Friday, February 15, 2013

Happy To Eat My Greens

I tend to avoid restaurants that focus on salad as the main course. They conjure up images of either wilted greens in a buffet-style restaurant complete with early 90s decor or the type of place only girls who don't like food would frequent. Those who see food as an enemy rather than a friend, i.e., not me.

My opinion of this was altered when I saw a new restaurant open up here in Albuquerque. And after checking out their website and reading reviews, I knew I had to give it a try. Vinaigrette is a salad bistro that started in Santa Fe and recently opened up a second location here in the Duke City. My parents and sister were in town last weekend, so I suggested we give it a try for lunch.

The atmosphere is bright, colorful, modern, and fresh. Just like the incredible food. I ordered the I Yam What I Yam Salad which is baby greens with pancetta, pomegranate seeds and a haystack of maple-glazed yam shoestrings with maple mustard vinaigrette. Amazing. This was the best salad I have ever eaten. It was fresh and flavorful and I did not leave any of it on my plate! I'm not generally a huge fan of salad, but I could eat this one everyday. It was perfection. Vinaigrette has the salad down to an art. Each is perfectly dressed, not drowning in dressing, a little in every bite, just enough to add a hint of flavor. I also appreciate that each ingredient in their salads are proportionate to one another. Some restaurants try to make their salads look like works of art by slapping huge ingredients on top of a bed of greens. But the problem with that is it becomes very awkward to eat as everything is a different size and you wonder if you should be using a knife.

The menu is primarily salads, but there are a few sandwiches, soups, and other items. My sister ordered the Cuban Torta, which is mustard-roasted pork shoulder and green chile ham, griddled with red onions and Swiss cheese on a split roll with avocado and mayonnaise, chipotle and sweet relish. She had a side Greek Salad with it as well. It is chopped cucumber, tomato, bell pepper, red onion and crumbled feta cheese, with a classic vinaigrette. She loved hers as well. My parents loved their meals too.

After  a wonderful first visit, I had to go back. My mother-in-law is in town for the weekend, and I thought she might enjoy it as well. So she, Jack and I decided to head there for lunch today. In the photo above you can get a better idea of the interior and notice Jack eating his goldfish with a spoon as we waited for our meal. The mind of a toddler is fascinating.

We ordered Erin's Mac and Cheese for him and he absolutely loved it. Much better than the goldfish. We liked it too (we each tried a bite). It was served with fruit and veggies on the side. 

I ordered the sandwich and salad duo with the Morty and Cheese which is Mortadella and tangy melted robbiola with scallion yogurt sauce, on griddled and pressed ciabatta and a side Cobb Salad. I asked for baby greens because I'm weird and don't like romaine. They kindly obliged. The sandwich was delicious and the salad was too!

My mother-in-law ordered the soup and salad combo. She chose the soup of the day which was a green chile corn chowder and the Omega salad which is leafy greens chopped and tossed with sweet corn, diced bell pepper, tomato, avocado, red onion, cilantro and toasted pine nuts with blue cheese vinaigrette. She raved about hers as well.

I love that Vinaigrette serves fresh, flavorful food that is perfectly portioned. You leave feeling satisfied, not stuffed. If you find yourself in Albuquerque (or Santa Fe), give it a try. You will not regret it!

Vinaigrette on Urbanspoon

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