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Archive for Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Simplicity

New restaurant banks on theory that salads are only as good as the sum of their fresh, well-chosen parts

At Ingredient, a new restaurant located at 10th and Mass., fresh fruit, vegetables, nuts and cheese are combined to make fresh, tasty salads.

At Ingredient, a new restaurant located at 10th and Mass., fresh fruit, vegetables, nuts and cheese are combined to make fresh, tasty salads.

July 18, 2007

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Steve Kerner figures customers won't get tired of his new restaurant, Ingredient. "You can eat here an infinite number of times," he says, "and never eat the same thing twice."

Samon Flats Salad, background, and the Cripsy Asian Salad, foreground.

Samon Flats Salad, background, and the Cripsy Asian Salad, foreground.

That's because the centerpieces of his month-old restaurant at 947 Mass. are personalized salads. Diners can choose from 55 ingredients and 13 dressings.

With each salad coming with five ingredients for $7.50 - or additional ingredients for 75 cents each - customers have some difficult choices when it comes to pairing their foods.

Kerner's restaurant, which also sells pizzas and sandwiches, divides the 55 ingredients into seven categories: greens, vegetables, fruits, cheeses, meats/eggs/beans, crunchy toppings and pastas.

"We want people to think about it," Kerner says. "So far, it's really good."

Steve Kerner, co-owner of Ingredient, prepares a Crispy Asian Salad on Friday at the new restaurant located at 10th and Mass.

Steve Kerner, co-owner of Ingredient, prepares a Crispy Asian Salad on Friday at the new restaurant located at 10th and Mass.

Basic rules

There's no right or wrong answer when it comes to making a salad, but Kerner follows some simple rules.

Ingredient

Steve Kerner, co-owner of Ingredient, explains how to make a custom salad. Enlarge video

First, there should be variety in colors. A salad with all dark ingredients, for instance, might not be as appealing as one with a spectrum.

"It should be more vibrant," Kerner says.

Then there are textures. That's why Kerner has an entire category devoted to crunchy foods, such as nuts, croutons and tortilla chips.

Another consideration is flavors. Kerner suggests avoiding too many dominant flavors.

"If you have a bunch of fruits," he says, "a chipotle dressing might not be as good. Especially in the summer, fruits and nuts are good ingredients, and you can have them with the fruitier vinaigrettes."

Be adventurous

Another consideration for making salads, of course, is to cover your basic food groups.

Nancy O'Connor, director of education and outreach for the Community Mercantile, 901 Iowa, suggests the fundamental building blocks of proteins, fats and carbohydrates.

"That will help making a salad that is satisfying and enough to be a meal," she says.

O'Connor says anyone can make a salad using lettuce and cover it with ranch dressing. But she says nearly any ingredient can help make for a good salad.

Some of her favorites include dried fruits, fresh fruits such as mangoes and peaches, and feta cheese.

Others available at Ingredient include roasted mushrooms, balsamic glazed onions and honey-ginger carrots.

"It's fine to have raw vegetables," O'Connor says, "but if you take the time to roast them, the salad tastes deeper and richer."

O'Connor agrees that not all flavors go together, though.

"With salad bars, people got used to dumping everything on salads, and it's just that - a mishmash of tastes," she says. "It should be tasty and interesting, and not have so many ingredients that it's just a glop of flavor with creamy salad dressing. You should be able to pick out individual tastes and savor them."

O'Connor says heavy dressings often mask the flavor of salad ingredients, especially flavorful greens such as arugula.

Recipe for success

Kerner, a native of Chicago who has lived in Overland Park since 1993, has a variety of experience in the restaurant industry, including time with 75th Street Brewery and Mosaic Bistro in the Kansas City area.

He's long wanted to start a restaurant where, as he puts it, "the main focus is on fresh, good ingredients at a moderate price that makes it approachable."

For now, all of his ingredients are provided by distributors. He'd eventually like to purchase some from local and regional farmers to have special ingredients - such as heirloom tomatoes - on certain days.

So far, the restaurant has been popular. Kerner thinks the concept will work well in Lawrence.

"I call it gourmet fresh casual," he says.

Comments

commonsense 6 years, 9 months ago

4 for 4 and my new favorite place. The only thing I can't recommend is the soup and 1/2 sandwich because it isn't filling enough. Salad, pizza, sandwich are all good, so mix it up.

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hawkperchedatriverfront 6 years, 9 months ago

Miss the salad bar that was a few doors down some years ago and the potato place. They come and they go. Not too much to get excited about. They last as long as the lease lasts or until the family trust fund gives out.

have a spinach and tofu on me.

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Mkh 6 years, 9 months ago

I just ate there yesterday for the first time and already want to go back. Delicious pizza and salad.

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person184 6 years, 9 months ago

I really liked it and want to go again soon! The owner was friendly and gave good suggestions. I had the Asian Salad with salmon...yummy.

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ilovelucy 6 years, 9 months ago

The only time I've eaten there, I bought a salad to go and they left off the main ingredient--the chicken! Pretty expensive greens-
The greens were excellent and the dressing good but I was not impressed with the organization. Hopefully, it has improved by now. They had around 11 people working in there that day and it took me 20 minutes to get my order. People were falling over each other. I do plan to give it another shot, however.

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Richard Heckler 6 years, 9 months ago

Yes the salads are large and tasty because you decide the ingredients. When the price through conversation hit me I thought what the heck. Monday evening about 8:30 i dropped by and was pleased. Tuesday I dropped by again.....yep you guessed it pleased again. Good Service as well.

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Centrist 6 years, 9 months ago

I'm not gonna like it either, and I tote no guns or bibles ...

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machiavelli 6 years, 9 months ago

I doubt that the god fearin' and gun totin' crowd is going to like this restaurant.

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JoRight 6 years, 9 months ago

The salad I had was fresh, good, and very filling. . .I'd equate it to eating like 3/4 of a chipotle burrito (b/c if I finish one of those things, I'm pretty much worthless for an hour or so). My only complaint was if you do catch them at a busy time it does take awhile. So, say a line of 15-20 people takes about 15-20min or more to go down, then takes another 10-15min to get your salad. I think it had to do w/ them having to punch in every ingredient into the register, hopefully they can / have streamlined this process.

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monkfellow 6 years, 9 months ago

I concur on Mixx, which is right next to the Plaza library branch in Kansas City. it IS pricey, it IS disorganized at times, but it is worth the effort. I like ZenZero,and I await the chance to visit this new place!

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walkdog262 6 years, 9 months ago

Can anyone tell me what used to be at this location? I'm trying to think what place went out of business or if it was a vacant building ... just wondering.

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Jaminrawk 6 years, 9 months ago

I had a sandwich and soup there. It was very good. It reminded me of a couple of Europen Bistros I have visited.

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greyheim 6 years, 9 months ago

the salads are pretty big. i've eaten there - i can't remember the exact name, but the sandwich had salmon, spinach, and a maple vinegrette. around $9, but WELL worth it!!! if you have a couple extra bucks, i'd recommend trying it out, you'll thank yourself!

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drewfuss 6 years, 9 months ago

There's a similar restaurant called the Mixx (based on the article, at least--I haven't been to Ingredient) just off the plaza in KC. Yes, its kinda pricey, but if the quality matches the price, then so be it. Not every restaurant needs to be sub five dollar, student fare!

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Linda Endicott 6 years, 9 months ago

$7.50 for a salad?? How big are they?

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unklemonkey 6 years, 9 months ago

I've eaten there several times already. It's excellent.

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