An opening act with variety

By Eleni Upah

The appetizer is the epitome of the phrase “eyes too big for the stomach.” Thinking about small dishes to order while waiting for the main course, it always seems like a good idea to get one of everything — because when you make the effort to dine out, you want to try as many different items as possible.

But then the meal comes, and you realize you’ve used up all your stomach space on the first course.

With dozens of different homemade salads of the sweet, salty and pickled varieties, Chicago Speakeasy isn’t your average salad bar.

With dozens of different homemade salads of the sweet, salty and pickled varieties, Chicago Speakeasy isn’t your average salad bar.

The salad bar, however, is the best of both worlds. It offers a light, mostly healthy plate and a seemingly endless variety of toppings, dressings and extras. Most salad bars even come with a variety of salads, from lettuce or spinach to macaroni or fruit.

With salad, each person is in control of his or her plate. If you like carrots, cheese, peas, eggs and three different kinds of dressing mixed together, you can have that. If you like a few pieces of lettuce with several scoops of croutons and bacon bits, you can do that, too. The combinations are endless, and being a buffet style, you can try as many as you like.

Des Moines’ Chicago Speakeasy knows how to make a salad bar suitable to everyone. It doesn’t stop with lettuce, cheese and ranch dressing. It’s home to a long list — 40 items, to be exact — of house-made salads ranging from sweet (Oreo, apple and pina colada) to savory mixes (crab, black-eyed pea, and veggie cottage cheese).

“We use fresh local ingredients when in season,” said Julie Moore, owner of Chicago Speakeasy. “We listen to our customers’ wants.”

Speakeasy also offers a range of specialty options you’re not likely to find at any buffet, including the carrot apple salad and the mostaccioli. Customers will also find pickled herring and a five cup salad made with marshmallows.

“A salad bar of this caliber offers customers a variety of options they can’t get otherwise,” Moore said. “We employ two full-time employees that are responsible for making all salads, setting up the salad bar, (which) takes three hours to set up.”

The salad bar is a special addition to any restaurant, giving the customers the opportunity for some independence and creativity in their meal choice. RELISH

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Categories: The Appetizer

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