Saladish offers a great respite from Thanksgiving excess
By Erica Wayne 11/26/2013
Let me start by wishing all of you a happy turkey day despite the past week’s events. You see, although you’re reading this column in the Pasadena Weekly’s Thanksgiving edition, I’m writing it six days earlier on the anniversary of John Kennedy’s assassination. Today (my time), talks with Iran aren’t going well. We’re negotiating to remain in Afghanistan forever, and the Democrats in the US Senate have just unleashed the “nuclear” option.
Notwithstanding stock market records, unemployment is high, food stamps are being cut, it’s cloudy and I’m contemplating a weight-gain of at least five pounds just from the stuffing, gravy, mashed potatoes, yams and pies I’m planning to ingest over the next little while. Needless to say, my mood is not good.
Luckily, there is a bright spot for my late-November, pre-and post-Thanksgiving doldrums. It’s Saladish, the cute little eatery sandwiched into the south side of Colorado Boulevard just west of Fair Oaks Avenue. Despite the name of co-owner Metta World Peace (formerly Ron Artest, late of the Lakers, presently of the Knicks), Saladish may not solve all the world’s woes. But its bright interior and colorful, almost totally healthy food certainly diminishes my angst, at least temporarily.
Saladish (like its sisters in Rancho Palos Verdes and West Covina) operates like the Subway chain in as much as you order and pay for your food at the far end of a counter, then watch as your order is (quite masterfully) prepared by the staff further along from a huge array of possible ingredients, then delivered at the end of the line with relative alacrity.
Like Subway, the menu is limited, but not simply to sandwiches. Saladish, as the name implies, specializes in salads, “salad-ish” wraps, in which the ratio of greens and veggies to other ingredients is overwhelming, baked potatoes, hot sandwiches, soups and fresh organic juices. The variety is vast, portions are enormous and, best of all you leave feeling virtuous and optimistic about your own health if not that of the planet.
There are 21 choices on the salad/wrap portion of the menu. Salads are $1 more than wraps. For examples, a Cobb salad (chopped romaine, chicken, bacon, diced tomato, avocado, corn, egg, bleu cheese crumble, croutons and bleu cheese dressing) costs $9.95 with a side of bread (pita, garlic or garlic-cheese). The same mix as a wrap (jammed into a toasted flour, wheat, spinach, garlic-herb or jalapeno cheddar tortilla), is $8.95. But that’s not all. There is a 59-item list of optional toppings ($.50-$2.25 apiece) plus 18 dressings. Decision-making can be almost overwhelming.
My favorite salad/wrap so far is probably the Thai chicken ($8.95/$7.95), with romaine, diced tomato, carrot, celery, chives, peanut, wonton strips and a spicy peanut dressing. But I’m also partial to the Greek ($7.95/$6.95) with mixed baby greens, cherry tomatoes, black olive, cucumber, green bell pepper, pepperoncini, red onion, feta cheese and a feta cheese vinaigrette.
One of the most colorful is the smoked salmon ($9.95/$8.95), with baby greens, cucumber, mandarin oranges, red bell pepper, red onion and sprouts with fat-free lemon basil vinaigrette. Unfortunately, it’s the only one I can’t recommend. Lox, orange and sweet lemon dressing just don’t mix well. I’d recommend the (same price) blooming apple (romaine, chicken, bacon, apple, candied pecan, bleu cheese crumble and bleu cheese vinaigrette) or vegetarian (baby greens, tomato, artichoke heart, beets, carrot, corn, cucumber, green pepper, kidney bean, mushroom, sprouts and herbal vinaigrette) instead.
The wraps are easily three to four inches around, and it’s flabbergasting to see the behind-the-counter magicians manage to wrangle an entire bowlful of unwieldy stuffing into a tortilla, tame it into a bundle and get it sliced in half. But, as I said earlier, the largely wholesome (low-carb, low-fat) ingredients in most of Saladish’s creations won’t laden you down calorie-wise despite their size.
Unless you drift over to the “dark” side of the menu (roasted garlic chicken and cheese sandwiches — $9.95 for oven-baked potatoes loaded with sour cream, cheddar and other stuff — $4.95 to $7.95), there’s even room in your daily allotment for soup ($3.95). The fire-roasted vegetable broth is tangy, tomato-tinged and slightly smoky with bits of potato, barley, corn and squash. Organic tomato bisque is equally delicious, but probably not quite as good for you — there’s definitely cream in there.
Saladish dispenses carrot and apple juices plus a mixture of the two. But the most interesting concoction is their “green machine” consisting of apple, celery, cucumber, kale, lemon and spinach. All juices are $6.95 for 16 ounces, $8.95 for 24. Of course, if you prefer caffeine to vitamins and minerals, iced tea is a mere $1.50.
The interior of Saladish is relatively simple. It’s divided into two spaces: one with the counter, cash register and three six-seat tables with backless upholstered stools; the other with a banquette along the wall, smaller tables and comfy high-backed chairs. This room also has a “patio” overhang hung with artificial vines, and both rooms are stenciled with charming yellow and green trees and orange butterflies.
I’m finishing up this review around noon, and the sun has actually appeared. The disappearance of the clouds and my recollection of delicious, soothing meals I’ve had at Saladish are brightening my mood considerably. As a matter of fact, I think I’ll head back today for another healing repast. And, tomorrow your time (Black Friday), you’ll definitely find me at Saladish repairing Thanksgiving excess and avoiding the malls. I’d advise you all to do the same.
12 W. Colorado Blvd.,
No alcohol/Major cards