The first Salad Creations outlet in New York state opened a month ago in Clifton Park Center, and business at the franchise owned by Stephen Kreiser is good, judging from the customers I counted the other day during a late lunch break.
Besides hosting sit-down customers, the place sells a lot of takeout to workers and shoppers, and it also offers catering.
WHERE: 22 Clifton Country Road, Clifton Park. Phone 373-8328.
WHEN: 10:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily.
HOW MUCH: $21.43.
MORE INFO: All major credit cards available. Handicapped-accessible.
The set-up at Salad Creations, which was founded only five years ago, is quite simple. You order a basic salad beginning with your choice of greens from among iceberg mix, romaine, spring mix or spinach and then choose “throw-in ingredients,” which range alphabetically from alfalfa sprouts and artichoke hearts to sunflower seeds, Swiss cheese and tomatoes, with scads of other possibilities in between. The salads come in full sizes and junior sizes. The full sizes come with any of the throw-in choices, and the junior sizes with four of them, though you can add more at 59 cents each.
You can then add “proteins,” like chicken salad or sliced ham, roast beef or turkey, Buffalo chicken or teriyaki chicken at $2.50 each.
There are also featured salads, one of which we tried — the Chinese Chopstick, which is made of spring mix lettuce, grilled teriyaki chicken, Mandarin oranges, Chinese noodles and spicy Asian peanut dressing. I opted for the junior size ($5.99), which was a generous portion. The full-size prices range up to $8.99 (for Florida Sunshine Cobb, Santa Fe Chicken or Wild Alaskan Salmon salad.)
You can have the salad in traditional tossed salad form or you can ask that it be chopped. Chopping your salad, the menu says, means you “get more taste out of every bite.” I’m unsure if that’s so or if you simply chew less. If you say yes to chopped, which I did, the salad chef will noisily chop up your salad, working the metal chopper in the metal bowl that you will eventually carry to your table. It’s a noisy place.
The salad ingredients were crisp and fresh tasting, and the spicy peanut dressing was a nice touch, as were the Mandarin orange pieces, which added a sweet foil to the savory peanut and chicken flavors and textures.
Soups and wraps, too
Salad Creations offers at least two daily soups, though the day we visited it seemed there were five or six, including Italian wedding soup, chili, portobello mushroom, New England clam chowder and Baja chicken, which I ordered ($3.49). The soup is a thick bisque studded with chicken, corn, black beans, onions and tomato bits and, after a taste, I concluded that its orange color comes from a generous quantity of cayenne. This is the soup you want when you need to clear your head. I have asbestos taste buds but even I would describe this concoction as spicy hot, which to me is not a bad thing, but not everyone is so disposed.
If soup and salad aren’t your thing, you can also get a wrap at Salad Creations for $6.99. Choices include a spicy Buffalo chicken Caesar with hard-boiled egg, tomatoes, bacon bits, Parmesan cheese, romaine, hot sauce, croutons and Caesar salad. That seemed like a lot to cram into a wrap, but it seemed to work. We ordered the light dressing rather than the regular, and I have to say it didn’t remind me much of a Caesar salad, but it was nevertheless tasty.
They also offer a roast beef wrap with red onions, Swiss cheese and Thousand Island dressing, a grilled chicken fajitas wrap that includes cheddar cheese, hot sauce, croutons and creamy ranch dressing and a Wasabi chicken salad wrap that includes cucumber wasabi dressing, as well as tomatoes and carrots and, of course, chicken salad.
There is also a vegetarian wrap called the Chopped Veggie, which features artichoke hearts, chickpeas, tomatoes and balsamic vinaigrette dressing. You can order low-carb or low-fat dressings.
Drink options include coffee, sodas and juices as well as bottled water.
If your sweet tooth needs a little something, oatmeal and chocolate chip cookies are available for $1.49 each and cookie bites for $1.29. And there are a few fresh fruit choices offered.
The staff was pleasant and helpful and, while this is the kind of place where you mostly wait on yourself, they do come to your table and ask if everything’s to your liking, which is always a nice touch.
Our tab — for a shared junior salad, sodas, Baja chicken soup and the Buffalo chicken Caesar wrap with tax and a tip — came to $21.43.
I’m not sure exactly when it happened that sandwiches made with good old-fashioned bread would become secondary to wraps, but it certainly seems to be the trend. I personally prefer actual bread to wraps, which seemed to surge in popularity during the low-carbohydrate craze of a few years ago. Are they simply what’s hip currently or is there a good health reason to choose a wrap over a conventional sandwich? Just wondering.