Considering the restaurant is practically custom-made for ladies who lunch, it’s surprising it took Café Clover as long as it did to expand beyond dinner. Not that in today’s increasingly health-conscious society, the eatery is in any way geared towards females, but designed to fit seamlessly into anyone’s fitness-focused lifestyle, with each dish vetted and approved by a board-certified nutritionist.
However, with David Standridge in the kitchen — the longtime chef at the nearby Market Table — Café Clover is far from being a white-tablecloth version of Sweetgreen. In fact, salads comprise only a small section of the current lunch menu, and each one is meal-worthy in its own right– from an elegant Nicoise with eggs, haricot vert and olives, drizzled in a nutty, hemp seed basil vinaigrette to a hearty Chopped Salad, bulked out with marinated mushrooms, sunflower kernels, and colorful early tomatoes. A starter of Market Crudite, sporting a cornucopia of goodies daily sourced from local farm stands, makes it easy to eat your veggies; especially when dipped in the accompanying ramekins of creamy green goddess and sesame ranch. And if a nutritionist compels us to eat Burrata, who are we to argue, especially when it’s amply adorned with seasonal produce, such as pickled cherries, spring peas and red watercress?
A Cauliflower “Steak” smeared with romesco was a bit too ascetic for our tastes, but you can easily up the protein quotient by ordering a Goffle Farm Pounded Chicken Breast, Grilled Local Porgy with rye berry tabouleh, or a nutty tumble of Quinoa Tagliatelle instead, tossed with earthy maitake mushrooms and vitamin-rich beet greens. There’s even a Cheeseburger on offer (pasture raised, on a sweet potato rosemary bun), although you might as well stay on message with the Beet and Mushroom Veggie version, swiped with sticky tahini and sweet potato jam. And besides, it will give you carte blanche to indulge in one of the uncommonly interesting cocktails as well, such as the Cherry and Turmeric Sazerac, or Peach and Saffron Shrub, or perhaps a glass or two of rosé — which, we’d just as soon assume, is fully endorsed by Café Clover’s diligent, on-staff nutritionist.