Another day, another new New York food experience. This time, it was a pre-movie bite at the Union Square Whole Foods salad bar type thing. If you haven’t seen it (and I’m led to believe that I was the last person on earth who hadn’t), it’s a rather massive operation including some basic salad bar ingredients, some pasta and meat salads, more tofu than you can shake a skewer at (“whoop de damn do,” I exclaim, channeling Derrick Coleman), and some rather dodgy-looking Indian food. Also available are sandwiches, focaccia laden like a pizza, various baked and fried chicken parts, and sushi.
The truth, as my friend explained, lies in knowing what the bargains are. Unfortunately, he explained this to me AFTER I had spent $11 on a portion of food that in no way should have cost that much (the $2.20 beer eased my pain slightly, until I remembered that I was in a grocery store). I remember the Stop & Shop salad bar being expensive, too, but…wow. I still need to visit the Fairway Café, but I’m now wondering
Easing the pain slightly, two of my three options were good. First pick was a chicken, walnut, and grape salad that would be more than welcome to inhabit my sandwich at any time this summer, even though the chicken (as always) was a little tough. The other goodie was an unmarked (and freshly delivered) cold pasta with a hint of red sauce. I think it had chunks of bland cheese in it (though it could also have been tofu – honestly, it was hard to tell, and there was only one chunk in my portion), and it certainly had grated parmesan on top.
I didn’t enjoy what was represented as “edamame succotash” – oily veggies that reminded me of something you’d put on a dry sandwich, in hell. I guess I should have known from the name – it’s not succotash if it doesn’t have limas and corn, man.
I suppose the rule of thumb for any by-the-pound salad bar is this: things that have sauces or that have a high water content (think Indian, which is probably the most expensive of any food there, or the afore-mentioned edamame) are not going to give you the best bang for the buck. Dry or lots-of-air stuff (Caesar salad or a relatively unladen pasta) might be better.
It wouldn’t be my first choice of places to eat regularly, but provided you get something that tastes good and isn’t a budget-buster, you’ll be okay. Besides, there are a TON of cute girls (and guys) there – see and be seen.