple to their plates and salads. Despite the array of options and the quality of the food, the pricing and the portion size make Tender Greens a hard sell as a go-to, daily spot. The steak salad was mainly a regular salad with some medium rare slices of quality steak while the cavatelli and fried chicken sandwich had surprising hints of sweet and savory. The ingredients were clearly fresh, but I wish the portions were larger.

Steinhardt freshman Ryan Tsai reflected on his experience, going against the popular buzz Tender Greens has received on Yelp.

“The food was above par,” Tsai said.  “But for its price point, it lacked any remarkable aspects that would justify paying $14 plus for a salad with five pieces of beef.”

What was noteworthy about Tender Greens was the service. Employees welcomed us with enthusiasm and warmth. I watched from my table as each incoming customer was greeted hospitably while servers were constantly checking in to make sure I was enjoying my own experience. The friendly atmosphere reflected the founders’ emphasises on their values and goals to build a community and provide quality food for all.

Tender Greens is definitely worth a try for days when you desperately want to eat anything but dining hall food or can’t stomach cooking at home. It’s quick and simple, and Tender Greens really emphasizes its to-go service and app, catering towards its busy New York consumers. It may not have that unique and memorable restaurant character, but it meets your food needs. I’d recommend going for lunch, as the portions reflect that time of day, and ordering something hearty like a plate or a sandwich. Tender Greens may be trite, but it is still, for New York’s costly standards, a convenient place to eat for the occasional indulgence.

A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, Feb. 20 print edition. Email Joel Lee at [email protected].