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Let's Do Lunch: Coral Tree Cafe

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There are some great lunches to be had in this town, and we want to celebrate the midday meal. So, let's do lunch, shall we?

In September 2008, a fire in the kitchen of Brentwood's Coral Tree Cafe left lovers of the restaurant's casual comfort food at a loss. Cherished by families, students, and even a couple of the ladies who come down from The Hills, the eatery re-opened a year and day after the devastating fire, kicked off 2010 with a sizzle thanks to their Panini-Off contest, and have continued to serve up their generous, health-minded fare to fans and newcomers alike.

Although the emphasis is on freshness and lighter takes on classics, Coral Tree's menu plays to the idea of familiarity, with some welcome twists. For example, their tuna salad is prepared without mayo, their meatloaf sandwich is made with turkey instead of beef, and their Chinese chicken salad is enlivened seasonally with a handful of ruby-magenta pomegranate seeds.

Portions are generous and the prices are reasonable; at lunchtime a full-sized salad will run you $9.25-$14.50, and sandwiches, including the grilled panini, range from $9.95-$11.95 and are paired with a house salad. Heftier pasta dishes and entrees are also available at lunchtime. If you're a mac and cheese maven, you will definitely want to indulge with their gooey, creamy, hearty mac and cheese, which is made with sharp cheddar, monterey jack, parmesan Reggiano, and Danish blue cheese and topped with a Panko crust. There are plenty of vegetarian options on the menu, and vegan too--after all, it was vegan chef Chloe Coscarelli whose vegan recipe won the Panini-Off competition and landed her sandwich on the menu.

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Coral Tree's atmosphere is easy-going and welcoming. They've got unlimited free WiFi, tables big enough for you, your salad bowl and your giant Psychology textbook, and a space that's suitable for a friends' outing, a family get together, or a solo venture. Coral Tree Cafe also has wines by the glass, espresso drinks, and tons of baked goods to round out your meal, if you so desire. If lunch is a success, you can also come back for their wine tasting evenings, or order up a picnic basket for your Hollywood Bowl trip or day at the beach.

Coral Tree Cafe Brentwood
11645 San Vicente Blvd. Brentwood
(310) 979-8733
Other locations: Encino, Century City (Express)