Clementine Hammers Westwood Lunch Scene
- techbod Jul 11, 2006 08:39 PM
Tuesday mornings don't usually bring much glee, but this morning was different.
I caught a glimpse of a flyer indicating that CLEMENTINE had stepped into the void left by Joan's On Third's hasty retreat from the Hammer Museum courtyard in Westwood.
CLEMENTINE'S Ensley Ave. HQ would be my favorite lunch spot in the area were it not for their parking, crowds and longer than ideal wait to get food on a workday. I have just returned from lunch at the Hammer courtyard and I'm pleased to be the first to report here that CLEMENTINE is a great addition to the Westwood lunch scene.
The staff are friendly and helpful. The setting is great (nice shady courtyard and plenty of chairs/tables). And the food is very good. Note that there is not, as they say in the industry, a "full kitchen" at this time.
Instead, there's a fridge case loaded with selections from the CLEMENTINE menu, pre-made, pre-packaged and clearly labeled. This bummed me out at first, because I am not a pre-made sandwich kind of 'hound (are any of you?).
I've always thought that the food prep staff at CLEMENTINE were good because they seem to make sandwiches with as much care as they might if they were going to eat the sandwich themselves. The same people and attitude seem to be behind the stuff in the case at the Hammer. Based on freshness, I would guess that they start making the sandwiches at about 1030AM on Ensley, finish by 1130AM and RACE over to the Hammer to deliver rather fresh, unwilted, tasty treats just in time for the lunch crowd. I didn't have a salad, but I'd guess it's the same deal.
So, to recap. If you work in Westwood, you can get CLEMENTINE for lunch at the Hammer courtyard. Sandwiches are $8.25. They have cookies/brownies/scones/etc. They're closed on Monday.
There was a line today, so it's no secret that they're there. Expect crowds. If I had one gripe, it would be that the order/pay set-up is not very fast (ordering is MUCH faster than paying, so you might stand in line with a tray for 10 minutes waiting to pay if you were the 5th person in line (which you will be once this place catches on). Maybe they'll add another register.
This is a good tidbit.
However, though Clemetine's food is undeniably delicious, I and others have found the crowds, parking and attitudes of the staff disenchanting. I've not seen a place with so many staff/workers run so inefficiently year after year. Clementine needs to get over itself and its prices.
I agree with Francesca. Clementine used to be a quaint restaurant with a low-key, "homesy" ambiance. Now it's like a rudderless ship. Not only is the staff turnover mind-boggling, but the service gets worse month after month. Unfortunately, someone sucked the heart out of the place. The food is still pretty good; but you're better off just getting it to go (make sure you check your order, though, because odds are something got royally screwed up).
re: Joe Knows
I have to disagree with most of your statements.
Clementine is crowded and the parking is wretched and the customers can be pushy. I am not sure how the cafe can address its popularity and the insane burden of local road work other than it has (work with neighbors for better parking, post updates about the situation on the website, encourage delivery and pick up, dedicate parking spaces to pick up).
I am also not sure how a cafe that has a Cheeseball or annual grilled cheese month or posts apologetic notes when the tomato harvest is late or hosts community events or keeps very unpopular items on the menu (liverwurst) just because the chef really, really wants someone to try them has lost its direction or soul.
I have never had an order incorrectly prepared or a rude encounter with a service person. I eat there or get out take-out at least 3-8 times a month. I don't like everything I have ever ordered but I like almost all of it, which is slightly amazing. It is also very, very consistent and its prices are consistent with other cafes using similar quality ingredients.
Free parking in the city garage on Broxton (about two blocks from the museum); metered street parking is sometimes findable during the day although the supply has been curtailed by construction in Westwood) or you can pay to park in the museum building itself--not too expensive with a museum validation.