Written by on July 6, 2011 in I Eat America, I Eat...Out with 0 Comments

(sweetgreen.com) – Ballston neighborhood, Arlington, Virginia

How I heard of this place: The first time I heard of Sweetgreen, I was in a car and we drove past it. Seeing it a second time, I walked by and was intrigued by the recycled look of the place. The third time, my friend Seraj had posted a note on Facebook that he likedSweetgreen. And this time, we made it in!  

Type of cuisine: “Sweetgreen is a place where you can get fun, fashionable food that’s both healthy for you and aligned with your values. Simply stated…food that fits.” Local, organic ingredients are sourced through farmers that are known, leaving a gentle footprint to protect the planet. All the proteins served are hormone- and antibiotic-free and all-natural. They serve salads, wraps and frozen yogurt, made to order, fresh and flavorful.

Ambiance: The owners, “Nicolas Jammet, Jonathan Neman, and Nathaniel Ru, three like-minded Georgetown students and food lovers, spent their undergraduate years living in a neighborhood with limited food options. After three years of asking each other “Where should we go eat?”, they started to instead ask themselves, “Why not create a place that we would want to eat at on a daily basis?” The result: an idea for a simple, healthy, fast-casual oasis with a focus on high-quality ingredients. In 2007, Sweetgreen was born.” That is exactly what Sweetgreen offers, a casual space, open, light and simple, where dozens of patrons enjoy a meal in or one to take away. (All to-go containers are 100% plant-based compostable non derived from oil!) The clean lines of the space are also environmentally friendly, made of reclaimed and FSC-certified materials are used in the construction. Energy efficient LED and Fluorescent lighting are used in stores, while 100% of their energy is offset with wind energy credits; some stores even have solar panels on the roof! Furniture, simply constructed, reclaimed wood tables and stools may actually be from old bowling alleys! The sparsely decorated walls, with framed posters of the May 1, 2011 Sweetlife Festival, chalkboards noting menu selections, daily specials and the sources for local foods available, and one, sole painting (using low VOC paint) of a green background with white branches growing like a tree. Walls are lines of wood, the counter, a lighter version, with a large display area for available vegetables, crunch (toppings such as toasted almonds, croutons, bacon) and dressings. At the far left, just beyond the cashier is the fro-yo station, where fresh fruit, nut and chocolate toppings can be found to decorate your high-piled frozen yogurt. Three bins at the exit are clearly labeled for compost, garbage, and recycling. White tiles in the shape of bricks, laid vertically, create the walls in the kitchen, where fresh vegetables and lightly seasoned meats are sauteed and served to customers. Orders are placed in line, at the far right, and staff pass your bowl of goodness down the line to ensure speedy and accurate service. “We value food, lifestyle and community. We believe in serving real food, cultivated by real people that we know, to customers that we care about. We work to live and have fun with friends and family. We don’t believe that you can have a successful business in an unsuccessful community. Balance keeps us aligned. We reject the idea that ethics and business are at odds. We believe we are all put on the planet with the potential to use our talents to make a difference, even if that difference is just a few extra smiles a day on the faces of our friends. No man is an island. We recognize and celebrate our connections. Challenge us. Play with us. Join us… and enjoy your meal.”

What I ordered: On this visit, I selected a Make-Your-Own salad ($6.35 for greens, three veggies, 1 crunch and dressing) with mesclun, halved grape tomatoes, sauteed sliced mushrooms and broccoli sauteed in Saracha (“Rooster”) sauce and a touch of olive oil. I opted out of the “crunch” and was offered an additional vegetable in its stead, where I chose finely diced red onion. For my dressing I combined fresh squeezed lemon juice with a generous drizzle of truffle oil. Two of my dining companions selected the vegan, Persiansalad, Sabzi ($7.50 each) with baby spinach, spicy quinoa, white beans, raw beets, radish, basil, sprouts and dried cranberries, topped with a carrot chili vinaigrette. To increase the protein content, they each added a hard boiled egg and roasted chicken ($1-$3 additional per item). Our final two dining companions selected wraps, on whole wheat tortillas, with their own mixing of vegetables, protein (one with tofu and one with baked falafel). To end our meals, we had one order of organic, plain, tart frozen yogurt (made with Stonyfields yogurt) topped with mini chocolate chips and sliced strawberries ($4 small/$6 large).  


On a return visit, Monday, July 2, 2012: On this long-awaited return, one year later, I was excited to try one of the pre-made salads and selected the Guacamole Greens ($9.50) with mesclun, roasted chicken, avocado, grape tomatoes, red onion, crushed tortilla chips, tossed in a lime cilantro jalapeno vinaigrette & a fresh lime squeeze. One of our dining compaions enjoyed the same with shrimp (add $0.75). My Sweetface selected the

Bondi ($9.50), with mesclun & baby arugula, roasted chicken, avocado, corn, hearts of palm, and wasabi peas tossed in a miso sesame ginger vinaigrette.

What I loved: While I only sampled my own salad (minus the thick slice of whole wheat rustic bread), I was blown away by the delicate yet flavorful truffle oil. The Saracha-sauteed broccoli wins for best recipe and I can’t wait to recreate it at home!

Why I loved it: The food is fresh, simple and made to your specifications. The service is quick, the staff friendly and always room for samples! I especially love their true efforts and sustainability, serving local and organic fare and their environmental consciousness with energy, resources, everything.

Cost: Average ($6-$8 per lunch-sized salad or wrap)

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