Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Let us vomit

I had heard a bit about a new healthy Toronto chain where you can get a custom made salad from a variety of greens they have, and so when one opened up near my work, I went to check it out. I like the philosophy of the owner Apparently he sources his ingredients daily from the St.Lawrence Market. I also like the idea of getting to create your own salad.

Imagine my disappointment when I entered only to see a garishly lit space with a cattle-type coral for the line-up and ingredients laid out in little plastic containers like a sub shop. Bought fresh that day or not, the items in the little containers looked sad and tired. Also, there was so much that wasn't there: no sprouts (besides alfalfa), no varieties of vegetarian protein beyond one type of tofu, and a horrid fast-food - sorry, that's 'quick service' - atmosphere. I had annoying counter guy babbling away while I tried to process the huge list of ingredients.

"Have you been here before?"


"I recommend the Cobb Salad. It's a little bit of everything."

I appreciate that he was just doing his job and he was very professional, but seriously? A Cobb salad? Are we back in the 70s?

I kept looking at the little plastic pots and at the avocado tinged with brown and I did something I rarely do - I walked out. I just didn't want to pay $8 for a salad that looked like it had been made at MacDonalds and came in a giant plastic bowl. Instead I went across the street to Le Gourmand and for $10 got a kick ass sandwich (with green avocado), and a sumptuous soup. Both of these were reasonable portions. Le Gourmand celebrates the joy of eating. Across the street is the other Toronto chain Fresh. They celebrate the joy of healthy eating. I felt that this restaurant was neither.

I think this is my real problem with it. The appeal is only if you are dedicated to the Zone and have to plan out your life going protein + carb + whatever. But there is no delicious celebration of food there. It seems so utilitarian. And I honestly don't see the difference between there salads and one from a more standard 'quick service' restaurant. What this place also falls into is the gross North American concept of huge portions. Yes, it's a salad, but do you need to eat the entire salad bowl? Their soups are mammoth as well. Why can't we all just learn to eat food joyously, healthily, and in smaller portions?

Again, Le Gourmand has delicious composed salads. So many delicious salads have to be made in advance in order for their flavours to meld. I am in rapture just thinking about the beet salad or the beautiful caprese salad with the red tomatos flanking the bocconcini - all flecked with fresh basil. Yum.

I suppose if you are in a strip mall and are surrounded by Tim Hortons, Subway, and Wendys, that an eatery of this type might be a valid alternative. However, for people who are surrounded by delicious food in downtown Toronto, I see this new chain as a blight on the culinary landscape.


Anonymous said...

That just sounds sad.
At the beginning of your post I thought "mmm, i'd like a salad."
By the end of it, I'm looking forward to a Timmy's BLT!

Stewie said...

...also falls into is the gross North American concept of huge portions.


Some friends and I were discussing this very thing today. I said the rest of the world is so skinny because they don't eat.

Portions are definitely smaller outside of the US (with an exception possibly being Russia).

Anonymous said...

My mouth was watering just thinking about Le Gourmand's salad.
I always wanted to open up a restaurant that just had delicious homemade soups and beautiful leafy salads with all sorts of delicious ingredients.

Snooze said...

StD: You mention Timmys in a positive way on my blog? Grrr... ;-) [hell, even I eat there from time to time]

Stewie: It's so insane! All of us have no idea of what a normal portion size is. I won't even get started on the vile all-you-can-eat buffet.

EM: Mmmmm. That's where we should meet up one afternoon.

Matthew said...

I am the owner of Lettuce Eatery and wanted to reply to your recent blog about our eatery. I am surprised and disappointed at the tone of your comments and would appreciate a one-on-one meeting at Lettuce Eatery, for a salad on me, and a chance for you to learn more about our business, our mission, and our brand. I am confident that you would leave with a more educated opinion of our eatery, and could share your experiences in a follow up blog, perhaps. If you are willing to meet, please contact me at your convenience. In the spirit of writing accurate and fair commentary, I would welcome this opportunity.


Snooze said...

Matthew: I don't have time between work and holiday stuff to address your concerns adequately right now. I have taken out all mention to your restaurant's name so that my opinion won't come up on search engines. I'm not out to ruin your business, and I find it somewhat bizarre that you are that concerned about my opinion anyhow. Like I said at the beginning, I admire your philosophy. I admire the fact that you have built a very successful chain for yourself. also, I see that you have gotten some very good reviews from other [more reputable] sources than my blog. My blog has an audience of about 10.

Thank you for your offer, but I find it incredibly condescending to be told that I need a more educated opinion about what food I like. My comments were my honest reaction. If you think my opinion is so uneducated, then perhaps you should not be putting so much thought in trying to have me as a customer.

Anonymous said...

As one of the faithful flock of 10 readers here, I have to say that I was so turned off by Matthew's comments that I've made a note to never step foot into a Lettuce Eatery. Really, as much as I love Snooze and her blog, I can't imagine that she's going to influence the masses with it. Let it go Matthew ... Snooze was only one potential customer who didn't love your business out of many who probably do.
Also, not sure what learning about your mission statement, etc. is going to do in terms of making her change her reaction to the fact that she found your salads are boring. Maybe rather than trying to convince her, you should listen and learn.