Review of Vinaigrette Salad Kitchen, Lexington, KY

Vinaigrette Vegan Power Salad with Chicken

Vinaigrette Salad Kitchen is a new restaurant off of Leestown Road that describes themselves as a “fast casual salad shop serving fresh gourmet salads.” As the first salad shop of its kind in Lexington, it’s causing quite a stir. My eyes widened in excitement as I heard the announcement of their opening because, as a health-conscious nutritionist that struggles to find restaurant options that are gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free, and mammal-free, salads are my mecca, especially when they’re packed with hearty, fresh ingredients. When I looked at their menu, my heart skipped a beat when I saw their Vegan Power Salad. A restaurant option that doesn’t require me to make a million adjustments to the ingredients and then still worry about any hidden dairy or egg?  I was sold, and I knew I had to make the pilgrimage to this salad mecca.

I ordered the Vegan Power Salad, which consists of spring mix with Napa cabbage, quinoa, chickpeas, carrots, cucumbers, grape tomatoes, sweet peppers, roasted sunflower seeds, and edamame. Somewhat ironically, I added grilled chicken to this vegan salad and swapped the salad’s standard Creamy Lemon Vinaigrette for their Blackberry Sorghum Vinaigrette. My mom ordered their Orange Blossom Salad, a mixture of romaine and iceberg mix with Napa cabbage, crispy rice noodles, edamame, snow peas, carrots, and cucumbers with a Honey Orange Sesame Vinaigrette. They also had a tempting assortment of lemonades, including Sweet Baby Watermelon, Blackberry Mint, and Lemon Rosemary.

The Food:
I really enjoyed my salad- the ingredients were really fresh and crisp. I loved the edamame and chickpeas in the Vegan Power Salad- it’s so nice to see some vegan sources of protein out there. Further, I knew I had to order this salad when I saw the quinoa- finally a place in Lexington that uses quinoa in salads! It adds such a great texture to the greens, and it’s a wonderful source of protein and fiber. Additionally, the tomatoes and cucumbers were really tasty! So often restaurants use pathetically pale insipid tomatoes and wimbly, watery cucumbers in their salads; thus, it was refreshing to get some quality ingredients. You really get a lot of salad at Vinaigrette, as they fit a lot of greens and lettuce into those deep metal bowls (which is a cute idea, by the way). I drizzled my salad in their Blackberry Sorghum Vinaigrette, a delightfully rich and smooth dressing with a hint of fruit and sweetness, but not overly saccharine or tangy. I definitely enjoyed this vinaigrette and got a second cup of it to finish off my lettuce (they’ll give you as much dressing as you need). I tried both their Sweet Baby Watermelon and Blackberry Mint lemonades. The Blackberry Mint was pretty good, but, oh my, the Sweet Baby Watermelon… SO GOOD. I could drink that all day. I love the taste of watermelon, and Vinaigrette perfectly captured the delightful sweetness of fresh watermelon in this crisp and refreshing lemonade. Overall, I was very satisfied (both with the taste and quality of the food and also with how the salad satisfied my hunger).

The Atmosphere: 
The interior is quaint and adorably appointed. There is great texture and warmth to the interior: rustic brick, barn wood, metal chairs, wooden tables, subway tile… the interior gets a definite thumbs up from me. However, the seating is almost absurdly minimal- there are three tables, three! I understand they are a new business and pressed for space, but finding a place to sit was a challenge. At lunch time, all of the tables inside were occupied, their tables outside were occupied, the benches were occupied, the tables in front of the neighboring Orange Leaf were occupied, and some people were sitting on stray chairs with their laps. My mom and I, along with several other patrons, had to walk around the corner to the patio of Firehouse Subs to be able to sit down. Not that it’s horribly inconvenient, but it was awkward, as the manager of Firehouse came outside to tell all the Vinaigrette patrons (who stand out with their large metal bowls) that, essentially, we couldn’t sit there but she would let us finish eating before she kicked us off the patio. So be cautious of the lunch rush and consider getting your salad to go if you are planning on trying out Vinaigrette during peak hours. However, the staff of Vinaigrette was exceptionally friendly, upbeat, and helpful. Even when I asked to add chicken to a vegan salad and inquired which of their dressings were gluten free and vegan, they were happy to answer all my questions and definitely added to the warm and inviting atmosphere at Vinaigrette.

The Prices: 
Vegan Power Salad $8.95
Add grilled chicken $3
Orange Blossom Salad $8.95
Seasonal Lemonade $3
Our total for lunch ~$26

The prices are reasonable, but you will pay more than your average quickie salad due to the quality and customizability of the ingredients. If you get a salad, and only a salad, you could scrape out of there for under $10. However, if you want to add any additional toppings, especially proteins, or if you want to indulge in one of their tantalizing lemonades, you could be over $15 for one person. As someone that rarely eats out and always packs her own lunch, it will be more of an occasional treat than a regular occurrence, but it is convenient to find somewhere that prepares healthy food in front of you.

Overall: 
I really enjoyed Vinaigrette- the food, the drinks, the atmosphere, and the business. It’s a little out of my way, but it will definitely be a top contender for future lunch dates! Want to learn more, see more pictures, and see what others have to say? Head on over to their Facebook page.

Note: I received no compensation for this review and purchased my own food. However, I would never be opposed to some complimentary salads or lemonades… you know, for taste-tasting purposes 😉

❤ Nika

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