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BEACH GOURMET: Coral Tree Café: Semi Self-Server

The Coral Tree Café in Brentwood is the original of a trio of such establishments bearing the name. It specializes in fresh, organically inspired dishes for breakfast, lunch and dinner, served in a vibrant, bright and breezy environment, with casual being the order of the day.

My friend Dale and I paid a visit for a late lunch amongst the sophisticates of Brentwood society, the kind who appear to gravitate to this agrarian toned eating place.

After conveniently valet parking my modest conveyance, we took the few steps to the entrance and chose a table on the patio, sat down and waited, and waited, and waited, until one of the busboys pointed out that all the orders are taken at the counter and only then delivered to the guests.

Although limited in scope, the plates here are American and Italian in style, with a few left-of-center variations, such as the now ubiquitous Chinese Chicken Salad (grilled marinated chicken breast, pomegranate seeds, cilantro, mandarin slices, wonton strips and a romaine-iceberg mix tossed with pomegranate dressing, $10.50), and a variation on the increasingly popular dish of Curried Chicken Salad (grilled marinated chicken breast with golden raisins, red onions, cucumbers and diced carrots in a light curry mayo over organic field baby greens tossed in a balsamic vinaigrette, $10.75).

My guest chose the Tuscan Baby Spinach Salad with Chicken Breast (baby spinach with Belgian endive, roasted walnuts, shaved parmesan Reggiano and a low fat lemon vinaigrette, $9.50, plus $3.50 for the fowl). I choose the Smoked Salmon Plate from the breakfast menu (Scottish smoked salmon served with bagel, cream cheese, capers, Roma tomatoes, red onions and cucumbers, $11.95).

After returning to our patio table and waxing lyrical for a short while, our dishes made a speedy entrance courtesy of the “two people in one, busboy/server combination.” There is a separate menu for lunch and dinner options.

The first thing I noticed was the divine presentation. Part Chagall, and part Stephen Hawking, the ingredients were delicately placed with precision and purpose allowing the fresh brightness of the salmon, tomato and greens to create a watercolor beauty that stimulated my eye as much as my palate.

The Scottish salmon, sitting atop a bed of fresh salad greens, was delicate, tender and perfectly delicious, while the warmed bagel with cream cheese made for the perfect escort.

The cucumber slices were thick and robust and the tomatoes juicy. The condiment additions of capers and red onions topped off a very good example of a classic health-inspired salmon dish. I would certainly select it again.

Dale thoroughly enjoyed her salad and, after she gave me a sample, I could see why. The chicken was tender and moist with a clear freshness which, with the super light low fat lemon vinaigrette, was a definite palate pleaser of the most satisfying kind.

With good food, organic awareness and a patio offering a serene alternative to the somewhat boisterous dining room, I have faith that The Coral Tree Café will remain a bastion of Brentwood beaneries for some time to come.

Coral Tree Café, 11645 San Vicente Boulevard, 310.979.8733

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