You don’t have to sacrifice fresh and healthy for fast anymore. Located in Tarzana’s Safari Walk area on Ventura Boulevard, The Carving Board is primarily known for its wide array of sandwiches. With more than 25 options, there’s something tasty for just about everyone, including vegetarians.
The restaurant sits on the corner of an outdoor shopping area that features a red brick patio with lots of afternoon shade. On the western side of the building, there are four tables next to the windows for more seating.
Inside, the restaurant is clean and streamlined, with a 4-foot wide path in the middle leading patrons toward the back of the restaurant to order at the counter. The wood-top tables and brushed silver metal chairs lend a modern feel to the multi-colored wood pieces that decorate the front of the ordering area, and they are offset by a blue-green feature wall. A wall of windows stretching over 4-feet high add a bright, open and airy feel to the restaurant, making it feel larger than it is.
Drink orders only come in one size, a 16 ounce plastic cup with small, half inch cubes of ice filled almost to the rim. The menu boasts fresh, hand-squeezed lemonade. Of the two types offered, the pink lemonade might as well be made from a powder. It is quite sweet and lacks sourness from lemons. The regular lemonade tastes like it was actually made from fresh fruit, and it has the tanginess of lemons and seemingly less sugar than the pink version.
The pot roast sandwich comes as advertised with tender cutlets of beef that fall apart with every bite and softened carrots that are easily cut with the side of a fork, both marinated in a brown gravy slightly thicker than chicken broth. It is more reminiscent of beef stew than pot roast with 1 inch cubes of meat as opposed to slices. The food is well seasoned, giving it a good flavor.
According to the menu, the sandwich is supposed to be served on a ciabatta role. However, this one came on a round sourdough role, a surprising, though not necessarily bad choice. The firm, chewy outer crust is an ideal base to help keep the sandwich intact, while the softer bread inside sops up excess gravy. The sandwich features parmesan crusted mashed potatoes as the top slice of “bread.” The idea that the mashed potatoes are supposed to complete the pot roast dinner in a sandwich is understandable, yet in this case the famously salty cheese that holds the potatoes together makes the gravy and the sandwich taste like someone had dumped several salt packets onto it. However, those that enjoy salty snacks, such as hard pretzels, may find it enjoyable.
The margherita grilled cheese closely imitates the famous Italian pizza for which it is named. Fresh ingredients, including chunks of moist mozzarella cheese (not the dry, shredded version that tops most pizzas) and strips of basil lend the sandwich a light and refreshing flavor as compared to the pot roast sandwich. Instead, the soft cheese and tomatoes feel like a refreshing snack that leaves enough room for chips or dessert. The only disappointing thing about the sandwich is that the bread flavor. While the bread shouldn’t overwhelm the delicate ingredients inside, it should at least add to the overall sandwich.
Sandwiches are served on wooden, rectangular cutting boards with a cutout handle and come with a choice of chips or a salad.
Sliced from potatoes and then fried, each chip is unique in shape and texture. The homemade chips are a fun experience for those who enjoy variety with their meal.
Those with a sweet tooth and not wanting to overdo it with deep fried candy bars should try the cookies. It takes about 15 minutes to receive them, but they are baked in-store and come out piping hot and fresh. There are four flavors: macadamia nut, chocolate chip, lemon-coconut and triple chocolate chip. The cookies appear to be hand rolled and are about two inches in diameter. The lemon-coconut cookie has the sourness of a lemon, but doesn’t taste like a lemon bar, where all the sourness sits on top of a sugar crust. In this case, the lemon is present and not overwhelming and is a great complement to the sweetness of toasted coconut. The best part of the cookies is the firm bottoms and the soft, warm, gooey centers on top. It kind of feels like being a kid again, even if for a brief moment.
Whether stopping by to grab a quick bite to eat or taking the time to dine in, The Carving Board is a good place to go for quality food, fresh ingredients and a nice assortment of sandwiches.
18607 Ventura Blvd #100
Tarzana, Calif. 91356