Monday, July 27, 2009

The Love is Back: Whole Foods Grill Seduces with Summer Menu

Posted By on Mon, Jul 27, 2009 at 6:53 AM

click to enlarge catfishspectacle.jpg

In my topsy turvy romance with the Grill at Green Hills inside Whole Foods, let me just say that we are back on again.

After an initial infatuation--and subsequent love-letter of a review--my ardor cooled when a couple of visits went awry.

But a recent trip to try the new summer menu found the Grill once again firing on all cylinders.

The crab cake BLT was as excellent as we remembered, sweet and lumpy, with little to no breadcrumbs or filler, and served on a soft sweet whole wheat bun with a remoulade. The decadent side of bronzed thick-cut fries dusted with salt and fresh dill made a good thing even better.

But the pièce de résistance was the new catfish dish on the "Specatacles" menu. Sweet, flaky catfish in a cornmeal coating emerged from the fryer piping-hot and virtually greaseless, to be showcased atop a beautiful still life of lemon-roasted cauliflower, wilted spinach and charred onion-tomato-compote. The rich roasted flavors were offset by a cool bright aioli and zesty leaves of fresh arugula. A medley of colors and a study in contrasts--hot, cold, crispy, creamy--this lunch-counter dish could hold its own on any white table cloth at a price point well above its $11 pay-grade.

I suspect the whole experience benefitted from our early lunch date--at 11:30 a.m. there was only a small handful of diners around the horseshoe counter, so our food was delivered correctly and quickly. In the past, things have gone wobbly when the Grill was full and the small staff was overrun.

Angela Bartlett, an alumnus of Margot Cafe who joined Whole Foods through the Wild Oats merger, masterminded the new summer menu, and we'll look forward to sampling more of the new roster--especially the fish tacos and pulled chicken and cucumber-tomato salad sandwich. Of course, by then, word of the catfish spectacle will have made the rounds, and the Grill likely will be crowded again. Oh well, as long as the Grill and I continue this tumultuous relationship, there's always a good reason to return.

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