Recently I had the opportunity to try some new food at Sprout Salad Company, a locally owned chain of three fast-casual restaurants that’s chugging along doing cool things in the salad space. I know, I know. Salad can be wahhhh wahhhh sometimes, but these guys are really damn good and they know what they’re doing.
And it’s not just for vegetarians! Sprout Salad Company offers tons of great meat options and cleverly designed salads that hit on all the right notes and interesting flavor profiles. The owners themselves don’t have culinary experience, so they consulted with a chef in L.A. on the menu and now they’re just killin’ it! They accommodate meat-eaters, vegans, vegetarians, and gluten-free peeps alike. And they don’t make you feel weird if you need to make substitutions when you order. Thank. Goodness.
When I met with one of the founders I learned about their restaurant concept and had a chance to taste some of their delicious bowls, including one of their seasonal salads. They’re now offering breakfast at their newest location near the U of M campus (309 Huron Blvd. SE, Mpls.) with polenta bowls, greek yogurt parfaits and more tasty offerings.
I love that Sprout chops their salad after you pick out all of your ingredients. The salad restaurants I usually stop at just pile everything into a take-out container and then it’s impossible to mix it all up when you go to eat it. At Sprout they also make sure to use a different chopping board for each patron so you’re truly getting your salad and nobody else’s leftover ingredients.
The bulk of the menu is their suggested salad combinations and boy does the chef know how to put the ingredients together. Everything seems to go together really well, making it easy to put down a giant salad bowl in one sitting. Veggies? Check.
I had a really hard time choosing a favorite dish because I loved different things about each entree.
The polenta bowl had everything that I want in a breakfast: Creamy savory polenta, black beans and an egg for protein, avocado for healthy fats and Cholula, which is good on everything.
In the Sienna salad I loved the olives, the mix of salad (baby kale, cabbage and radicchio) and the different textures of toasted almonds, cranberries and the how the dressing tied it all together. Ok, so I loved everything about it!
The Ensalada Mexicana is the most popular salad at Sprout Salad Company and for good reason. Mexican salad is my favorite to make for myself and this one had all the things I love: fresh tomatoes, avocado, pepitas, jalapeños, grilled corn and pickled onions. I don’t even like onions! And I absolutely adored them in this salad. So good. The jalapeño honey-lime dressing brings it all together perfectly.
The El Taco Loco (one of the current seasonal salads) was also excellent, but because I’m gluten-free and mostly vegan we had to make several substitutions so the Ensalada Mexicana made more sense for me because there was less to substitute. The Mexican Street Corn vinaigrette contains dairy but I tried the tiniest bit and oh man, it is so good. It’s a genius dressing recipe!
The fresh in-house lemonades are stellar. I love when herbs are added to drinks and their combinations are excellent. If I had to choose I’d probably say the cucumber mint was my favorite, but the others were surprising flavors (who thinks to put blueberry with basil or watermelon with rosemary?!) and totally refreshing.
Overall not only do I love the restaurant’s concept, but I also love the price point, the speed with which the team makes your meal and also their use of customer feedback. I sensed this during my conversation with the co-owner and suggested a dairy-free alternative to greek yogurt (coconut or almond yogurt) for those of us who are lactose intolerant, dairy-free or vegan. He was receptive to the idea, which I appreciated very much even if it doesn’t make it to the menu.
I also think it’s really smart to try out seasonal recipes to see what people get excited about and I love the idea of breakfast polenta bowls and unique salad creations in a fast-casual atmosphere. With three locations already in just three years, I look forward to seeing what else comes from the team at Sprout Salad Company.