Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Battle of the blades: Chop't vs. sweetgreen

"Fast food" and "fresh salad" don't have to be mutually exclusive. I've enjoyed veggie-filled bowls at two local salad purveyers, Chop't Creative Salad and sweetgreen. Both shops offer fresh, creative combinations that make it easy to eat your colors. But if they were side by side, I'd head for sweetgreen. Here's why.

There's some esthetics involved. The Bethesda branch of sweetgreen is a light, airy space, with all of the ingredients clearly presented below eye level, behind glass. Chop't is darker, and the diner has to peer over a tall stainless-steel counter to watch the salad assembly.

At first, I thought the Chop't folks' exuberant use of the mezzaluna was a showy gimmick. Did I really want my meal to be minced? But the chopping does serve to mix the ingredients thoroughly, perhaps more than can be achieved by tossing.

Caution: When the Chop't menu says "spicy," it's for real. (Another key word: "chili.") I like a little heat, but both of the dressings I've tried were potent, more heat than flavor. And I asked for light dressing.

sweetgreen was founded in DC by three Georgetown students in 2007. I'm happy to support local businesses, and I like its use of local ingredients, always highlighted and sourced on a prominent chalkboard.

This is the only salad I have ever craved: sweetgreen's Spicy Sabzi. Organic baby spinach and shredded kale with spicy quinoa, spicy broccoli, carrots, raw beets, basil, sprouts and roasted tofu, boosted with a Sriracha-spiked carrot chili vinaigrette.

Veggies don't have to be dutiful and dull!

Sweetgreen on Urbanspoon

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