Clover Food Lab: A User’s Guide
Keywords: Meat-Free Fast Food | Ever-Changing Menu | Mostly Organic | Eco-Friendly | Wholesome Food Truck | MIT-Alum CEO
* Breakfast: egg sandwich with tomato and cheese, oatmeal, cheesy grits
* Sandwiches: soy BLT, BBQ seitan, chickpea fritter
* Plates: mezze and chickpea platter, egg and eggplant platter
* Sides: rosemary fries, roasted carrot and pistachio salad
* Desserts: whoopie pies, apple fritters
* Beverages: cinnamon lemonade, maple soda, Barrington coffee, Pretty Things Jack D’Or beer
Thoughtful Fast Food
Though the restaurant strives to duplicate the serving times of a McDonald's (their average is down to around 3.5 minutes), the rest of the operation shuns the Big-Box Burger model. Freezers are forbidden, up to 60% of the ingredients are organic, and all packaging and serving materials are compostable. What’s more, up to 85% of the ingredients used at each location are sourced from farmers and producers in the Northeast, so money stays in the area.
“A breakfast sandwich with sliced tomatoes and cheese has a Chip-In Farm egg whose yolk breaks at the first bite, spilling golden sauce into the pocket. It might be the best thing on the menu, until you dip into creamy Narragansett yogurt layered with beautiful granola and pear compote.” – Boston.com
“While constant variety would work against any other fast-food chain—where customers have been trained to order old standbys by number—it has become central to Clover's brand. When people go to Clover, they don't expect the same burger and fries, they expect good food […] The dining experience feels, as one Cambridge local explained it to me, ‘very MIT.’ It looks like a lab crossed with a Chipotle, with crisp, clean, white spaces.” – Fast Company
“People came in for a quick lunch, fries, and a cup of coffee before going back to work between the hours of 1 and 4 p.m. … After midnight, aside from a few die-hard coffee lovers, the fries and cheesy grits ruled palates. As places nearby shut down, Clover became a place to socialize and sober up. Some got fries. Some got coffee. Some got both.” – Boston Globe
* Don’t call it vegetarian. MIT-trained Ayr Muir originally founded the Lab because he believed lowering meat consumption was the best way he could affect climate change, so calling the joint “vegetarian”—as in, designed especially for vegetarians—misses the point. The restaurant is out to serve everyone, especially those who might have otherwise dined on beef or chicken.
* Have an opinion on the food? They’ll listen. Every Tuesday at the Inman Square location, the company hosts a food-development meeting that's open to the public. Attendees can try new recipes in the works and let the big wigs in charge know what they think.
* Clover will come to you. The restaurant also operates out of a roaming food truck, which keeps its location updated on Twitter.