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need to improve house salad...

post #1 of 26
Thread Starter 

I have had some complaints on a our house salad , boring, dull. Which I must argree, mixed greens, carrot, tomato and mushroom.....what I would like to see is a WOW factor on the house salad without alot of added cost or hasel to prepare....I have thought about beets, baby corn, cucumber but thats kinda the same old thing...any thoughts on somthing differnt or a cool presentation.... ???

post #2 of 26

This is a tough one.  It has to be neutral enough for everyone but interesting enough as well.  A few ideas. You can use pickled vegetables as garnish.  Fresh tossed is great.  Have a salad station set up so the servers can do it while they stand there waiting for their stuff.  :)  

post #3 of 26

jicama

roasted corn kernels

toasted pumpkin seeds or roasted sunflower seeds

canellini beans

dried fruit....strawberries, cranberries, blueberries, sun dried pears

broccoli and cauliflower florets(tiny)

yellow grape tomatoes

baby beets

roasted red peppers

 

also maybe offer another house salad besides a garden style...we have a very popular fruit and baby greens salad; grapes, gorgonzola, cranberries, mandarin oranges, sun dried pears and walnuts...tossed with poppyseed dressing

 a small caesar would be inexpensive......everyone loves a good caesar...of course the dressing and the amount used is key

 

joey

food is like love...it should be entered into with abandon or not at all        Harriet Van Horne

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food is like love...it should be entered into with abandon or not at all        Harriet Van Horne

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post #4 of 26

Boring and dull looking, or boring and dull tasting?

 

Or boring and dull both?

post #5 of 26
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Meezenplaz View Post

Boring and dull looking, or boring and dull tasting?

 

Or boring and dull both?

yep you got it....all of the above

post #6 of 26

I have a similar dilemma here at my place. The house salad has to be simple and "neutral" to please all tastes, yet I find such salads extremely boring. I've decided to pimp mine only slightly, French bistro-style, with fried bacon and croutons, the latter fried in the bacon fat. I'm always struggling with the presentation, though...

 

Cheers,

Recky

post #7 of 26

Believe it or not, there are people out there who think Romaine is "strong tasting."

post #8 of 26

yeah, you're right kuan...it is unbelievable, but i have heard of that....

fryguy, maybe just focus more on the greens and the dressings...nix the obligatory tomato wedge, cuke slice and shredded carrots...

 i would get rid of the mushrooms as well....unless they are absolutley fresh, they have no taste, the texture can be rubbery or watery and they have no nutritional value at all .they don't even look good on a salad plate imo.  personally and professionally i would much rather see a nice plate of interesting greens tossed lightly with a unique dressing than a 'typical' house salad.....perhaps add something for a little bit of a crunch. maybe just a blend of shredded zucchini and yellow squash.  if you use croutons, please make sure they are made inhouse and not out of a sysco bag. nothing gives away a bad salad like those croutons you see on salad bars  that all look alike.....perfectly square and all dusted with the same tasteless spice they coat them in....are your dressings scratch dressings? what are they? maybe you can make a few dressings that people connect to portland....an espresso vinaigrette or a blueberry vinaigrette...what other foods or cuisine styles are you famous for?..here in the southwest we have a chipotle ranch(cuz people always want ranch dressing of some sort), and a southwest caesar dressing..perhaps something along those lines.....anyway, just a few thoughts.

 

joey

food is like love...it should be entered into with abandon or not at all        Harriet Van Horne

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food is like love...it should be entered into with abandon or not at all        Harriet Van Horne

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post #9 of 26

The best house salad I ever had included crisp, well dried lettuce, grape tomatoes, a bit of shredded carrot (good quality and sweet), good quality english cuke slices, a bit of (again) good quality shredded (by hand, not the nasty dry pre-shredded crap from a bag) sharp cheddar and large cubes of both rye and sourdough croutons (from house made bread, crisp and buttery, but not greasy) all topped with house made ranch dressing (not from a gallon jug and thinned with vinegar)...served in a cold bowl.

Oh yeah, had a slice of perfectly boiled and well chilled (but not dry) egg.

IMO anything else and you need to either offer on a different salad creation or set up a salad bar.

 

Jo has offered quite a few salad ideas that are also faves...fresh, sweet fruit with candied nuts tossed into a mix of greens...if one of the fruit choices includes a few nuggets of juicy oranges I can even skip the dressing.

 

IMO if the salad offering includes great produce, clean and crisp and flavorful you have hit the target.

 

mimi

post #10 of 26

A successful house salad satisfies a majority of the customers of that particular house.

 

That pertains to:

  • the selection of salad greens
  • the selection of garnishes
  • the selection of one or more dressings

 

In other words, know your clientele!

 

In my experience, there are two major categories of salad greens choices; Iceberg and anything else crazy.gif. Those who like Iceberg have little appreciation for anything else and those who like anything else have little appreciation for Iceberg.

 

Garnishes may fall into the same categorization, For example, some like hard boiled egg, others do not. Some like mushrooms, some detest them. And the list goes on.

 

Without question, dressings also elicit varied responses. A fair minority do not want any dressing, others prefer vinaigrette or Thousand Island or Green Goddess or Bleu Cheese, creamy or dry, etc.

 

Is it possible to satisfy everyone? Nope.

 

What is the answer? There are multiple options:

  • Develop a house salad that meets the likes of a majority of your customers
  • Develop two house salads to meet the likes of Iceberg vs. other greens
  • Select garnishes that a majority enjoy.
  • Offer a choice of garnishes
  • Choose a dressing that a majority of your customers enjoy
  • Offer a choice of dressings compatible with your choices of greens and garnishes

 

The best option? Ask your customers what they want. After all, the happier they are the more money in the till!

 

Knowing what other chefs and restaurant owners/managers have had success with is helpful but what will work best for you is what your customers want.

Chef,
Specialties: MasterCook/RecipeFox; Culinary logistics; Personal Chef; Small restaurant owner; Caterer
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Chef,
Specialties: MasterCook/RecipeFox; Culinary logistics; Personal Chef; Small restaurant owner; Caterer
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post #11 of 26

I would agree with Pete and would add that no matter what your salad creations might be, make them the best they can be. Make the dressings from scratch. There are many places out there that are known for their salads. Keep them simple, but pay attention. 

post #12 of 26

Pete is spot on . Only thing I would add is try and find greens that are available year round to keep it consistant. Also chill the dish and even the fork . It gives them something to talk about and makes you remembered.

Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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post #13 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by kuan View Post

Believe it or not, there are people out there who think Romaine is "strong tasting."

if they think romaine is strong tasting, whatever must they think of frisee, which to me tastes and feels like chewing a man's beard, or radicchio?

 

joey wink.gif

food is like love...it should be entered into with abandon or not at all        Harriet Van Horne

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food is like love...it should be entered into with abandon or not at all        Harriet Van Horne

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post #14 of 26

I like frisee but raw radicchio is still too bitter for my taste.

post #15 of 26

before you put your grill away phatch, try grilling radicchio then drizzle with balsamic redux....shaved parm is good as a topper as well...

 

joey

food is like love...it should be entered into with abandon or not at all        Harriet Van Horne

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food is like love...it should be entered into with abandon or not at all        Harriet Van Horne

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post #16 of 26

Yeah, I like it cooked.

post #17 of 26

grilled frisee is pretty awesome...what i would like to see in a house salad would be seasonal greens with seasonal veggies with a seasonal dressing...but then again that could be rather expensive as well.

post #18 of 26

it wouldn't be expensive if everything were 'seasonal'...just think of the possibilties...right now i'm thinking about a creamy butternut squash or a fresh pressed apple cider dressing.....hmmm, the possibilties....

 

joey

food is like love...it should be entered into with abandon or not at all        Harriet Van Horne

Reply

food is like love...it should be entered into with abandon or not at all        Harriet Van Horne

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post #19 of 26

A restaurant's house salad will depend on a number of factors:

 

1. Restaurant type:

- Depending on the type of restaurant it is, a house salad can be a simple side salad type with a common dressing or a complex composed salad with a more exotic dressing.

 

2. Clientele:

- Know who you are serving and what they prefer.  Maybe your customers think anything outside of an iceberg with tomato and cukes is exotic.

 

3. Cost:

- Menu cost will determine food cost which in part determines what ingredients you can play with.

 

As an example, I'm a chef/owner of a Japanese restaurant.  Most typical Japanese restaurants use as their house salad a mix iceberg and shredded carrot with ginger dressing.  I wanted to get away from that and differentiate myself by using a hand selected mesclun mix and grape tomatoes with a wasabi yuzu dressing (made with wasabi, yuzu, rapeseed oil, soy sauce, poppy seeds and a few other ingredients).  I also give the customer an option of adding thinly sliced avocados for an additional cost which over half of the customers do add.  Sometimes in cooking, simplicity is best provided that the few ingredients serves it's purpose.  My house salad is simple but it's presented well and the dressing is unique and most importantly, according to customer feedback, delicious.  I have many of my customers asking me to bottle and sell the dressing at the restaurant.

post #20 of 26

Just a thought...the majority of restaurants that include a salad with every entree make the portion way too large.

I am a grazer and find it overwhelming when faced with a cereal bowl full of lettuce and veg topped with a ladle full of dressing (plus the bread basket) when dining out.

Thomas's post made me think.

Benihana is a favorite lunch spot for my daughter (good meat and the chicken fried rice with that fab house butter is awesome IMO).

The salad served is very small (and fresh!) with a spot of ginger dressing.

I can easily finish it and still have room to enjoy the rest of the meal (altho still take half of it home) and not feel too stuffed.

I tended the bar at the Hofbrau http://www.hofbrausteaks.com/about-hofbrau/about-hofbrau-steaks/ while putting myself thru nursing school.

The house salad was a handful of lettuce with an olive dressing and was just right.

Leaves plenty of room for a hunk 'o meat and fries.

 

mimi

post #21 of 26

It's not easy trying to change up the salad while keeping costs in line.

We had a Caesar Salad presented in a Parmesan tuile but always had consistency problems with the bowls. It was never the same cook making them and they didn't always comes out right.

The costs for salad during the summer months when lettuces are in abundance are better than their winter counterparts.

I agree with simplicity.

Every restaurant kitchen has in their walk-ins', a shelf with odds and ends from service.

How about a "Salad du Jour" to help utilize those leftovers?

post #22 of 26

A simple garnish for a salad is to peel a cucumber and make long julienne strips on a mandoline or just make long strips of cucumber.

post #23 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by Recky View Post

I have a similar dilemma here at my place. The house salad has to be simple and "neutral" to please all tastes, yet I find such salads extremely boring. I've decided to pimp mine only slightly, French bistro-style, with fried bacon and croutons, the latter fried in the bacon fat. I'm always struggling with the presentation, though...

 

Cheers,

Recky

 

What about plating the salad in a torilla bowl ?  Or cucumber bowls ?

 

Petals.

Petals
Réalisé avec un soupçon d'amour.

Served Up
(162 photos)
Wine and Cheese
(62 photos)
 
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Petals
Réalisé avec un soupçon d'amour.

Served Up
(162 photos)
Wine and Cheese
(62 photos)
 
Reply
post #24 of 26

One of the things I have done to fix up House Salads is to not second guess the customers wants or wishes.

 

I also try to not over think the salad.

 

(((  One Caveat! - Always Always cut your veggies properly, there is no place for robot-coup radishes or shredder disk carrots in a salad. etc. I see this all the time and hate it.! )))

 

Don't limit the items you put on the salad because you think some people won't like the item, rather limit the amount of the item on the salad.

Put another way; limit the portion size of the item not the total number of items that are on a salad and you will appeal to more people.

Also make it as easy as possible for people to remove any particular item, don't mix! rather layer items.

 

For example - our house salad has the following (currently):

 

Green Leaf Lettuce mixed 50 / 50 with iceberg lettuce as a base, chopped 1"x2" with a fair amount of variation preferably smaller ie. use this as a maximum size - and keep the portion small.  A generous handfull is lots.

2 tomato wedges (medium size toms cut into 6 wedges)

2 lightly peeled cucumber slices cut on the bias about 1/4" thick no skin but some of the green part still on (should be about 1.5" x 2" or there abouts)  I prefer english rather than field.

1 small pinch of polar sliced medium red onions (about 1-2 inches long 1/8" thick) if very strong soak in water before service

4 half moons of radish that have been soaked in water to tame the heat and stay white - grey radishes look terrible ( 1/8" thick or less)

1 small pinch of long carrot strands, use a juliene peeler so you can only take the outer portion of the carrot that is the sweetest and leave the fiberous center for stock etc.

1 small pinch of long red cabbage strands, cut the head into quarters then peel the flatter outer layers off, squish flat and finely shred them, put the inner core and any small threads into the stock etc.

4 half moons of sliced mushrooms

4 half strips of sweet red pepper

 

Plate in a "pin-wheel" fashion, greens in middle surrounded by the larger items (tomatoes, cucumbers, radish, mushrooms and peppers) on the edge but not on the rim of the plate.   The shredded items should be placed in the middle with the darker colours on bottom moving up to the lighter colours.  

 

Everything is prepped in advance, but the person manning the GM station assembles everything to order by hand and has to be strict with quality control.  They need a veggie stock pot nearby during service if the prep-cooks double as dishwashers.  hint hint

 

We serve the dressing on the side and simply nestle the portion cup on one side usually near a tomato as they hold the cup steadier.  (honestly i'd rather not serve the dressing on the side but what can you do these days?!)

 

This allows new customers to 'pick-off' things they don't like and allows us to see who is a repeat customer as in "Fred always requests no tomatoes, no radishes", etc.  

 

No single item is going to "ruin" the dish for some one who doesn't like that item yet those people who like them all will be super happy.

 

A note on garnishes - they take the house out of salad if you get my meaning.

They make the house salad, more of a specialty thing, rather than a 'house salad'.

 

Save the micro-greens, bacon, croutons, pickles, cheeses, fruit, nuts etc. for the "specialty salads" that will both earn you more money and get greater reviews from specific clients.

 

If you want ideas for specialty salads just ask I've done a lot of years as Garde-Manger and wistfully would like to go back.

 

(hope everything is clear*ish)

 

Mike


Edited by MichaelGA - 10/29/12 at 9:23pm

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"Plus, this method makes you look like a complete lunatic. If you care about that sort of thing".  - Dave Arnold

 

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"Plus, this method makes you look like a complete lunatic. If you care about that sort of thing".  - Dave Arnold

 

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post #25 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by petalsandcoco View Post

 

What about plating the salad in a torilla bowl ?  Or cucumber bowls ?

 

Petals.


I like the idea a lot. While tortilla or cucumber bowls would seem rather gimmicky at my country-style restaurant, you have given me, quite literally, food for thought... :-)

 

Thanks for that!

 

Recky

post #26 of 26
I find good greens, fresh herbs, cherry tomatoes, a little red onion (not too much. It becomes over welming) and something pickled for a garnish. With either a balsamic vin or a fruit vin goes over well with a lot of people.
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