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Dining Out: Meeting the checklist at the Wooden Fork

January 28, 2014|By Lisa Dupuy
  • The smoked turkey and provolone panini comes with garlic aioli, roasted tomato and Dijon mustard at Wooden Fork, 316 N. Brand Blvd., Glendale on Thursday, Jan. 23, 2014.
The smoked turkey and provolone panini comes with garlic… (Raul Roa / Staff…)

I asked my husband recently what he looks for in a lunch place near work and he prioritized his requirements this way:

  • Can I get in and out fast?

  • Is it a pleasing environment and is there outdoor seating?

  • Is the price right?

  • Is it good quality food?

  • Are the waitresses cute?

Except for the last one, I would agree with his criteria, though maybe not in that order. I tested his theory at a new eatery on Brand, the Wooden Fork, that caters to locals looking for a quick, healthy lunch or breakfast.

Regarding getting in and out fast, the Wooden Fork is more about creating fresh, nutritious meals than it is about speedy delivery. That being said, co-owner and chef Ron Tavakoli is a dynamo of energy and tends to whip up a panini pretty quickly. The sides are all pre-made that morning and on display in big, beautiful bowls so that part goes quickly as well. The only reason you might not get out fast is if there's a long line at the counter (possible) or you feel like lingering in the comfortable environment. Which brings me to point number two, ambience.

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The Wooden Fork is a light-filled space adorned with old clocks, vintage bicycles, French brie cartons, shabby chic chandeliers and of course, large forks. It is reminiscent of the south of France with the same relaxed vibe you might find there. A rich sound system plays buoyant world music like Brazilian sambas or African dance tunes. It's definitely a pleasant place to hang out either with friends at long, rustic tables or alone at low coffee tables. And there are outdoor tables on the sunny sidewalk.

The prices are average for lunch. My husband claims you can still get a good $5 lunch but these days it seems more like $10. The popular turkey, brie and apple panini, for example, is $9.25, but it's large and comes with two sides of your choice from a tempting array: quinoa or lentil salad, stuffed grape leaves, red potato or pasta salad, fresh fruit, hummus, eggplant caviar or cucumber salad. The best deal, however, is on the morning menu: a delicious breakfast wrap for $5.99. See the following section ("is it good quality food?") for more details.

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