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Sep 12, 2006 07:01 PM

Coral Tree Cafe in Encino - Loved it!

Went to the Coral Tree yesterday for lunch with Mom. Housed in the old Cha Cha Cha space, it reminded me of Le Pain Quotidien. Very "French County Farmhouse" with lots of faded wood furniture and subtle charm.

We shared a Caprese sandwich with amazingly red tomatoes, basil, mozzarella, and a delicious slathering of pesto. It was huge and served with a small baby greens salad.

OK, I can't end this post without mentioning the size of the salads - enormous! I'd say four people could easily share one. Looking forward to another visit.

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    1. What kind of service does Coral Tree have - I mean do you sit and get waited on, or order and they bring it to you, or order and you pick it up?

      1. It's actually very efficient - You order at the counter, are given a number to be displayed at your table and the food is brought out to you. It's nice because they have a bunch of server/busser types around if you need anything.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Suebee

          Thanks, we might try it tonight for a casual dinner, will report back.

        2. I work walking distance from the original Brentwood location and it is a (somewhat expensive) lunch time favorite. The ingredients taste fresh, natural, and of high quality. My favorite is the steak salad or steak panini.

          1. We tried Coral Tree in Encino for a quick dinner tonight. Got two sandwiches and split them. Rosemary chicken sandwich ($9.95) - rosemary-marinated chicken breast with brie, fresh pear, arugula and mayo on ciabatta. Steak panini ($10.50) - hangar steak, bbq onions, roma tomatoes, provolone cheese, avocado, mayonnaise.

            Both sandwiches were good but not great. The chicken was a bit dry but didn't have too much rosemary which is a good thing as rosemary can be so overwhelming. The other components - brie, pear - were an interesting match and we both thought the combination worked very well, but the ciabatta could have been fresher. Maybe that's an end-of-the-day problem.

            We both liked the steak panini more than the chicken sandwich, although there could have been more steak. The "panini bread" was pressed nicely and wasn't greasy and all the ingredients melded very harmoniously.

            So our quick dinner at Coral Tree was adequate but I think a bit expensive for what it was - a bit short on value. Both sandwiches were accompanied by some greens with what tasted like a balsamic vinaigrette - but nothing else was with the greens, just leaf. Even at Pane Dolce up the street you get a couple of hunks of tomato with your greens. I think at lunchtime we would have been more satisfied with the meal but it would have seemed even more expensive. Nevertheless we would go back as the food was tasty, the big salads look good, and there are some items on the breakfast menu that are intriguing. Bakery items appeared sad and dried out in the refrigerator case - no go! Instead we checked out Gelato Bar on Tujunga - not bad at all.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Debbie W

              Coral Tree Cafe Encino -- First and Last Time (a cautionary tale)

              I just had a miserable experience at the Coral Tree Cafe in Encino. I ordered a "caprese grill" -- that is, a grilled panini. It was ice cold. Just to clarify, they have a caprese sandwich, too, which IS served cold.
              I sent it back and it returned close to 10 minutes later -- ice cold. I sent it back again, nicely asking whether they used a press or not? The waitress said that they did, and I replied it didn't seem to have been pressed. I then waited a good fifteen minutes (probably longer -- my fiance had long since finished his mediocre angel hair with turkey bolognese) -- before I finally went to the counter and asked for my panini. I waited at the counter for 5 minutes, and they brought out a molten panini with a soggy bottom that fell apart when I tried to lift it off the plate.
              I fetched my fiance and asked for a refund. The manager was completely apathetic -- he didn't ask me whether I'd like something else or offer to comp anything.
              In fact, he said that the mozzarella was sliced thick and released water making the bread soggy -- as if was MY fault for wanting it how it was described on the menu. Cut the mozzarella thinner then -- it's a panini, for pete's sake!
              I think it was sitting, forgotten, under heat lamps for a long time.
              It's just a shame that the waitstaff and manager had no interest in helping me NOR encouraging us to return.
              I'm an easy going diner -- I rarely walk away from a meal, and I rarely gripe about service. Very disappointing -- Coral Tree has lost two potential customers who live 5 minutes away.