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Monday, July 17, 2006

Lettus Organic: Restaurant now called THE PLANT

Sometimes you're in the mood for something light, healthy and fresh tasting. You might want to eat out, but where do you go? Thai or Vietnamese food or even sushi might fit the bill. But if you want a sandwich or salad, it's not as easy as it might seem to find something really satisfying.

On one tiny block in the Marina, Steiner St, there are a whole host of restaurants to choose from including one of my favorites, Isa. A fairly new addition this year is Lettus Organic. It's not vegetarian but there are tons of vegetarian and vegan options. Much of the food is made behind the counter and you can see the care and concern that goes into each plate. Portions are not huge but are very satisfying. You'll find no imbalance between health and taste and no preachy or earth mama vibe.

Salads are a perfect example of something simple that can be excellent when made with care or terrible if just one element is off--too much dressing, slightly wilted greens, etc. Here everything is crisp and just right. The Mango Chicken "lettus" Cups ($8) are a refreshing mix of cabbage, basil, cilantro and ginger with crisp cashew and chunks of chicken or baked tofu and mango. It's healthful tasting but full of flavor. Likewise, the open faced shrimp salad sandwiches have a peppy curry aioli that takes it from ordinary to something special.

At lunch there are soups, grilled and cold sandwiches, salads, noodles and rice bowls to choose from. At breakfast the menu is shorter, but I enjoyed the airy ricotta pancakes with fruit and a lusciously soft Scrambled Tofu ($8) the texture of perfectly cooked eggs, with spinach and mushrooms. Prices are reasonable, especially considering everything is organic and made to order. Though the potatoes aren't browned, they are very tasty nonetheless.

The only downside for me is that there can be a bit of hustle bustle when the place gets busy. You order at the register then your meal is brought out to you and staff flies around getting you the butter or lemon for your tea or whatever it is that you need. Nonetheless I can't wait to take my in-laws here because it is the kind of place pretty much anyone can find something to their liking.

Lettus Organic now called THE PLANT 
3352 Steiner St @ Chestnut
San Francisco

Mon - Fri 7:30 am -10 pm
Sat & Sun 8 am - 10 pm