Sorry about those warm weather comments last week. I feel responsible for the snow we have now and, and the snow we’re supposed to get this week. Mea culpa.
Are people still into the Zodiac Sign thing? I hadn’t heard anyone mention Signs for a long time, then I ran across an article on Eat This, Not That. Your Favorite Fast Food Chain According To Your Zodiac Sign tries to match you, your sign, and the fast food chain you’re destined to become in another life. Mine was shockingly accurate, so maybe there’s something to all this!
I’ve been a fan of a good salad for as long as I remember. As a kid, one of my favorite things to do when we went out for dinner was hit the salad bar (*Cough*Ponderosa*Cough*). So Many Choices! When I’m working downtown I have 3 favorite salads I rotate through.
Cluster Truck has cured my hunger too many times to count, especially during Covid, when getting lunch delivered was difficult at times. The Cluster Truck Cobb Salad has been my favorite for a long time. I’ve also watched as the delivery of this Salad has risen from $19 to almost $24 today (with a tip). It’s a little on the pricey side but when I need a big salad and only have 15 minutes to eat, it hits the spot. This salad has chopped egg, bacon, diced chicken breast, romaine lettuce, cherry tomatoes, avocado, red onion, and blue cheese. It’s normally served with a side of balsamic vinaigrette, but I substitute that for their ranch.
A newer fascination of mine is Sweet Green. Having recently been disappointed by a “salads only” shop near my office, I didn’t have high hopes for this one. Several of my co-workers had visited and all were singing the praises of Sweet Green. I finally launched the app and was immediately captivated by their Buffalo Chicken Bowl. Consisting of: blackened chicken, chopped pickles*, tomatoes, cilantro, blue cheese, za’atar breadcrumbs, shredded kale, chopped romaine, sweetgreen hot sauce, caesar dressing, this salad packs a punch. The Caesar dressing along with the hot sauce are the real standouts here.
*These are a new addition and I have not tried the salad with pickles yet, but I’m looking forward to it!
Finally, when I want a solid salad, and I’m ready for a short walk, I head a few blocks east to Whole Foods Market. Often referred to as “Whole Paycheck”, you can break the bank at the salad bar because you pay by the pound. Unfortunately all the good things on the salad bar are heavy. Mixed greens, cheese, olives, marinated mushrooms, roasted mushrooms, cucumbers, roasted chicken, bell peppers, bacon bits, and ranch dressing? Yep, that’s a big boy and I’m taking it down. My salads at Whole Foods average around $20 but I usually end up not eating dinner or just snacking later in the evening. PLUS it’s a good excuse to get some fresh air and walk away from the office for 30-minutes.
BONUS SALAD: If you’re ever in the Nora area I strongly recommend you go to Big Lug and order a Willie’s Special along with a pint of whatever brewers choice is on special that day. For $20 (before tip) you get a punch-in-the-face salad and a cold beer. The Willie’s Special has mixed greens tossed in ranch, topped with a choice of hot or mild fried Nashville chicken, black bean corn salsa, diced mozzarella, guacamole, & Frito salt. I HIGHLY recommend the MILD Nashville chicken. They make the sauce in-house, so I’m told, and it’s usually hotter than a true mild. I’ve also been told “it depends who makes it”.
OK, Special Mention (can you tell I’m kind of a salad junkie?): Sahms on 116th St in Fishers (same owners as Big Lug) surprised me last Friday with a Cobb that had diced grilled chicken breast (very juicy and well seasoned), capacollo, Roma tomatoes, crisp bacon, hard-boiled eggs, avocados, scallions, crumbled bleu cheese. The Chicken was still warm, normally a problem with salads, but it was not so hot as to wilt anything so it was a nice contrast to the cold salad.
So there it is, the 5 salads I’m thinking about when I’m thinking about eating a salad. As you can see, I’m not a micro-green and light vinaigrette kind of guy. When I was dipping my toes in the Keto diet I found that these kinds of salads are more in line with Keto than the Standard American Diet (SAD). That got my attention. But as I said before, this can be my one meal of the day and I’ll be completely happy. As someone who usually skips breakfast (now called Intermittent Fasting) I’m usually not hungry for anything before 10 am and by then I just wait for lunch.
And finally… You need to be nice to our future robot overlords. My suggestion is to purchase some Boston Dynamics stock to show your support.
First of all I’d like to say “Welcome Back” to California Pizza Kitchen (CPK) after a long absence from Indianapolis. When the Keystone at the Crossing location closed we started missing the BBQ Chicken Chopped Salad immediately. We were randomly rewarded with that dish when we made it down to Texas or Water Tower Place in Chicago but that was few and far between…
The new CPK location in Circle Center Mall downtown is great. It took the place of Alcatraz and my sentiments appear to be shared by many online when I say this is a HUGE upgrade for the space. With a mix of indoor and outdoor seating CPK seats around 200 guests and does not seem that big (it’s only utilizing the ground floor of the 2-floors occupied by Alcatraz). It’s not a quiet place by any means so prepare yourself for some noise. The open kitchen can be seen from just about ever table as well.
We arrived around 6:30 on a Friday night & had a 5-10 minute wait before being seated. Initial service was prompt and courteous and our drink/app orders were placed. Service started getting a little slow after that. Nothing ridiculous but you could tell they were still getting everything working smoothly.
We ordered the following:
- Bang Bang Shrimp
- Kids Pizza – Pepperoni, Sausage & Mushroom (Son)
- Wild Mushroom Pizza with Chicken (Me)
- Kung Pao Spaghetti (Daughter)
- BBQ Chicken Chopped Salad minus Cilantro add avocado (Wife)
The shrimp appetizer was delivered quickly and was identical to when you get a PF Changs and Bonefish. It was just large enough for the four of us to each get a few bites. So far so good.
After a while three of the four entrees was delivered with the salad, of all things, being over 5 minutes behind the pizza and pasta. Once delivered it looked (and tasted) great. Kind of odd that the only cold item ordered took the longest to receive.
The Kids pizza was quickly devoured and reported to be great. The wild mushroom pizza lacked salt but once added was very tasty. The crust was tender and flavorful just like I remember it.
The Kung Pao Spaghetti was the surprise dish at the table. It was loaded with spice and surrounded by dried red chilies. The pasta was cooked perfectly.
The BBQ Chicken Chopped Salad looked and tasted great. Even with 3 of us sampling it my wife had about 1/2 left to bring home for the next day.
Overall I’m going to give CPK a 4 out of 5. The food was good but the service was just a little off. We’ll be making repeat visits, there’s no doubt about that, & hope to see the timing improve.
Cool, refreshing, crunchy and savory. Those words all describe the classic Greek Salad. The use of local summer produce makes this even better. This salad goes great with burgers, pork chops or even by itself. Be sure to use good quality oil, vinegar and feta cheese.
1 package cherry tomatoes, halved (about 2 cups)
2 diced seeded & peeled English cucumbers
1 diced red bell pepper
1 diced yellow bell pepper
1 cup pitted kalamata olives or other brine-cured black olives, halved
1/2 thinly sliced medium red onion
1 teaspoon dried oregano
6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
8oz feta cheese cubed
Freshly ground pepper to taste (you should not need salt because of the feta and olives)
Combine all vegetables and set aside.
Whisk Oil, Vinegar & lemon juice into a light emulsion. Pout vinaigrette over vegetables and mix to combine.
Add feta and mix lightly. Serve immediately or refrigerate until ready to serve.
Vinaigrette may partially solidify if refrigerated overnight. If this occurs, leave bowl on the counter for 10-15 minutes prior to mixing and serving.