Searching for the Perfect Salad

Searching for the Perfect Salad

A quinoa summer salad at Chopt (Lois Levine)

To say that NYC is a competitive town is the understatement of the century. Case in point: On a recent midweek walk down West 42nd Street between Fifth and Sixth avenues, I was amused and impressed by how many venues there are competing for the Midtown office worker‘s lunchtime wallet on one street. Just to mention a couple: there is the nationwide chain, Panera (the ones that have those rather annoying television commercials touting "clean food"); for the major expense account executive, there is Gabriel Kreuther’s fine French fare: Jamba Juice for the city juicers; and, on this particular day, there was even a red truck from The Economist offering free vegan burger lunches to passer-bys with a $12 subscription to the magazine (I kid you not).

But I was heading for Chopt.

Every time I have walked past one of these Chopt salad places in the past and it was lunchtime, there was a line outside the door. Competitive New Yorker that I am, that not only piques my curiosity (how good are the salads here?) but makes me think, “hey, what am I missing out on? I gotta get in there!”

So, in there I went. In the front of the spotless, narrow Midtown Chopt were about 40 paper bags with names on them, for those who ordered in advance on the Chopt app (and mind you, it wasn't even noon yet). The line moved seamlessly, as these fast-lunch expert employees are trained, quick and efficient, each one being tasked with something specific. At the front of a line, there is a greens person; a person for the add-ins; someone who chops and only chops, with some very sophisticated looking chopping utensils; and, at the very end, at the cashier, someone who adds in the warm protein (for me it was marinated chicken). I started on this day with the chicken tinga salad (labeled a "first-time favorite"), which consisted of braised Freebird chicken with feta cheese, quinoa, millet and lentil blend, pita chips, kale broccoleaf and purple cabbage. Though the recommended salad dressing was Spicy Tahini Goddess and a wedge of lemon, I went with one of the new dressing, a yummy, crisp and summery Greek yogurt dressing.

I loved that the salad was not huge, but just the right size, served in a medium-deep cardboard bowl to go. The combo of the slightly-spicy chicken and the veggies and warmed millet blend, topped with that piquant dressing, really hit the spot. Also available are high-end goodies like Boulder Canyon potato chips and Parmount Nuts.

So, score one for me in this endless city food-athon. I’ve been to Chopt, and I like it!

>> Chopt, several locations including 11 W. 42nd St., 646.867.1412

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