Local Bistro chef-owner German Osio cleans up his act with fresh, healthful fast-casual fare.
In recent years, “clean” has re-emerged as a culinary buzzword. There are myriad newspaper articles spotlighting the value of local ingredients, and books like Eating Clean for Dummies and chef/nutritionist Terry Walters’ seasonal guide Clean Food paving the way for minimally processed meals. Perhaps it’s nature’s way of balancing out the restaurant industry’s ubiquitous bacon and doughnut trends.
Now we find restaurateur German Osio of Local Bistro and Sumo Maya hopping on the health wagon with Scottsdale’s Kale & Clover, a fast-casual eatery spotlighting cold-pressed juices and vegetarian/vegan-friendly cuisine. With its weathered wood, crisp white-and-green color palette, and healthful menu featuring add-on proteins, it’s difficult to avoid comparisons to competitor Sam Fox’s Flower Child – which recently opened a second location. The two eateries are clearly cousins in look and feel, if not ownership.
How does Kale & Clover distinguish itself? With light, refreshing takes on heartier global fare such as chicken paillard (pounded and sautéed cutlets) and steak banh mi. It’s a limited but tight menu. Executive chef Chris Mayo’s Asian offerings are particularly inspired, with vegetarian versions of meaty staples that often outclass the originals.
The shiitake broth of Mayo’s “faux” pho ($14), for example, is tastier than most of the beef stocks in my Asian-dominated Chandler neighborhood. Its rich, caramelized mushroom flavor is boosted by a dash of cinnamon and spicy chile slices that contrast with the fresh, green taste of snap peas and bean sprouts. Tender, well-marinated meat and garlicky pickled veggies are highlights of the delectable Vietnamese steak sandwich ($15), while tangy, delightfully sour housemade sambal makes Kale & Clover’s avocado summer roll a fun starter ($6).
Of the Asian-inspired options, soba noodle salad ($10) is the sole disappointment. Overly vinegary citrus-soy dressing and whole mint leaves dominate the dish, burying the natural freshness of broccoli and carrots in bitter aftertaste. If you’re feeling the need for rabbit food, try the gluten-free Kale & Clover salad with crisp apples and tangy sherry-agave dressing, or the aptly named superfood salad with avocado, beets and almonds ($10 each). Chewy apricots and tart lemon dressing balance out the latter’s starchy quinoa base, resulting in a summery salad that begs to be consumed outdoors on a cozy banquette.
Mayo is masterful with greens, using kale as a bitter foil for spicy turkey sausage in penne pasta ($14) and adding just enough arugula and zesty Italian peperonata to make citrusy chicken paillard pop ($14). Grassy basil pesto lends garden-fresh flavor to perfectly poached eggs Florentine ($7), while smoky chipotle salsa and a side of nicely charred sweet potato hash are the highlights of an otherwise lackluster egg-white burrito ($9). Pair these morning staples with sweet, slightly grainy almond-date milk ($10) or the eye-opening Cleanse juice blend with cayenne ($7) for a healthful breakfast that’s anything but bland.
Let’s be frank: Health food is a hard sell. The mere mention of Kale & Clover’s eponymous veggies causes children – and picky adults! – to wrinkle their noses in distaste. But thanks to well-seasoned Asian-inspired dishes, zesty dressings and naturally beautiful ingredients, Osio’s take on fresh fare is tasty enough to draw more than just the dieting crowd back for seconds.
Kale & Clover Mindful Kitchen
Cuisine: Healthy, American
Contact: 20511 N. Hayden Rd., Scottsdale, 480-568-8707, kaleandclover.com
Hours: Breakfast 7-11 a.m. daily; lunch and dinner 11 a.m.-9 p.m. daily
Highlights: “Faux” pho ($14); Vietnamese steak sandwich ($15); avocado summer roll ($6); superfood salad ($10); chicken paillard ($14); eggs Florentine ($7); almond date milk ($10); Cleanse cold-pressed juice ($7)
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