City Pulse

By Amber Roniger

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Every day when noon rolls around, I turn to my co-workers with glazed-over eyes and pose the same nagging question: what are you getting for lunch? As if it’s never occurred to us before. And so every day, the same monotonous question is broached with no sensational answer.

Midtown Manhattan is not the easiest place to find lunch every day. The diversity ranks at ‘eh’ on my patented lady-who-lunches scale. Midtown is chockablock with either fancy-schmancy corporate-card, executive type places, or schlocky to-go joints. Woman cannot lunch on pizza and bagels alone, and this vegetarian won’t be caught dead buying hotdogs and gyros from the street carts.

And so today, with that dreaded question looming, I decide to try something new. I’ve heard rumors of a terrific salad place. Of course the cynical luncher in me wonders, what could be so damn innovative about salad? And not to dish, but what really gets this salad snob’s goat (I know all you other veggies out there will feel me on this) is when the meat toppings are positioned in the back row and plip-plop into the pure veggie tubs in the front, oh the bastardization of greenery! And then, to add salad insult to injury, these poseur salad artists use the same tongs to grab the veggies as the meat, WTF?! Okay, I know by now you’re thinking I’m a completely freaky-anal salad veggie militant, but consider this, if obvious little things like these aren’t addressed, then what about the big things, like properly toasted almonds and perfectly prepared edamame? No thank you. I’ve walked out of many a salad shop due to the establishment’s lacking proper salad etiquette; even the simple salad is a true art form and should be approached with delicacy and refinement.

So yes, we agree that I’m a bit of a salad erudite, but that’s fine by me. So I’m constantly on the look-out for superior salad joints. And today I decide that it’ll be worth my while to amble the few extra steps outside my usual three-square block sphere of corporate influence and investigate CHOP’T Creative Salad Company, which is located at 60 East 56th Street & 24 East 17th Street.

There is loooong line outside the salad spot. Okay, admittedly a good sign, though perhaps a teensy bit annoying (if I’m even a minute late returning from lunch, I find boss-man flapping and clucking about refilling the printer paper). But the line advances pleasingly fast and I’m within the tangy green walls in no time. Once inside, I observe the place running like a well-oiled Salad Shooter. An orchestral line of blue-uniformed men practice syncopated Kabuki-style chopping maneuvers on the salad greens. I have never before seen tae-kwan-do salad technique performed live. Que impressivo!

The validity of the soup nazi’s rules now seems clear: keep the line moving, step to the left, have your money ready. No, there is no salad radical to shame me, but there is a superior system in place at Chop’t. Numerous salad stations align in a neat row, and I can now see why the line progressed so quickly.

I sit and enjoy my lunch, chopped, diced and sliced, custom ordered to perfection, with oh-so-heavenly avocado in every single bite (all hail avocado dressing!). And now when I return again and again, I revel in the unique and super fresh ingredients. Truth be told friends, it’s by far the best chopped salad depot in town. And I love the fact that I can enjoy my lunch without cowering under the fanatical threat of ‘no salad for you!’

And so I leave you with a few random quotes from the video screens mounted on the lime green, espousing uncommon salad philosophy:

 

“Europeans traveling to the New World used avocadoes as their form of butter.” (One word: brill!)

 

“There is a celery museum in Cortage, Michigan.” (Ok, sooo did not know that!)

 

“My salad days, when I was green in judgment.” William Shakespeare. (Aaah Billy, ever the cunning linguist!)

 

“The ancient Egyptians worshiped the onion believing that its spherical shape and concentric rings symbolized eternity.” (Ode to the onion, see, me not the only crazy one!)

 

Chop’t Creative Salad Company
60 East 56th Street & 24 East 17th Street
http://www.choptsalad.com

Originally published May 2006

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