The Wall Street Journal published a roundup yesterday of our fellow Americans waxing nostalgic over the end (temporarily? forever?) of the salad bar. Because what is more American than ordering something healthy like salad and then smothering it in bacon bits, croutons, and creamy dressing?
But the interesting thing about this piece is that the interviewees mentioned items that were very specific. One man said he missed the salad bar at the Peddler Steakhouse in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, which contained 45 items. “Oh, there were smoked oysters…who does that?” he said. “And those tiny corns and actual bacon, but also Bacos—I mix the two together. And those little fried onions, and green-bean casserole, and like 10 or more dressings.”
A New Orleans bartender recalled the sense of independence she got the first time she made her own salad at the Sizzler salad bar. “The first time, getting to make your own salad…it was like…it’s yours, yours for the making.” Later, the Whole Foods salad bar introduced her to new foods like quinoa.
An old man in Seal Beach, California, grew nostalgic for his local Souplantation, where he and his wife would go to meet friends.
I admit I am not quite as attached to salad bars as these people, but over the past few years, I did develop a fondness for the salad bar at Beatrix Market, a Chicago minichain. It had grilled romaine and Little Gem lettuce and excellent smoked turkey (and, if I’m being completely honest here, lovely pastries, too), and one of the locations was a good 15-minute walk from the office, which gave me a chance to get some fresh air and stretch my legs. I also admit, I haven’t thought of Beatrix in the entire time I’ve been away from the office in quarantine, but this all brings it back to me, and wow, I could go for a salad now that doesn’t require me buying and preparing each individual component. That, friends, is freedom.
What do you miss most about the salad bar?