Salad Days

Back when I was in college, back when the transportation of choice was the covered wagon, I aspired to afford the salad bar at Fritz That’s It. What’s that, you say? It used to be a well-loved restaurant in Evanston, Illinois—part of the Lettuce Entertain You chain of restaurants. Alas, it closed in 1987. Click here and here for more information on the restaurant. Today, that name is associated with another establishment.

A menu from 1973 (I was not in college at this point, in case you were wondering.)

When I was a student, I was always broke. So I shared restaurant menu items with my friends, who were equally broke. As the articles I linked to above will tell you, Fritz was known for its extensive salad bar. It even had caviar and pâté! But the salad bar was an extra cost.

A well-stocked salad bar was the hallmark of Lettuce Entertain You restaurants. Rich Melman, the founder of Lettuce Entertain You, talked about the salad bar at RJ Grunts  (the first restaurant he opened) in this post at Foodandwine.com:

Instead of just iceberg and a few toppings, I would say we started with about 30 choices, maybe more, and it just kept growing and growing.

I loved having so many choices. Those were indeed salad days! But years later, many restaurants scaled back on the salad bars. Even Wendy’s pulled the plug on them back in 2006.

Yet salad bars live on at some restaurants (like buffets) and many grocery store chains. The grocery stores in my area have salad bars with multiple options (including soup) and charge for the salads by weight. (The photo below was not taken at a grocery store in my area, in case you wondered.)

The element of choice is one many people treasure, not just in a salad bar but in other areas in life. I love going to a craft store and seeing aisle after aisle of colorful skeins of yarn of all different textures in which to choose. Many of us love to binge watch seasons of shows on Netflix because we have multiple episodes from which to choose. (Unless the show is uploaded once a week like The Great British Baking Show is this season. Sigh.) And many make purchases on Amazon because of its staggering variety of items.

Another area of choice I love involves authors with multiple books just waiting to be discovered. Many, like Jill Weatherholt, John Howell, and Charles Yallowitz, have been featured on this blog. (To discover where to purchase any of these books, just click on the cover.)

   

What authors have you discovered recently, who have multiple books just waiting to be read?

Have you visited a salad bar recently? What do you like about it?

Kitty thinks her giant veggies will net her a fortune at salad bars across the nation. But I doubt that, since most edible vegetables don’t have faces.

Fritz menu from worthpoint.com. Salad bar image from Rochebros.com. Salad items from clkr.com. Kawaii veggies from etsystudio.com. Other photo by L. Marie.

43 thoughts on “Salad Days

  1. What a great name for a restaurant! Before I got sick with Crohn’s Disease, I loved salad bars…these days, I have to stay clear of the possible germs. 🙂 Thanks for spotlighting my book, L. Marie…what a nice surprise!

    • You’re welcome! Always glad to feature your books, Jill. 😀
      Yes, we loved Fritz back in the day. The whole restaurant group had great names. I miss that restaurant.

  2. In my first job there was a fabulous subsidised works canteen (whatever happened to them?) which had an amazing salad bar. I don’t think I’ve ever eaten as healthily since! In terms of authors, I guess Toni Morrison and William McIlvanney are my two most recent “finds” – oh, and Robert Harris. It’s great to love a book and know there are plenty more to explore. 😀

    • Great picks! I’ve enjoyed your reviews on your finds, FF! 😀 And I’m steering clear of those whose series devolved. I can’t help recalling a one-star review you gave. 😀

  3. Great analogy. I know there are still Chinese buffets all over the place. Can’t think of any restaurants around here with salad bars. My college had that kind of set up though. I wonder if many places stopped because of hygiene. A local grocery store with a make-a-meal area is always stopping people from just plunging their hands into the food.

  4. When I think of salad days I hear the theme from Frasier in my head: “I hear the blues a’coming, Tossed salads and scrambled eggs…” 🎶 Of course that’s not your point, but I’m sharing here. In the same way that you’re sharing these great authors with us. Always something new to add to the salad plate

    • I love that you thought of such a great theme song, Ally. 😀 Such a great show!

      I’m always glad to feature great authors. 😀 (Now the Frasier theme song is in my head.)

  5. There are a few places around here with Salad Bars ~> Fire & Stone Pizza has a salad, soup, and pizza bar with about 10 pizzas to choose from. And they’ll make your fave if you ask. 😀

    As a kid I liked to customize my food, so I would invite friends over for make your own sub and make your own sundae nights.

    • Ooo! Love the idea of a sub and sundae night, Nancy! How cool that you hosted those.
      I also thought of pizza places. Back in the day, the Pizza Hut near my job had a salad bar. 😀

  6. I don’t know why many places got rid of salad bars. Could it be because of germs? I used to like Ruby Tuesday’s salad bar. Have you ever tried Sweet Tomatoes? We had them all over in Florida, but there is only one in the burbs here that I know of. They don’t serve any meat, although sometimes they have cooked cold, shredded chicken to put on top of a salad. Their salad bar is long, plus they have a soup bar, a pasta bar and a bakery bar for dessert.

    Healthy foods are all the rage, so I don’t know why there aren’t more salad bars.

    • I used to love Sweet Tomatoes, which is Souplantation in California. Sooo good. I thought of it but forgot to mention it. I’m not sure if it’s still open or not. Used to go there for occasional lunches.

      I guess the germ factor is what put so many restaurants off.

  7. Salad bars aren’t as popular as they used to be because it’s really hard to keep the food safe when a bunch of people stand over it and handle the utensils for a long period of time. In my area, the Health Department cracked down on a lot of the all-you-can-eat buffets too.

    • I see why they would, Lyn, especially for the reason Charles brought up in his comment. Also, I’ve seen incidents at buffets that put me off going to them for a while.

  8. Great post! The author I’ve re-discovered lately that has plenty of works to keep me filled to the brim is:
    Alexander McCall Smith. I’m on #5 of his ‘The #1 Ladies’ Detective Agency’ series and there’s other series he has written that are yet to be mined. The other is an old standby – Agatha Christie.
    😉

    • Thank you, Laura! 😀 Yay! I thought of Agatha Christie when I asked the question. Though I’ve read most of her books, I still return to them every now and then, because they are so entertaining! And Alexander McCall Smith is so good! And so prolific!

  9. If I hadn’t eaten lunch recently, your post would make me hungry. I LOVE salads + they are so nutritious.

    To answer your question, I have read multiple books from Jill Weatherholt, but now I’m reading The Keys to Fanny by novelist Sally Wahl Constain. I think this is her debut novel, and I’m reading it because I want to support an emerging writer. (She also gave me a complimentary copy when she attended my book signing in September!)

    P.S. I, like Laura, also find Alexander McCall Smith entertaining when I read to simply relax.

    • Hi, Marian! I’m so glad you had a wonderful book tour! I’ll be waiting for your second book, so I can add you to the multiple book author list. 😀

      I love a good salad. A woman at church made the best salad I have ever eaten in my life. She put so many ingredients in it–sweet, savory, crunchy. And she used two different salad dressings. Sooo good.

  10. Well done Linda for (once again) showcasing your writer friends’ books.
    Multiple book author I’ve just returned to is Bernard Cornwell, eleven books in on his series about Uhtred (the Last Kingdom tv series). I’m thinking of re-Reading his Warlord trilogy, about Arthur. I remember loving those.

    • Awww! 😀 I need to read that Warlord series, Andy. I just looked it up on Amazon. Looks fantastic. I also think of the delightful Terry Pratchett whose Discworld series is one of my all-time favorites.

  11. Loved this post, reminder of those salad days, the authors you feature – all of it. Well done and fun, L. Marie.
    I made the grave mistake of stopping by the sale bar at my local Mariano’s one afternoon, which is actually pretty good, BUT, it seems it is now the afternoon hangout for the local high school which is about a block away. 🙂 As I couldn’t cut in, I stood and watched. The kids were actually pretty good, no sampling with hands, sneezing or coughing or worse. Gone, long gone, are the days of kids going to the local drive-in.
    Tom and I attended several of the Lettuce Entertain You purveyor nights back in the day. My Uncle Joe, aka Joe the Pickle Man, was the pickle purveyor and was always invited and told to bring guests. What fun those days were.

    • So glad you enjoyed it, Penny! I miss the days of going to those restaurants. How cool that your uncle was involved in providing produce for the restaurants! Good times! 😀

      I can understand the teens hanging out at Marianos. The one in Wheaton is definitely the hangout place. They have so many food choices, including the BBQ section.

      I know what you mean about the drive-in. They closed the one on North Avenue. Sigh. The end of an era.

  12. We Americans take it for granted that everyone likes choices. That’s why I was surprised when my daughter told me about an experience she had. The year the Soviet Union fell, she was working for the Archbishop of Anchorage when a Soviet girls choir visited. She took them to a mall, and instead of enjoying it, they just sat down and cried. She asked what was wrong, and they said there were too many choices. They couldn’t handle it. It was upsetting.

    When I was in college, The House of Pancakes was new, and there was one just walking distance from Seattle University. So many pancakes and toppings! I loved it. Another buffet from my college years that comes to mind is King Oscar’s Smorgasbord. It served all kinds of Scandinavian dishes I’d never had. Quite a treat.

    • Fabulous point, Nicki. 😀 Having too many choices can be upsetting. My students in China had a similar reaction to the discussion of American stores.

      I usually feel overwhelmed when I go to The Cheesecake Factory. So. Many. Choices. But good choices nevertheless. 😀

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