What’s new at Chopt, the very popular counter-service salad place at Park Road Shopping Center?
You have to check in every couple of months to find out. The owners tackle different parts of the world and add a new theme every two months. Coming up Monday until May 7: The Pacific Northwest. Expect things like tamarind, Red Boat fish sauce (an America’s Test Kitchen favorite, which they like as “intensely rich and flavorful”), bee pollen and smoked wild sockeye salmon.
On Thursday night, event coordinator Corri Smith of Black Wednesday set up a quick salad tasting for “taste influencers” (meaning lots of young Charlotte blogging types) and we somehow got invited along.
Words like “meta” and business cards were swapped. Selfie lights were ooohed over. And the word “strategically” was invoked repeatedly in career descriptions. (New drinking game!)
Chopt doesn’t serve beer, but Smith made sure there were a couple of tubs of Pacific Northwest beers, sort of the bee pollen of the young blogging set. (Strategically! Drink!)
So how is Chopt using all those new influences? Strategically (drink!), in three new salads: Beekeeper’s Quinoa Bowl, with kale, broccoleaf and purple cabbage, chunks of Tillamook cheddar, rainbow cauliflower and tri-color quinoa in a wildflower honey Dijon dressing sprinkled with bee pollen, and a Wild Smokehouse Salmon plate with arugula, a dill caraway dressing and a quinoa, lentil and millet blend.
My favorite: The Crunchy Vietnamese Salad, with grilled chicken, pickled sweet onions, rainbow carrots, romaine, kale and purple cabbage, topped with spicy tamarind vinaigrette and sprinkled with crispy bits of broken-up rice crackers, sort of like puffed rice cereal.
Best quote of the night? From Nikke Wolfe of Yelp Charlotte: “Beer and salad? This is like the best thing ever.”
Strategically put. Drink!