Is Sweetgreen’s Zahav Bowl Worth Trading Your Custom Salad Order in For?
Around 12 p.m. today, like Santa or Oprah, the Sweetgreen gods dropped a gift into my lap just in time for lunch: The new Zahav Bowl, the product of a collaboration with Philly chef Michael Solomonov of restaurant favorites like Zahav (duh), Dizengoff, and more.
The bowl, available at Philly’s Sweetgreen locations through May, debuted today, and I’m not going to lie: I wasn’t particularly excited about. Literally every single ingredient in the salad is an item that, when I am at Sweetgreen crafting my custom salad (soooo, just about every day), I scan over and think to myself HARD pass on that.
The ingredients are as follows: shredded kale (which is always a risk because you have to massage it and are they really doing that? Reallllly?); shredded carrots, which remind me of hospital cafeteria salad bars for some reason; hot chickpeas — I love chickpeas, but they are impossible to stab into with a plastic fork, making them a hard-to-love salad ingredient; toasted almonds, which are fine, I guess; turmeric roasted cauliflower, and cooked cauliflower tends to be a very wet vegetable and who wants a soggy salad, you know? The salad also features mint and dill, and I find that herbs can be hit or miss, because sometimes your salad maker tears ‘em up so you get a bit in every bite and sometimes they don’t, which means you get an entire basil plant in one bite. I’ve learned to just say no to herbs. Then there’s chicken and a lemon-dill-tahini dressing paired with Sweetgreen’s hot sauce.
All this to say, when I tell you I was skeptical, I mean it. I am a strictly custom-salad-orders-only kind of person. But it’s also Michael Solomonov’s creation, and dude clearly knows what he’s doing, so I was willing to stray from my tried-and-true custom salad lunch for a day. After all, I was skeptical of broccoli pesto-topped hummus, too, but Dizengoff has changed my mind.
Spoiler: I am now convinced that all of those above ingredients that I thought were bottom of the barrel salad fillers when I woke up this morning are, in fact, not. Thanks to the dill and mint throughout the salad and the dill-filled dressing, every bite is delightfully herby; as our Foobooz editor Alex Tewfix noted, the hot sauce adds a spicy element that you usually don’t find in a bowl of greens; I still say that cauliflower is a wet vegetable BUT the kale can hold its own against the turmeric-loaded concoction (heyyyyy, anti-inflammatory benefits!); and the chickpeas, delicious in the lemony dressing, add a nice texture that’s worth spooning them up for (because there is no stabbing a chickpea with a plastic fork — it just does not work).
My one beef with the salad, which I ate without chicken, is that I didn’t find it to be particularly filling. But had I had it with chicken, it would probably be a different story, so it’s really not the salad’s fault. My point: If you don’t eat meat, I would suggest doubling up on the chickpeas or throwing some quinoa on for added protein.
All in all, I would say you can safely trade in your custom Sweetgreen salad order for the Zahav Bowl and not have any regrets come the last bite. And as someone who has nearly cried while staring at a poor Sweetgreen decision sitting on my desk, I don’t say that lightly. Bonus points: The salad is $9.95, and I don’t know about you but that’s cheaper than my bougie, avocado-filled custom salad ever is. Now go forth and order your salad without fear.
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