Lemonade, the popular Los Angeles-based fast-casual chainlet that’s part lemonade stand and part modern cafeteria-style eatery, officially opened its first Orange County location in the Fashion Island Shopping Center in mid-August. Their concept is best described as a Southern California comfort food with a focus on fresh seasonal ingredients and familiar dishes with an unexpected twist. They cater to people who care about what they eat and are looking for a quick lunch or healthy “grab and go” dinner for the family and who love lemonade!
Lemonade’s rotating selection of marketplace salads, unique sandwiches and pizzas and the slow simmering stews capture the adventurous culinary spirit of SoCal and reflect the broad cultural influences that abound in Southern California. Chef and Founder, Alan Jackson puts it simply, “I like to think of Lemonade as a choose-your-own-adventure for lunch or dinner. A delicious and healthy change of pace, Lemonade marries quality and convenience.”
The Lemonade philosophy is an ideal choice for visitors to Fashion Island – Newport Beach’s upscale, open-air shopping destination. Situated on the second level near Island Cinema, it’s also a great place to stop for a quick bite pre-theatre if you don’t have time for a sit-down dinner prior to showtime.
Lots of indoor seating in the bright, modern space as well as sunny outdoor patio seating. (photo credit: Austin Trask)
Friendly servers are prepared to answer questions. Samples are available, but tend to hold up the line…
Choose wisely if you want to keep calories in check.
Lemonade invited a slew of Orange County food writers and industry folks for a media tasting and to run the team through the paces before their opening. The operation seemed to be running quite smoothly and I was pleasantly surprised at the quality of the ingredients and the unique salad selections.
Here’s how it works: pick up a tray, begin by perusing the salad selection – as with all Lemonade locations, a revolving selection of twenty marketplace salads are featured every day. The portions are substantial and very affordable considering: one portion is $2.75, two – $5.25, three – $7.50 etc. If there are two of you dining, you could easily select two choices each and have four different salads to try OR you can ask your server to split the portions, and they will oblige. Keep in mind that Land & Sea (main dish salads). sandwiches, pizzas, soups, stews, and dessert are further down the line.
Herb Grilled Chicken w/Basil Pesto Ciabatta served with Arugula
I tried to keep my plate relatively light and went with the Snap peas, edamame, sesame salad, the Italian chop vegetables with garbanzo beans and gruyere cheese, and the Seared Ahi Tuna with orange-ginger ponzu and a few samples cups of other salads that appealed to me. The Seared Ahi Tuna was excellent – rare, perfectly seared and the sauce was a delightful combination of bright citrus and sweet/tart flavors.
Some people went all out, but between the samples and being among friends and trying their salads I was able to pick some favorites. Pictured below, the snap pea, edamame, sesame salad (far left), the Watermelon radish with chunks of ahi tuna, snap peas, black sesame, ginger (far right) and the Tandoori chicken with jalapeño, green mango, coconut, tamarind (upper middle).
The luscious pastel cake is the Strawberry Lemonade Cake ♥
Let’s not forget the lemonade! There are six flavors to choose from: Old-Fashioned lemonade, blood orange (I had this one), cucumber mint, blueberry mint, watermelon rosemary, guava limeade and Arnold Palmer (1/2 tea, 1/2 lemonade) – all $3.00. The lemonade selection will vary somewhat from season to season. Everyone raved about the lemonade!
Unique to the new Orange County location is a wood burning oven for roasting vegetables and pizzas/flatbreads and a rotisserie for preparing whole roast rib-eye, leg of lamb and chicken. Naturally, I had to order a fig pizza for the table, especially after Chef/Founder Alan Jackson told me the figs were from his tree at home. How fresh is that!
Chef Jackson believes every meal must end with a little sweet something, so don’t forget about the cookies, cupcakes, brownies, and macaroons. Giant macaroons! I can’t really comment on the desserts because I didn’t have any – but they looked scrumptious!
A mini red velvet cupcake($1.00) next to the over-sized macaroons ($3.50)
I definitely want to go back when it’s cooler and venture into the comfort food territory, Lemonade offers everything from mac & cheese, to pot roast served in rustic sourdough rolls to BBQ brisket, miso beef short ribs, stroganoff, and lemongrass chicken. In the meantime, for our next movie date night – sometimes we pay the big bucks for those reserved big comfy seats at Island Cinema – hubs (who loves lemonade) and I will see how Lemonade rates on the low sodium scale.
987 NEWPORT CENTER DRIVE
AT FASHION ISLAND MALL
NEWPORT BEACH, CA 92660
OPEN DAILY: 11:00 a.m. to 9:05 p.m.