What would you expect from a $13.50 salad?
To tell you the truth, I’ve been undecided whether or not to write up this food post. On one hand, I don’t like reviewing places which you wouldn’t recommend to others. While on the other hand, I had vowed to keep a journal of every place we ate at, one bite at a time…….. So here goes (if anything, I’ve been told I’ll hopefully become a better writer, just as long as I keep writing more).
So ‘The Gardens’ is a small health food/salad store on the Northeast corner of World Square, it faces onto Liverpool Street so it’s super easy to swing by and grab some lunch (and they turn around their orders quickly).
From their Salad menu, you have 7 options (3 chicken, 2 beef, 1 lamb, and 1 veg **But not vegan). Or alternatively you can make your own salad, omelette, or there is a selection of sandwiches. For us we elected the Pulled Lamb Shoulder Salad ($13.50) and Sizzling Thai Beef Salad ($13.50). We chose take-away (although we would of liked to dine in, so we could properly experience/evaluate the ambiance and service), but for an extra $4.50 to eat there!? It didn’t make much financial sense, perhaps the portions might be more? But now we’re talking about an $18 salad here! Besides, all of the seating were outdoors, tables and chairs lined up against one wall of the corridor which leads from the street in to the World Square complex.
So after a 5 minute wait at most, we had our containers and we took them home to have (walking distance, not a very long trip where the fresh veg could wilt).
Look, the portioning wasn’t bad, it wasn’t large and it wasn’t miserly either. According to the menu, my Lamb salad was slow cooked pulled lamb shoulder (there were a generous amount, but it was lacking flavour, and at times it was dry and tasteless, reminded me of eating plain/dry canned tuna), chickpeas, cherry tomatoes, Danish feta, mixed greens with a yoghurt and mint dressing, and fresh basil vinaigrette dressing. In the end it had all those elements, but the greens were a bit limp, soggy from all of the dressing. And the strongest flavour was the saltiness of the feta.
I tried a piece of my wife’s Thai beef, she had pre-warned me that it was on the chewy/overcooked side. And she wasn’t exaggerating, it had some Thai flavours to it, but what I mainly remember was the effort required to chew it (menu reads as follows: Sizzling eye fillet, vermicelli, celery, carrot, baby spinach, cherry tomato, bean sprouts, cashew nuts, red capsicum, and low fat Thai dressing).
All in all, the menu reads well. For those who are health conscious, words like organic, grass fed, low fat, and free range are all the words you want to hear. And for the foodies who were hoping for a tasty healthy meal, words like sizzling chicken/eye fillet, or char-grilled chicken breast/beef, or slow cooked pulled lamb shoulder, they were all promising and suggested something special.
But on delivery, the food was all a little bit…unremarkable? And you can’t really tell if the ingredients and cooking methods were everything that had been promised. It was filling enough but towards the end I was thinking ‘Do I actually want more of this, even if there was more to be had?’ And I think it’s telling, as my answer would have unfortunately been ‘No thanks’. I’m glad we didn’t dine in, as I’m sure I’d be more annoyed now if we had paid $18 for this.
So our score is 2.5 from 5, not recommendable and we won’t be back (1.5 from 3 for food; 0.5 from 0.5 for service (what little interaction we had, it was polite and positive); 0.5 from 0.5 for atmosphere (when we were waiting, they had some music playing); and 0 from 1 for value for money (it’s just too expensive for salad)).
I think if you work near and around World Square, with a bit of pre-planning I think you can make a comparable (or even better) salad at home. Bring that in to work, save some cash and then treat yourself to something nice and naughty on Friday (make it your cheat day!).
The Gardens- Sat 29 December (2.5 stars)
PH: (02) 9283 5737
Shop 1, World Square Shopping Centre, 644 George Street, Sydney NSW
Mon-Fri 6.30am – 4pm
Sat-Sun 7am – 2pm