need to improve house salad...

Discussion in 'Professional Chefs' started by fryguy, Oct 20, 2012.

  1. fryguy

    fryguy

    Messages:
    195
    Likes Received:
    13
    Exp:
    Sous Chef
    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.... ???
     
  2. kuan

    kuan Moderator Staff Member

    Messages:
    6,825
    Likes Received:
    391
    Exp:
    Retired Chef
    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.  :)  
     
  3. durangojo

    durangojo

    Messages:
    2,171
    Likes Received:
    89
    Exp:
    Professional Chef
    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
     
  4. meezenplaz

    meezenplaz

    Messages:
    1,419
    Likes Received:
    216
    Exp:
    Sous Chef, Event Manager
    Boring and dull looking, or boring and dull tasting?

    Or boring and dull both?
     
  5. fryguy

    fryguy

    Messages:
    195
    Likes Received:
    13
    Exp:
    Sous Chef
    yep you got it....all of the above
     
  6. recky

    recky

    Messages:
    265
    Likes Received:
    28
    Exp:
    Owner/Operator
    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
     
  7. kuan

    kuan Moderator Staff Member

    Messages:
    6,825
    Likes Received:
    391
    Exp:
    Retired Chef
    Believe it or not, there are people out there who think Romaine is "strong tasting."
     
  8. durangojo

    durangojo

    Messages:
    2,171
    Likes Received:
    89
    Exp:
    Professional Chef
    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
     
  9. flipflopgirl

    flipflopgirl

    Messages:
    4,476
    Likes Received:
    417
    Exp:
    Retired Hospitality
    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
     
  10. petemccracken

    petemccracken

    Messages:
    3,401
    Likes Received:
    160
    Exp:
    Professional Chef
    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 /img/vbsmilies/smilies/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.
     
  11. chefross

    chefross

    Messages:
    2,780
    Likes Received:
    418
    Exp:
    Former Chef
    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. 
     
  12. chefedb

    chefedb

    Messages:
    5,516
    Likes Received:
    177
    Exp:
    Retired Chef
    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.
     
  13. durangojo

    durangojo

    Messages:
    2,171
    Likes Received:
    89
    Exp:
    Professional Chef
    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 /img/vbsmilies/smilies/wink.gif
     
  14. phatch

    phatch Moderator Staff Member

    Messages:
    8,641
    Likes Received:
    554
    Exp:
    I Just Like Food
    I like frisee but raw radicchio is still too bitter for my taste.
     
  15. durangojo

    durangojo

    Messages:
    2,171
    Likes Received:
    89
    Exp:
    Professional Chef
    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
     
  16. phatch

    phatch Moderator Staff Member

    Messages:
    8,641
    Likes Received:
    554
    Exp:
    I Just Like Food
    Yeah, I like it cooked.
     
  17. ummwaterstock

    ummwaterstock

    Messages:
    16
    Likes Received:
    10
    Exp:
    Sous Chef
    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.
     
  18. durangojo

    durangojo

    Messages:
    2,171
    Likes Received:
    89
    Exp:
    Professional Chef
    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
     
  19. thomas rhee

    thomas rhee

    Messages:
    15
    Likes Received:
    10
    Exp:
    Professional Chef
    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.
     
  20. flipflopgirl

    flipflopgirl

    Messages:
    4,476
    Likes Received:
    417
    Exp:
    Retired Hospitality
    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