Designer Greens

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At Designer Greens in east Orlando, your salad is tossed and served in a metal mixing bowl.

If one of your resolutions is to be more conscientious about your diet, maybe you’ve decided to add more salads to your daily meal planner. That can be a good thing as long as you don’t start building salads the size of Pittsburgh and adding things like chicken-fried steaks as a topping. You might also want to think of dressings in terms of tablespoons rather than pints. Just a suggestion.

But overall, an entree salad can be a better option than, say, a double bacon cheeseburger with fries. You may want to consider Designer Greens, a draft-your-own salad eatery on Orlando’s east side.

At Designer Greens, which occupies a small storefront space in the Waterford Lakes area, not far from the Home Depot, you have your own personal salad builder at your beck and call. She does the tonging and tossing -- think of it as a salad bar without a sneeze guard.

You design your own salad in several steps. First you decide if you want a half salad or a full salad, which for our purposes we’ll call the Pittsburgh. (Go with a half; it’s plenty.) Then you choose the lettuce, romaine or spring mix.

In step three, you get to choose three toppings (five if you’re headed for Pittsburgh) from a list of about 36. You’ve got everything from artichokes and avocados to mushrooms, sun-dried tomatoes and various cheeses. If you can’t limit it to just three, you can add others at 50 cents each, but this is a slippery slope if you’re going the salad route as part of a dieting regimen.

Step four is optional -- you can add a meat, such as turkey, ham or tuna. Chicken-fried steak is not an option, but chicken tenders are. Beware.

The last step is the dressing, which you can have your salad maker add and toss or request on the side. There are a baker’s dozen options, including some so-called light dressings.

All along the process the salad maker was tossing my choices into a large metal mixing bowl, and at the end, she added the last bit of dressing, gave it a hearty toss -- and then handed the bowl to me.

I’m all for eliminating unnecessary plates and utensils. In fact, one of my resolutions is to save the planet if it’s convenient to do so. But I’ve seen St. Bernards eat out of bowls smaller than this one. And those metal bowls have a tendency to slide and twirl when you try to eat out of them. I ended up dumping the salad into a foam container (sorry, planet, maybe next year). And while we’re on the subject, less cheesy forks would be nice. Those salad greens are hard to spear sometimes.

If you’d rather not be bothered with all the choices, Designer Greens also offers a selection of “chef designed” salads. And DG also has a line of sandwiches as well as sandwich and salad pairings. But if you’re going to go that route you may as well set your GPS for Pennsylvania.

Designer Greens is at 464 N. Alafaya Trail, Orlando. It’s open for lunch and dinner daily. Half salads are about $5; fulls about $7. Here’s a link to The phone number is 407-282-8588.


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