The Little Salad Shop’s mission statement of “bringing affordable and healthy eating to everyone” is missing just one word: tasty.
Located on 45 High St., The Little Salad Shop is situated near a few other quick eateries like Atticus, Starbucks and, why not, Froyo World. Though also close to many of Yale’s most popular frats, the salad bar is no late-night eatery, and there are only two small tables for a maximum of six people to enjoy a sit-down meal.
The student-owned, salad-serving establishment is endearing like a small town café. The student workers [don’t wear hair nets] are friendly, the ground is brown hardwood, and the menu is written in colored chalk on a blackboard. That’s not it: the prices have been calibrated with respect to tax to always have bills in full dollar amounts, so you’ll never have to dig for exact change.
Anyway, the salads are kind of cheap! Whether it be one off the set menu or one that you create yourself, all veggieful concoctions are either $7 or $8. The smoothies, also very affordable, range from $3 to $5.
Here’s the bad stuff: when it comes to the taste and quality of the food, you’ll likely find more satisfying options elsewhere.
The Summertime Salad (suggested topping: raspberry dressing) features a fresh mix of vegetables, strawberries, edamame and apples. The dressing was not terribly sweet, but the fruit was so ripe that the sugary taste became a little overpowering. At the same time, the vegetable mix was highly unremarkable — a standard mix of greens one could find in a prepackaged bag or easily recreate in a dinning hall.
The Blue Buffalo Salad also fell short. Consisting of romaine, buffalo chicken, celery, tomatoes, carrots and blue cheese, the blend is an adaptation of your weekly hot wings & celery experience (not mine). Sadly, the result is an unflattering, soggy mix of buffalo sauce and lettuce. The chicken, with that synthetic zing that (hopefully) screams “Trader Joe’s Frozen Food Aisle,” simply could not redeem the salad.
The third salad I tried, The Little Salad Shop’s own Wasabi Salad, was an improvement from the previous two — though perhaps because I didn’t actually get what I ordered. The shop was woefully out of stock of some ingredients, and my Wasabi Salad was completely transformed by the substitutions. Instead of teriyaki chicken, bean sprouts and wasabi beans, I had fried chicken, romaine, grape tomatoes, watercress and edamame. Still, the shiitake ginger and soy ginger dressings, both recommended for the Wasabi Salad, were great additions. Unexpected yum!
Then there’s the smoothies. I was excited to try the smoothies, but they, too, fell flat. Customers have their choice of juice and two fruits to accompany yogurt and (lots of) ice. While the selection of fruit was fairly impressive (everything from mango to pineapple to strawberries), the quality was somehow a downgrade from the deliciously sweet fruits in the Summertime Salad.
At first I thought it was the yogurt, but even without it, the smoothie was bland! Due to the lack of any sweeteners or taste, however, the bare simplicity of The Little Salad Shop’s formula at least reminds you that what you’re drinking is healthy. (Because it is, right?)
Overall, the Little Salad Shop brings to New Haven an easy access place to get your money’s worth of healthy, but not necessarily amazing food.