Restaurant Review: D’Novo Lean Gourmet *1/2

18 Jan

If you just want my restaurant review, scroll down. First, I babble.

I am currently reading On Chesil Beach by Ian McEwan, the brilliant writer of Atonement and Amsterdam (both of which I enjoyed in 2010). I like to take a book to lunch with me on days that I treat myself. I often have lunch out in the world alone. I’m fine with it. I don’t feel rejected or pathetic. I mean, solo lunches mean I pick the destination and the duration without guilt, and they still give me the opportunity to pry my peepers from the computer screen in the middle of the day. It’s a win-win, even if I sometimes get looks that convey how sorry other diners feel for the small twentysomething without any friends.

So yes, a book is my typical lunch date. However, in the scurry out the door this morning, I left my current perusal on the living room floor (which, incidentally, is where I keep most things). Luckily, my most recent lending request was ready this morning, so on the way to lunch, I picked it up. I needed something to keep me company, and a stack of papers from the recycling bin just wasn’t appealing.

Now I admit to my not-at-all-secret literary non-shame of the past six months: I’ve become obsessed with the Temperance Brennan books by Kathy Reichs. I love the show Bones, so I decided to give the novels a try. Mysteries and really any kind of series are not my taste. However, I’ve been sucked in. This Brennan differs dramatically from Emily Deschanel’s portrayal, but I like both equally, just for different reasons. The stories are easy to read but not completely dumbed-down, and I am enjoying reading a totally different genre.

All of this is to say that I’m not embarrassed, and nothing will make me feel like I should be. However, I must note that these books should not make good dining company. There is frequent talk of grave wax, putrefied organs, drowning victims, and severed body parts. I often find myself scooping up a bite of rice with tahini sauce while Dr. Brennan talks about the life cycle of maggot while it consumes dead human flesh. My stomach should turn, but it doesn’t. In fact, recently I found myself reading a passage involving the removal of long-dead organs in the pre-lunch hours and actually began salivating. Yes, I have become so accustomed to reading during lunch that a disgusting description of a rotting corpse made me think of what I would eat that day.

I’m a vegetarian with a Pavlovian response to putrefied organs.

Anyway, Tempe came with me to use a Groupon today. I’m new to this bandwagon, but I may be obsessed. My Groupon entitled me to $16 worth of food at D’Novo Lean Gourmet for only $8. Since I purchased it already, it’s almost like a free lunch. Almost. In a parallel universe in which spending money costs nothing.

Anyway, I’ve been to D’Novo twice before and ordered the same thing: Asian Soba Noodle with Grilled Chicken, Pan Flashed with Spicy Szechwan Sauce and Crisp Vegetables (minus the chicken). Today, I decided to take a different route. I have been stress eating like a mofo (yes, at least a vegan one, for the most part) lately, so I decided a salad was necessary. I perused the menu online and decided to de-meat this selection: LG Salad Lemon Grass Marinated Chicken over Spring Greens with Grilled Asparagus and Oranges and Sunflower Seeds with Raspberry Vinaigrette. Minus the chicken, it seemed to fit the bill. I had a few dollars left over on my deal, so I also tried the Jicama/Sweet Potato Fries and an iced tea.

My verdict: the food is meh. I have enjoyed the soba noodles in the past, but they weren’t better than anything I could make at home. Today’s salad would have been tasty if it hadn’t been wearing a tuxedo to the Gas ‘N Sip, if you know what I mean. The fries were good, but again, nothing revolutionary.

One of D’Novo’s claims to fame is that everything on the menu is under 500 calories. However, since the actual counts are not posted, it’s still hard to make an informed decision when ordering. I mean, if my salad has 499 and so do the fries, that’s still almost 1,000 calories for lunch, not an acceptable count for someone my size. If, however, I order two items with less than 200 each, that’s probably not enough. In addition, an accurate list of ingredients and allergens would be great.

Also, I’m always shocked at the tiny number of vegetarian entrées on the menu. I mean, there is one on the lunch menu, two on the dinner menu. The sides are mostly meat-free, but my Groupon required the purchase of an entrée or I would have happily rolled with grilled veggies, a small salad, quinoa, and sweet potato fries. A place that advocates healthy eating could really dial up the meatless options.

Rating: * for veggie options and ** for deliciousness. (See this post for scoring guide.) I know lots of people love this place, but I just don’t get it. It’s pretty bland. If you’re concerned about calories, then make similar meals yourself and save a ton of money, plus add some flavor.

D’Novo Lean Gourmet is at 6120 S. Yale Ave. in the KingsPointe Village. Their hours are 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily.



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