”Meet me at the Leaf at the Club!”
“Food brings people together;” I love to see customers sitting at tables in our cozy cafe, enjoying the food, the atmosphere and good conversation. The Lemon Leaf Café offers fresh Californian cuisine inspired by Mediterranean influences. Start off with fresh bruschetta, a caprese salad or hummus with cucumber. For a light meal try any of our thin crust Neapolitan-style pizzas, with a fresh green salad. For heartier fare the pasta dishes are delicious, and the fresh grilled salmon is irresistible. If you’re headed this way for lunch, we have a nice selection of sandwiches and wraps to enjoy. Be sure to sample our handcrafted pastries. “This is a place for community.” Please come by and visit sometime!
Maria Elena Grado,
Owner and Executive Chef
Q. So how was The Lemon Leaf Café created?
A. I was working in the film industry as an aspiring costume designer. In order to supplement my income as an apprentice, I began making and selling confections for the directors and producers. They caught on, and soon I was shipping cakes and candies all over the country.
Q. Why Lancaster?
A. I grew up here and understand this market well. Because I was thinking food manufacturing at the time, I realized the local workforce would be productive in manufacturing my baked goods for groceries and food markets across the country. Only later did the Lemon Leaf brand develop into a restaurant.
Q. What’s it like to work with you in the kitchen?
A. I’d compare it to a scene out of Iron Chef. The energy is intense, and we let creativity flow. That’s how I’ve come up with some of my best recipes. For example, one catering job had a Southwestern theme. There were lots of chilies being used in appetizers and entrées. On a whim, I candied a few jalapeños and threw them into some cheesecake crème. One of our favorite desserts was created!
Q. What are you passionate about?
A. Building the business, sharing my knowledge with others and spending time with my springer spaniel. Business and culinary schools can only teach you so much. Your real education begins when you get out in the world and start testing your abilities. So now I share my experiences with others whenever I can and soak up information from those I respect. I like to say, “The best way to improve your game is to play with people who are better than you are.”
Q. Do you have any guilty pleasures?
A. McConnell’s Fine Ice Creams. It’s been handmade in Santa Barbara since 1949 with true, clean ingredients and no stabilizers, preservatives, fillers or additives of any kind. Every flavor is creamy, cold and irresistible.
Q. What’s the one kitchen tool you can’t live without?
A. A good set of knives! I use Global Japanese knives which are made from a single piece of steel. They are super sharp, super sleek and super-efficient.
Q. We hear you are broadening the Lemon Leaf brand. What’s on the horizon?
A. New packaged foods with fresh, wholesome ingredients. No preservatives or stabilizers. Just simple, clean and tasty. I’ve been test marketing the fresh salad dressings at the AV Winery Farmers Market. They’ve done very well.
Q. Which Lemon Leaf dish is your personal favorite?
A. The grilled salmon. First, because it’s cut fresh every morning, second, because my mom’s marinade makes it spectacular and third, because we’ve taken the time to train our chefs how to prepare it properly. Nothing ruins good fish faster than poor preparation.
Q. Where else do you dine?
A. Is this a trick question? Of course my favorite will always be The Lemon Leaf Café, but I am very supportive of all my fellow local restaurateurs. That’s how we succeed and grow as an industry. Besides, you can’t eat at Lemon Leaf every day!
AV Country Club
39800 Country Club Dr.
Palmdale, CA 93551
PH. (661) 942-6500
FX. (661) 945-5665
MON - SAT 10:00am - 4:00pm
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Weekend hours may vary based on special events. Contact us to verify.