Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Now It’s Just a Salad That I Used to Know

Full disclosure: I love Sweetgreen. When I lived in LXR my sophomore year, I got a salad from the M Street staple at least once a week. (For the record, the March salad was my favorite salad of the month; I indulged in “Pickle Madness” at least seven times in four weeks.)

In general, I find people who have obsessive feelings about salad to be really weird, but Sweetgreen deserves the admiration it has received from the Georgetown population. Their salads are delicious and filling and provide most of the vegetables I eat in any given week. (That’s life as a journalist, I guess.)

So cue my shock, awe and horror when a trip a couple of weeks ago to my favorite eatery revealed a new menu. They’ve removed the curry gold and bondi salads, and they’ve tweaked the Caesar and Cobb salads. They’re also nursing a pretty large kale obsession, letting the leafy green work its way into many of the salads in attempts to make them healthier. Is this the world we live in? We have to make salads healthier?

The question, of course, is whether the changes actually amount to improvements. In this case, I’m going to have to cling to the cliche that if it isn’t broken, you shouldn’t fix it. I mean the menu is still fine, but I can’t help but wonder why they changed it at all.

Let’s start with the two new salads, earth bowl and misoba. Earth bowl takes advantage of the grains that Sweetgreen has been trying to incorporate into its menu since January. So, you have warm grains like quinoa and couscous (and some that I can’t identify) in addition to arugula, chicken, white cheddar, tomatoes, corn, broccoli and pesto vinaigrette.

The first problem with this salad is that you need to get a lot of dressing or you won’t taste any of it — between the grains and the special cardboard bowl this salad comes in — most of the delicious goodness will get sopped up. As someone who uses the bread that comes with every salad to consume the leftover dressing, this was a pretty sad realization. The second time I got this salad — did I mention that I go to Sweetgreen a lot? — I asked for the “heavy” amount of dressing, which helped it out.

As a vegetarian, I’ll share with you the lesson I’ve recently learned — you can’t just substitute tofu for chicken when there’s cheese involved. Cheddar cheese and tofu are not a good combination, and they’re basically the same color, which led to some confusing mouthfuls. That may be more because of my inability to tell white blocks of food apart than it is any fault of Sweetgreen, but it’s still something to keep in mind.

It’s a fine salad — I’ll probably get it again — but it seems to fall short in light of that which it replaced, the curry gold. With dried cranberries, toasted almonds and a pineapple dressing, the curry gold stuck out because it was unlike any other salad I’d ever had. Earth bowl, even though it has those unconventional grains, feels much too ordinary and could be a salad you could get anywhere else.

The other new salad, misoba, could never be described as ordinary. It mixes mesclun lettuce — but really, can anyone tell different type of lettuce apart? — soba noodles, avocado, corn, carrots, seeds, cilantro, miso sesame vinaigrette and sriracha to create one of the most ingenious salads in the history of salad. I don’t know who thought of putting noodles in a salad, but that person is much smarter than I am. The avocado, sriracha and the miso sesame vinaigrette complement each other insanely well and the sriracha provides an awesome kick, but that’s something I had already learned with the forgotten bondi salad.

Oh, bondi. How I miss you. Honestly, it was a pretty similar to misoba except for the hearts of palm and wasabi peas. I had never eaten a heart of palm or a wasabi pea until this salad, but they were both deliciously utilized to create a tangy, crunchy masterpiece. It was my first Sweetgreen love, and I sorely miss its presence. The other good thing about bondi was that it came with protein, so when I substituted tofu for chicken, it cost less than adding tofu altogether. Misoba is the same price without this essential part of free substitution.

Which wins the battle though, misoba or the bondi? Maybe it’s just my sentimental memories of a salad I’ve eaten more than a dozen times, but I’m going to have to go with bondi.

That leaves me with the two changes — the Caesar and Cobb salads. The former, now called kale Caesar, is exactly the same except for a lime squeeze and that leafy green addition. My friend who tried it said it was just as good, and it made her feel a little healthier thanks to the kale, so I guess that’s good. Derby Cobb is now District Cobb — I suppose in ode to the business’ start in Washington. It swaps bleu cheese for goat cheese, has an agave Dijon dressing instead of honey Dijon and adds corn to the combination of bacon, avocado, egg and tomatoes (Apparently the guacamole greens’ lime-cilantro viniagrette now has a jalapeno addition). And, of course they’ve given District Cobb some kale.

Do people really like kale? I find it doesn’t really taste like anything. When did our lettuce choices get so trendy? Anyway, I’m not sure the Cobb salad needed this revamp, but it got it anyway.

If you don’t visit Sweetgreen regularly, you probably won’t notice much of a change. But if you’re a perennial consumer —which, let’s be honest, a lot of Georgetown students are — you might be thrown for a bit of a lurch. Your wallet will feel a little lighter, too, as many of the prices seem to have gone up. In time, I hope these salads will feel like essential parts of a well-crafted menu and we’ll forget this dark time.

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