Dare I cite the old bromide, “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade?” Now I actually love lemons in their every form. So naturally, the other night I chose to visit Lemonade, a restaurant which opened on South Lake two months ago. The occasion? A delayed birthday meal for one of my valiant friends who knows a thing or two about lemonizing.
This particular friend and I have a years-long tradition of meeting for dinner every six or eight weeks, choosing restaurants that our families probably wouldn’t go for. Hence, the Thai-Italian noodle house. The Peruvian that replaced Hooters. The serene Tibetan on Holly. But we haven’t met for our dinners since last summer. Over a year ago, my friend received a dire diagnosis, which has necessitated a series of surgeries. Life-changing surgeries. We are trying to get back on track. The good news is that she is here and she is sunny and she is braver than ever.
In the two hours that we devote to catching up about children and mulling over life’s challenges, there’s always some unexpected profundity that emerges. I was thunderstruck when she said, “Jean, you’re an inspiration to me! You were homeless and practically living out of your car for months [between houses] and you still manage to stay positive!” Psssh, thought I. Mere inconvenience compared to the courage that health issues demand. She thanked ME for keeping in touch and keeping her connected. But who are we if we don’t show our friends and families through our actions that we love them? And we cannot stint on this because we all need that support sometime.
We both were delighted to try Lemonade. It is a cafeteria-style design with a playful yellow motif. Look up to see the yolk-shaped light fixtures while you sit in a chair colored just like a hard-boiled egg. There is a boggling array of at least 20 salads which can be ordered in share-able portions. Sandwiches, braises, soups, and macaroni + cheese follow. The fancy lemonades include cucumber mint, which I tried for my walk on the wild side. We enjoyed an ample meal for about $20. Lemonade turns out to be an unexpected sweet spot in Pasadena. (And there are six other locations in Los Angeles County.)
Lemonade, 146 S. Lake Ave., Pasadena, 626.304.7700, lemonadela.com. L & D daily. No booze. $