Salad Days

Urban Eats’ (Appropriately) Urbane Botanical Offerings

The Asian chopped salad is enough to make your forget the 3 Pig Truffled Mac 'n' Cheese.

By Joanna O'Leary April 19, 2017

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The Asian chopped salad.

Image: Ellie Sharp

Usually when I go to Urban Eats with some intention to eat something "good for me" (as defined by the FDA food pyramid) I rapidly lose my resolve as I pass by other diners’ tucking into to bowls of 3 Pig Truffled Mac-and-Cheese or the Mob Boss sliders. And though I do generally adhere to Michael Pollan’s consumption edict ("Eat Food. Mostly Plants. Not too much."),  I also believe there is a time and place for vegetables to be front and center and that time and place is not lunch at Urban Eats.

But recently I had an epiphany of sorts while dining at Urban Eats. Don’t worry, it wasn’t Proustian in scale, so I didn’t go comatose while tumbling down a rocky memory lane. And, it wasn’t due to a bite of a cookie, either, but rather from a cautious first nibble of the “Asian chopped salad,” whose clichéd moniker belied far more unusual flavors and textures. Combining bitter greens, Napa cabbage, jicama, scallions, cilantro, cucumber and mint, the salad was simultaneously bitter, sweet, acidic and refreshing.

Contrasting these more aromatic elements were stray strands of fried (but not oily) ramen, tender slivers of white chicken, and a rich, nutty sesame ginger dressing modestly distributed throughout the salad. The aforementioned components as well as their preparation (even dicing) gave rise to pleasant crispy, crunchy mouthfeel that had me torn between savoring each bite and shoveling forkfuls into my gob as fast as possible because it tasted so damn good.  Thus my epiphany: I could eat this salad and only this salad right now and not miss having Urban Eats’ famous Monkey Bread. Yes, the Asian chopped salad was really that good.

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Char-grilled zucchini.

Image: Ellie Sharp

My dining companion appreciated this sentiment, but insisted I still try another one of Urban Eats’s newish veggie offerings. Fortunately, my botanical bliss was not broken but enhanced after sampling some juicy strips of char-grilled zucchini dusted with sliced almonds, capers, and tangy feta. As in the case of the Asian salad, this dish's strata of varied textures alongside the sophisticated collaboration of legume, berry and dairy notes rendered it exemplary.

This is not to say I'm swearing off burgers, mac 'n' cheese and Monkey Bread every time I visit Urban Eats. I'm just saving more room for vegetables.

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