Looking for a quick lunch near Yonge and Eg, I was intrigued by the name "Salad Spa" and decided to investigate. Happily, the place had nothing to do with romaine facials or radicchio body wraps.
The place is packed when I enter but the long line-up seems to be moving quickly. I join the line and within a few minutes I'm asked what I'd like. The basic menu is simple: salads, soups and sandwiches. But mainly salads...this place is perfect for those of us who try to eat healthy but get really, really tired of green.
Basic salad options: Small salad for $4.99, large for $5.99. You can choose your own "lettuce base" (romaine, iceburg, spinach, spring mix, mix & match), "throw-ins" (over 40 options including veggies, "crunchies," and different types of cheese). Feta and bocconcini is 50 cents extra. For $1.99 you can add extra protein, like turkey, grilled chicken, roast beef, tuna salad, shrimp, crab, ham or tofu. Then you choose a salad dressing. You can see a full menu on the Salad Spa site .
The girl behind the counter tosses in my ingredients and expertly chops them in bite-sized pieces before sliding them into a serving bowl. Salad Spa's portions are generous; my "small" size salad is bigger than I expected. I also ordered a "All About Mango" soy smoothie for $3.29.
I admit I found the number of choices a tad overwhelming at first, but after eating there a few times I've already found myself gravitating toward core favourite throw-ins like chick peas, mandarin orange, sunflower seeds and cranberries.
Sandwiches/wraps are $4.39 and also involves choices of bread, throw-ins, protein and spreads. Soups are $3.79 for small, $4.59 for large: you choose your broth, throw-ins and protein. You can also opt for fruit salads or yogurt ($2.39 small, $3.69 large) or smoothies ($3.29 non-dairy, $3.79 dairy), also with their own choices.
Something I'd like to see at Salad Spa, especially on days when I just don't feel like all the options: a few "Salad Spa Favourites" with some popular salad combos already chosen. It would be nice to occasionally have the option of just saying something like "I'd like the Nutty Asian Special," for example, instead of "I'd like the spring mix with alfalfa sprouts and red cabbage and radish and corn and chick peas and asparagus and red onion and mandarin orange and sunflower seeds and crispy noodles and almonds and cranberries and cheddar with Asian Miso dressing." Or let regular customers to be able to fill out a checkbox "choose your own salad" form ahead of time (maybe even online?) to print out at work or home to save time.
Salad Spa was started by Jeff Edelstein and his wife Robin four years ago as a healthy option for busy Torontonians. While traveling around the world, Jeff and Robin came across a street vendor who, instead of offering the usual hot dog and other fast food fare, sold health-conscious food as well as letting customers choose from (also healthy) add-on options.
Around this time, Jeff was also diagnosed with high blood sugar and advised to change his eating habits. All these factors plus Robin's culinary talents motivated the couple to start Salad Spa. They decided to charge with flat fees rather than by weight (like some of their competitors) because they felt that "people shouldn't have to guess what their food will cost."
All their dressings are homemade with low-fat ingredients. Fruit at their fruit salad station is fresh-cut daily, and they also offer homemade granola, fat-free yogurts and cottage cheese. Their fresh-baked muffins are made daily on the premises and are not only fat-free, but are sugar-free as well. Jeff also says that their Java Julep (Iced Cappuccino) "rivals anyone's in the business."
Hours: Mon-Fri from 8:30a-9p, Sat&Sun 11a-7p.