City’s salad bar makes eating greens fun

The restaurant, which has actor Shraddha Srinath as one of the partners, is making salads interesting with unique dressings like cashew cream, peanut butter and paprika.
City’s salad bar makes eating greens fun

Chennai

Mankind has been consuming salads with dressings for at least 2,000 years now, with some of the earliest made salads recorded in the households of the Romans, ancient Greeks and Persians. Many of the salads we consume in the current day use the same recipes as when they were first created. For instance, restaurateur Caesar Cardini’s recipe of Caesar salad first created in 1924 used romaine lettuce, garlic, croutons, parmesan cheese, boiled eggs, olive oil and Worcestershire sauce. The exact recipe is followed till date, except for the anchovies and mustard that also find place in the present day’s version.

Chennai’s newest salad bar, Per Se, is attempting to reinvent salads and making eating greens more fun. Helmed by chef and restaurateur Mathangi Kumar, the restaurant also has actor Shraddha Srinath as an investor-partner, along with David Aswathaman, coffee connoisseur Viggnesh V (who also curated a coffee menu at the restaurant), engineer-turned-hydroponics-farmer Akhil Nichani (who brings fresh hydroponic greens for the salads), among a few others. “Opening up a salad bar has been one of the things I’ve wanted to do from over seven years, much before I started working on the other restaurants. Most of us in the current times are moving towards eating greens. At Per Se, located inside Club Crest in Velachery, the greens are sourced hydroponically, which makes them fresher and not as bitter as they grow in a temperature-controlled environment. Instead of just having the usual iceberg lettuce, we are offering a mix of greens like baby spinach, arugula, romaine, butterhead lettuce and also kale. We also wanted to stay away from the common mayo-based dressings as they tend to get heavier and greasy,” says Mathangi, who also is also the chef-partner at That Madras Place, The Summer House Eatery and Patina.

A diner can pick the kinds of greens he or she wishes to, have them chopped fresh, and then tossed with a variety of cooked, pickled and fresh veggies. There’s a choice of mixed veggies cooked with herbs, cumin spiced carrots, mixed fajita peppers and charred corn kernels. One can choose from dressings like peanut butter and sweet paprika, cashew and sriracha, orange/lime/balsamic vinaigrette, and a spicy dynamite sauce. The toppings of crispy garlic, fried noodles, mixed nuts with cranberries, garlic croutons, candied walnuts and handmade tortilla chips make the salads more exciting with crunch. “The idea is to keep the salads interesting, which otherwise can get boring after a few bites. The crunchy elements, a mix of greens and different styles of vegetables help in keeping in the salads fun” elaborates Mathangi. Besides salads, there are also veggie and protein-loaded sandwiches and wraps. For the calorie-conscious, each of the salad dressings also come with their calorie count, for a healthy post-workout meal.

The restaurant is also Shraddha’s first entrepreneurial venture. “One of the partners, David, has been a friend. I got interested in being part of it once I got to know there was an opportunity. I think there is a dearth of healthy eating places around. A lot of times, I have to say no to socialising because I don’t want to eat unhealthy or choose from run-of-the-mill salads. So, the journey of turning into a food entrepreneur is a little like my entry into films — I wanted to give it a shot and see how it works out. We are also looking to expand depending on the response,” she remarks.

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