Today is Colleen’s birthday, so happy birthday Colleen!
I hope it is as magical as you want it to be!
On the health spectrum, this post is about a food item that couldn’t be more on the opposite end of the “healthy eating” spectrum than a tenderloin if it tried. Not that a tenderloin is the most unhealthy thing you can eat. That is probably cheesy fries. But it is no secret that any fried food is unhealthy. Delicious, but unhealthy.
Now a salad? They are usually pretty healthy. Unless you add unhealthy elements to it, like fried chicken. And then coat it with ranch or Caesar dressing. Or any salad dressing with the word “creamy” in it. However, I think we can all agree that ranch dressing does not belong on salad. It only belongs as a dipping sauce for things like onion rings and fried mushrooms and fried cheese and buffalo wings. Caesar salad doesn’t belong anywhere.
Ames recently had a new salad restaurant open. It is extremely unique. It is drive-thru only. Why? Because they grow all the greens inside the building.
This is what their website (https://www.claytonfarms.com/salads) says:
Welcome to Clayton Farms Salads, a drive-thru restaurant that is all about fresh, healthy, and smart eating. Our greens are grown onsite, ensuring that our salads and smoothies are the freshest in the world. Whether you’re on the go or simply looking for a quick and nutritious meal, we’ve got you covered with our delicious menu options. From bright and colorful salads, to refreshing and energizing smoothies, we’ve got everything you need, to fuel your day the healthiest way. So why wait? Swing through our drive-thru to taste the difference yourself, or to order delivery!
I think it is a brilliant idea! If you can keep up with demand. Despite that, I have a couple friends who loaded up their haterade with extra hate just to make sure they had enough hate for this restaurant. They are actively rooting against Clayton Farms Salads being successful. One has gone so far as to proclaim:
October of 2024, gentlemen. Mark me. “Salad Dreams” or whatever its called will have shuttered by then.
I have marked it on the calendar Jay.
They started with 4 salads and recently added a 5th salad:
+ Garden Salad
+ Caesar Salad
+ Crunch Asian Salad
+ Southwest Salad
+ Mediterranean Salad
To cut to the chase, it is the best salad(s) I’ve ever had in my life. The freshness of the greens is incredible and it makes a huge difference in the taste. I put the experience like this… it must be what it would be like to not be from Iowa, visit Iowa and then stop at a Peaches and Cream corn stand. Pick up some corn and go home and cook it. For them, it would be like eating corn for the first time in their life.
I’m not trying too hard to rely on Plato’s ALLEGORY OF THE CAVE for this example.
So let me put it another way. It is like the difference between cooking with produce you purchased at a big chain grocery store vs with ingredients you bought at a farmer’s market. If you know anybody that works in a grocery store warehouse, ask them about the room they use to ripen bananas. It will blow your mind.
Or one last example…
It was like the first time I got a watermelon in Muscatine County in the height of watermelon season.
That is what my first salad at Clayton Farms Salads was like. It was like I had never had a salad before. (By looking at me, it is possible you think that I’ve never had a salad in my life, but I love vegetables. I also love a good order of cheesy fries too.)
Here are some pictures of my Clayton Farms Salads experiences:
I’d rank the salads like this:
1. Garden Salad – romaine, sunflower microgreens, red onions, green onions, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, pistachios. and lemony herb dressing.
2. Crunch Asian Salad – romaine, pea microgreens, purple cabbage, edanmae, carrots, green onions, red bell peppers, mandarin oranges, sliced almonds, crunchy chow mein noodles, toasted sesame ginger vinaigrette.
3. Mediterranean Salad – butterhead/arugula, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, feta cheese, garbanzo beans, red bell peppers, red onions, sliced almonds, lemony herb dressing.
4. Caesar Salad – romaine, broccoli microgreens, cucumber, parmesan cheese, croutons, lemony Caesar dressing.
5. Southwest Salad – butterhead, radish microgreens, orange & yellow bell pepper, black beans, red onion, sweet corn, cherry tomatoes, butternut squash, avocado, pepitas, cilantro, chili limon dressing.
I’m not going to lie, when you add protein to the salad, it isn’t cheap. Each salad runs almost or over $15 after you add chicken. A dollar more if you add steak. At this point, I consider a meal that is under $15 as affordable. If I get a meal for less than $10, I alert the media.
The ultimate verdict is, would I pursue this meal? Yes I would. In fact, since I’m currently working in Ames 5 days a week, I pretty much eat here once a week.
You can find Clayton Farms Salads here:
2435 Grand Avenue
They are open Monday through Saturday from 10 AM to 8 PM.
The next food adventure will be a road trip double dip.