The awfulness of Clover

I’ll be blunt: Although their food is passable (at best), the supercilious hi-tech 'tude, leading to less information than you might get from, say, paper, has made Clover low on my list of places to eat at. Here’s a recent example:
I arrive at Clover at 10:56 seeking a lunch sandwich.
Mumbling Clover “Helper”: You’re 4 minutes too early to order lunch. You have to wait.
I: What’s on the lunch menu?
MC"H": You have to wait till the screen changes.
I: But the screen has very little information on it. What’s a “French Breakfast Sandwich”?
MC"H": Mumble, mumble, croissant, mumble. mumble arugula.
I: Will I need you to explain what’s in each lunch sandwich or do you have a written menu?
MC"H": No written menu; you have to ask me.
I: Goodbye.

PS: The Clover website says, as if these were plusses not laziness (at best) or shirking responsibility: "We have no phone number, no landline phones in our company and are paper-free. "

“While this might frustrate some” [YES] " it helps us keep focused on what matters the most: making food you dream about. "

More nightmare.


Wow. Wonder how long they’ll be in business, or change their business model. I can’t believe they don’t have descriptions of the food.

Maybe they ought replace the humans with robots.

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It’s worked for them for the last 10 years though. And always a crowd when I’ve gone in. They’re not perfect by a long shot but they do enough things right to not only stay afloat but expand their business.

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yep. the one on Mass Ave and the one in the Science Center at Harvard are always crowded. I never go, but the business model somehow seems to work.

Yes, it seems to work for them – but not for me.

When the one in the Science Center opened (last year?) I went in once and, again left without ordering anything. My objection then (I know, I’m full of them) was that placing an order with a helper also required you to answer questions: “What is your favorite type of sandwich?”, “When were you last at a Clover?”, etc. I couldn’t see helping them collect data on me free of charge, and on my time.

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Huh, I generally like their food and I always check the menu on-line before going. My local is DTX and the kids working there strike me as an earnest and nice bunch.

I did have something this week I did not like - a colleague gave me an extra Enzo platter (eggplant). Eggplant is not my favorite plant and this dish just did not work for me. Way too bitter as I usually find eggplant to be (and I love bitter foods).

Interesting, when I’ve asked staff about particular menu items, they’ve always been able to give me quite detailed descriptions of the food (which I agree is important since the menu isn’t particularly informative). Of course, I’m sure there’s variability in the staff.

Yes, that was what the staff member I talked to yesterday said: he would describe the dishes. But he tended to both look in the opposite direction as he talked and to mumble. I’d rather read a menu than rely on the diction of their staff.

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I like the one at Kendall square (and they seem to be quite successful) and never had problems when asking about any if their dishes. Overall good (not great) food when you need a fast lunch.

The staff at the DTX one have been great when I’ve been in on Saturdays and great about describing things although like digga I have normally looked online first. I love the popover breakfast sandwich, sometimes with an egg added.

I agree that Clover could benefit by describing the offering in a bit more detail on the menu. However I have always found the people that work there knowledgeable and eager to answer questions. I can’t find fault with their customer service.

I have had things I like (Egg and Eggplant Sandwich; some of their platters), but many of their offerings don’t quite hit the sweet spot for me. If I’m going to eat veg, I generally want it to be somewhat healthy as well. I feel like a lot of their sandwiches incorporate fried components, mayo, etc. If I’m going to eat something like that just give me a steak and cheese. Also, Clover can keep their fake meat offerings.

My favorite thing there is probably their breakfast sandwich. The soft boiled egg is usually cooked well and the sandwich is a great grab & go option.

Clover’s prices have risen substantially since they first launched and many of the offerings are a relatively poor value for food, which I agree with @fooddabbler us often just passable. Despite the proximity of several Clover locations to where I live, we rarely eat there.

I like to grab a bag of their pita from the Central Sq. location and stash it in the freezer. Last night I made a version of the egg and eggplant sandwich that was pretty tasty and easy. The staff at the Central Sq. location is usually pretty helpful.

fooddabbler, which location were you at?

Harvard Square this week (but, as mentioned in another post, also had a poor – to my taste – experience at the Science Center last year). Maybe I’m just low tech, but I didn’t like their style even back when they were on Holyoke.

I agree that more of a description about their menu items in the store would be very helpful…very confusing first few visits and it makes things unnecessarily complicated. But I do like the food and the fact that they source as many local things as possible, the house-made sodas etc.

Have never had the breakfast sandwich, now I am curious!

Any chance you could share the recipe or general instructions? That sounds good!

Sure! I tend to wing it in the kitchen, so this isn’t an exact recipe. I fried (in a generous amount of very hot oil) some Chinese eggplant that was cut into wedges, sliced some steamed (easy to peel) hard-boiled eggs, chopped some Kosher dills, drizzled on some tahini sauce with garlic, lemon, salt and water, and for good measure added some leftover purchased beet tzatziki. Oh, and we threw on some leftover hummus and tomato, cucumber and feta salad. Everything was tucked into the fluffy, round pita from the restaurant. It is a hardy and tasty sandwich.

Serious Eats has a Sabich sandwich recipe which is helpful. We didn’t use the pickled cabbage that they include.


I got a Chickpea Fritter sandwich takeout once from the location in Harvard Square, but when I found out that it has 1720mg of sodium, I nearly gagged and threw it out. Good riddance.


Nearly $20 for a Chickpea sandwich and fries and they are going broke? I haven’t really eaten there since they tried to blame their salmonella outbreak on their bread supplier (seemed like the least likely culprit).

The news of Clover filing chapter 11 is unfortunate. Despite passing one or more of their locations daily, I can’t say I’ve eaten their food in a few years. It’s telling for me to look back at my own post lamenting poor value from 5 years ago, before the recent pinch of inflation even hit. I guess the business model telling people they should be happy paying $20 for dry falafel isn’t a winner. Hopefully they can restructure in some meaningful way.

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I peripherally know the founder ex-CEO Ayr. He’s a good guy. I wish his “baby” well.