Aubergine food review 09

Aubergine & Company's Falafel Sandwich and Chicken Chop Salad.

I've been waiting to go to Aubergine & Company for months.

One would never guess that the elegant name "Aubergine" is actually the same word for eggplant in England. You know, that giant purple vegetable that people sometimes use in lieu of chicken for dishes involving Parmesan?

Honestly, I’ve only been acquainted with eggplant once and it was underwhelming. But everything about Aubergine’s aesthetic was beautiful, from the decor to the color of bright, leafy greens, assorted fresh vegetables and healthy desserts (that was not an accidental word pairing -- I ate my treat guilt-free).

Located just next to Sprouts Farmers Market, the restaurant has a Mediterranean and Greek theme, however there seems to be a significant Brazilian influence as well -- with cheese bread, limeades and acai bowls. There’s an inaccurate stigma associated with healthier food. Maybe it starts somewhere in our childhood. If it’s good for you, it must taste bad, right? No. Stop that line of thinking.

At first glance the menu can seem intimidating with so many options and combinations. If you’re not familiar with vegetables you might be lost altogether, but the staff is more than willing to walk you through as you patiently pick from one of the five or so menus. I felt right at home as I soaked in so many items that reminded me of my travels abroad in the Middle East. Falafel. Hummus. Tahini. Olive oil. Pita bread.

I opted for a sandwich combo that included sweet baked potato bites and a lemonade. For my protein, I eagerly chose baked falafel (ground chickpeas and spices high in protein, fiber and complex carbohydrates) stuffed with hummus, grilled broccoli and cauliflower, tabouli and drizzled with tahini. And it was very filling.

As a connoisseur of lemonade and a non-soda drinker, I was sold in that arena. The fact the restaurant doesn't offer soft drinks was a testament to me of its dedication to providing quality food that focuses on nutrients, as it claims. You won't find fried food or refined sugars here. 

Along with my sandwich, I selfishly cornered a delicious cup of butternut squash soup with my girlfriend. It was a deep fall orange, creamy and flavorful. It's the stuff my autumn dreams and lunches are made of.

One of my girlfriends sampled the Asian Salad – a literal chopped salad. While it was a small -- though still nearly $9 -- it was not a dainty entree but was full of spinach, romaine lettuce, nearly half an avocado, cucumbers, broccoli, peppers, carrots, sunflower seeds and she subbed tofu for chicken. After spending some time attacking it during our meal, with the rest of us sampling it as well, a little less than half still remained. Proof that you can get full from a salad packed with protein, veggies and good nutrients.

Among the smoothie and juice menu, we sampled the Exquisite smoothie which included a blend of avocado, kiwi, banana, kale, spinach, almond milk and agave. This 16 oz. ran for $4.95, which can be pricey along with some of the other items, though the restaurant boasts high-quality produce and it was far from tasting like grass. If only all green smoothies were this good -- I realize I've spent far too much time chugging down other "green" smoothies in the name of nutrition when they tasted worse than dirt.

Determined to not skip out on dessert, we eyed the treats in multiple cases all of which I would have ordered. However, we settled on the Chocolate Raspberry Truffle, which one of the workers said happened to be her favorite. Though one might initially vote against the $6.40 price of the delicate dessert, it adequately fulfilled the sweet cravings of three women. The rich and fluffy chocolate was coupled with a raspberry middle and was dusted in cocoa powder, topped with an almond. I happen to be obsessed with crusts and this one was made out of nut mixture and takes my vote as one of the yummiest and yet healthy crusts I've encountered.

The Acai Bowls are one thing I’ll be heading back for, as I just didn’t have room to try. I've heard quite a few people rave about these "superfood" concoctions, and I'd like to taste for myself.

Daily Herald Community & Business Editor Jordan Carroll can be reached at jcarroll@heraldextra or on Twitter @jordanec

Jordan Carroll is the executive editor at the Daily Herald.

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