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Let's Do Lunch: Greenleaf Gourmet Chopshop

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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?

Oh, the woe of the office dweller who doesn't have time to linger over a three-course leisurely lunch, but who doesn't want to compromise and get lousy fast food. These days more people are questioning not just where they can go to get "fresh" food, but why are we having to point out that the food is fresh--shouldn't it be?

Freshness is never a question at Greenleaf Gourmet Chopshop, which has locations in Beverly Hills and Century City. The restaurant, which focuses on lunchtime and afternoon eats, serves up fast, and health-conscious fare that will surely freshen-up your lunchtime routine.

We were invited to check out Greenleaf's newest location, tucked into the base of one of the many skyscrapers full of cubicles in Century City. A bicycle parked outside is fitted with a basket, so staff can pedal off to deliver salads and sandwiches to those who can't make it in to the eco-friendly restaurant. Tables made of recycled wood, and windows tinted to keep the pounding SoCal sun from driving up the air conditioning costs, are just some of the subtle elements that emphasize dining with a conscience.

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The menu, however, is where you can explore more conscientious eating. Bountiful salad options, including a make-your-own option, make use of greens and other produce sourced from local farms and are dressed with any one of over a dozen choices, all made in-house. Veggies and vegans have a broad range of options, and can tailor dishes to suit their dietary needs, as can those who need gluten-free ingredients.

Small touches that are so easily gobbled up and enjoyed, like the roasted nuts that top salads like the Anti-Oxidant Orchard, are the best evidence of the care Chefs and co-owners Jonathan Rollo and Kristi Ritchey take to find ways to move from caloric wastelands to tastier, healthier territory. Roasted in-house using agave, the sweet, crunchy cashews, walnuts and other nuts give salads a welcome snap of texture (and mean that vegans can safely enjoy the bee-free product). The whole wheat tortilla used in the "Mexplosion" salad instead of croutons, and as the base of the flatbread "pizza" was specially developed for Greenleaf, and cuts down on the fat and calories of a typical flour tortilla.

Rollo and Ritchey met when they worked at Patina; we last saw Ritchey when she ran the kitchen at WeHo's now-defunct Murano. In the interim, the Greenleaf-ers have appeared on health-centric TV shows like "The Biggest Loser' and the new series "Thintervention" starring fitness guru Jackie Warner, to help people learn how to eat foods that are part of a healthy lifestyle.

A satisfying side of sweet potato fries (baked, of course) accompany a juicy, homemade turkey burger on a nutty, grainy Breadbar bun. The mushroom pizza, on the aforementioned whole wheat tortilla, has an added touch of indulgence thanks to the hint of truffle; sure it's not the same as folding up a weighty slice of oozing sauce and cheese, but it can be a welcome break to the salad-and-sandwich drain diners might experience on the M-F lunch crunch.

Of course, if you're looking for sandwiches and salads, well, those are Greenleaf's calling cards, so cruise their extensive menu to see what you can order and cure your lunchtime blues with a taste of something fresh.