Monday, February 20, 2012

La Jolla Groves

Where: La Jolla Groves, 4801 N University Avenue, Provo (in the Riverwoods)

Who Went: Chelsey & Owen

Number of Visits: 2

What We Ordered: Trip 1 - Hazelnut Italian Soda, Watermelon Cucumber Salad, Pesto Chicken Pasta, Chicken Marsala, Lemon Cake; Trip 2 - Blackberry Italian Soda, Watermelon Cucumber Salad (again!), Oven Fired Salmon Filet with Cilantro Butter, Cheese Tortellini with Grilled Garden Vegetables, Orange Crème Brûlée

What It Cost: $65.00 (including tip)

What We Thought: 

Want to go somewhere a little nice without completely breaking the bank? La Jolla Groves is your best bet in the area near BYU. They have a wonderful atmosphere with fake lemon trees covering the tables in the main dining area -- okay so that sounds kind of lame and cheesy, but I really like it and think that it is fun. The service is the best. This year, I let Owen plan Valentine's evening. He thought that La Jolla Groves would be a great place to go, but of course, so did lots of other people in Utah Valley, and he didn't realize that we would need to make a reservation. When I realized that he hadn't made a reservation, we called the restaurant around 5:45 and asked how long the wait was. They said it would be about a half hour, so we figured we'd give it a try. When we arrived at the restaurant, we put our name down and the hostess said that we probably would not be seated until around 8. Surprised, we told the hostess that over the phone 5 minutes ago, someone had told us that the wait was 30 minutes, not 3 hours. The restaurant was pretty busy, of course, but she said she would try to fit us in as quickly as she could. 15 minutes later, we were seated! It was awesome! I was so glad that the staff at La Jolla Groves were able to make our Valentine's dinner still perfect even though we didn't have a reservation! 

Let's talk about the food.

Owen is a huge fan of Italian sodas, and they make some of the best. Last time we went, our server recommended his favorite, the hazelnut Italian soda. It was a little strange flavor-wise, but still the best Italian soda I'd ever had. This time we got the blackberry flavor, and it was even better! They make these delicious sodas just perfectly.

 The watermelon salad is my all-time favorite. Keep in mind that this is just a half-salad - they split it for us without even having to ask! Even though it's not really in season, the watermelon was juicy and crisp, and I love how it is paired perfectly with the mint dressing and cucumber. So refreshing. So wonderful. I could eat this every day.

The one thing I would change about La Jolla Groves is the fact that their menu does not change that much. They claim to use fresh, seasonal ingredients, but last time I checked, watermelon is not in season in February (though it was still delicious, don't get me wrong!) We came here for the first time last summer, and from what I can tell, the menu has not changed all that much. They still offer the same entrées, same pastas, same everything, which can get boring if you plan on coming here more than twice. I also would never order a sandwich for dinner, so that knocks off a big portion of the menu for me. They have a lot of different pasta options, but you've heard me rant about pastas before -- it is rare for me to find a pasta where I don't think, "Hmm...I could have made that so easily at home. For way less." That sentiment was true when I ordered the Pesto Chicken Pasta last summer, and was sadly true again with Owen's tortellini. While the tortellini claimed to hold inside its little shell a variety of cheeses, including ricotta and mascarpone, it was hard to detect anything beneath the tomato sauce. At least the sauce was enjoyable -- it tasted like it had flavors of bell pepper as well, and was not too heavy. The vegetables were a little limp and weren't super vibrant, but at least they didn't overdo it with the applewood bacon like so many other places tend to do.

I definitely got the better of the two entrées between the two of us -- the salmon was perfectly cooked, very fresh, had a wonderfully crisp crust, and was a good portion size. I also loved the cilantro butter sauce it was served with, and the basmati rice was cooked to perfection as well. The vegetables it was served with looked vaguely familiar...I'm pretty sure that it is the exact same (or super close) mixture of vegetables that was mixed into my pesto chicken pasta last summer? Last summer, Owen also got the chicken marsala, which was a good choice, even to me, the mushroom hater.

Along with my (not-so-) secret obsession with hot wings, another food love of mine is anything citrus flavored. I've always asked for lemon cake on my birthday (much to the despair of all my other family members), and La Jolla Groves has the ultimate selection for fresh, delicious citrus desserts. On our first visit, we ordered the La Jolla Groves Lemon Cake, a little lemon bundt cake served with crème anglaise, a little caramel dome, and berries & mint. Wonderful. It was incredibly moist, sweet, and adorable to boot. This time we ordered the orange crème brûlée, since Owen never has had it before, and I have to convince him of why I should purchase a kitchen torch. It had great flavor, but I was a little disappointed because in the custard portion of the dessert, there were lots of little pieces of orange zest which disturbed the creamy texture I was hoping for. Owen still loved it, but when I order crème brûlée, I want smooth and luscious bites, not little chunks of whatever in it. But if you're not as big of a texture freak as me, you will probably still love it anyway. I still want to try their lemon tiramisu and lemon rolls...never enough lemon for me!

What You Should Do: Go here for a big date. It's too expensive to eat here all the time, but has a lovely romantic atmosphere, great service, and you're guaranteed to feel like it was a special evening. Although it would be impractical to eat here every day, you can take a little bit of La Jolla Groves home with you all the time -- they have a little bakery attached to the restaurant on the east side (you can enter it from a separate door in the main area in the Riverwoods) where they sell soups, desserts (including the lemon rolls!), and their famous bread for ridiculously good prices. Normal loaves of bread are either $4 or $5, and they have a shelf of day-old bread that they sell every day for half-price! It is an incredible deal! The bread is still very fresh and lasts a long time (trust me, there's only 2 of us, and we can eat it before it goes bad!), and they have a wonderful range of delicious flavors. The service in the bakery is just as great -- I told the cashier I was giving someone a loaf of their amazing-looking cinnamon bread as a gift, and she wrapped it up in a lovely ribbon for me! This is probably one of my favorite little secrets of Provo, and you should go there to make sure they stay in business forever. But please don't buy all the good flavors out before I get there :)

Read other reviews here:
La Jolla Groves on Urbanspoon

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