Espresso Yourself Cafe, winner of 2011 Pennsyltucky Veggie Best Menu and Best Soup awards, takes Pennsyltucky Veggie 2012 Best Salad. The Newport, PA restaurant has so many great things for vegetarians to eat, it is hard to not choose something that is award winning.
Espresso Yourself Cafe’s – Japanese Salad is fresh and super crispy with thick shreds of purple and green cabbage slaw. Topped with sliced Tofurky, organic carrots and cucumbers makes it a nice balance of flavors and textures. It is the sliced almonds and sesame seeds covered with their homemade Asian Rice Wine Vinaigrette that brings this salad to the top of all we tasted this year. Crunchy, tangy and savory bites all come together in a big bowl that I wish was bottomless.
Salads have come a long way in the past 30 years. It’s not just the salad bars (which are not being judged for this award) that have added established choices of field greens as well as romaine or iceberg lettuce. Most restaurants outside of diners know that they need to have a base of decent greens under the veggie toppings and a huge portion of dressing won’t dress up any sub-par salad. Arugula, kale or mixed herbs; content is vital. Otto’s Pub and Brewery is splitting and grilling a head of romaine lettuce as a very nice salad base this season.Chefs have gotten a lot more creative with their toppings too. I think back on the days when I considered myself lucky to at least be served a couple of slices of pale refrigerated tomato and white rings of onion topped on a huge bowl of crunchy white lettuce. Along with the change in greens are the quality of local ingredients many restaurants are making great use of. Fiddlehead has so many scrumptious local veggies to choose from for their Own It salad and Elk Creek Cafe and Aleworks is known for their creative use of local produce on their salad specials.
A close second, Spats Cafe and Speakeasy’s Creole Chopped Salad was the Pennsyltucky Veggie 2011- Best Salad. The entrée sized salad always comes out super chilled, includes cheese, lettuce and a sweet creamy dressing. There is nothing else like it anywhere in the area and they are happy to make it vegan by asking them to omit the cheese and it is still a wonderful range of textures, veggies and flavors.
Perry County must be very proud of its special and award winning café; Espresso Yourself Cafe is a restaurant that everyone in central Pennsylvania should be stopping at as often as possible. Congratulations to Espresso Yourself Cafe for their Japanese Salad beating out so many other diverse salads in this region and being chosen to receive Pennsyltucky Veggie 2012 Best Salad.
Do know of a Pennsyltucky restaurant whose salad can beat this one in 2013? If it’s in central PA (see map here) and is a regular vegetarian menu item, let me know and I will include it in the judging next year! Drop me, Pennsyltucky Veggie, a line or feel free to leave a comment!