Amid the competing tortilla smells of Mi Cocina and Taco Diner, LYFE officially opened in the West Village yesterday, holding a special event last evening for media and food bloggers. I sneaked in during lunch service earlier that afternoon, half because I was curious about the place Mark Bittman called a worthy alternative to the nation's fast food machine, and half because I was excited to eat anything that wasn't a hamburger or steak. After reviewing a steakhouse and a restaurant whose best dish was meatloaf back to back, my arteries demanded it.
I ordered the burger.
Love Your Food Every Day arrives via California at the hand of two former clown-masters from McDonald's who thought their new line of restaurants could be a place that reflects your values toward health, community and sustainability, in addition to being a place to stuff your face. When you walk in, you're greeted by a number of menus: E is for everything that comes out of the kitchen, and V denotes a smaller menu for Vegetarians. There's a gluten free menu (GF) and the wine and beer menu (WB) is there for people that need alcohol to cope with the fact that there isn't any queso on the menu.
With your chosen menu(s) in hand you can proceed to a register, just past the herb garden that cascades like a waterfall of fragrant greenery. This is where I ordered that burger, but only after I'd ordered the garden burger, too. I wanted to see if the processed soy patty could keep up with the real deal, and it turned out it could.
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This is not, unfortunately, because of the merits of the the garden burger on its own, but rather the lackluster quality of the beef burger that was so lean it was nearly devoid of flavor. It was almost lost in the whole grain wheat bun, and sweet pickles and a dijonnaise only obscured it further.
Maybe that's how you convince customers to eat less meat. The garden burger boasted more savory, even meaty flavors that the real meat did. I finished it while the beef burger sat getting soggy in the juice from the lemony-wilted kale that shared the plate.
There are wraps, salads and other sandwiches. There are fish tacos and entrees that look like they'd be at home in an LA bistro. There are smoothies, infused waters that taste like watered down smoothies, juices and booze. Thank God for the booze.
LYFE takes care of everything from breakfast to dinner, and is open seven days a week. If you're hungry, need something quick and don't want to eat something that will sit in your stomach like wet cement, put it in your rotation.