First impressions of Choppers Custom Salad Works

Being a somewhat reluctant advocate of the salads at Green Fine Salad Company and Mad Greens, both Colorado-based weed joints (in the gourmet lettuce kind of way, people), I thought I'd check out the new Choppers Custom Salad Works at 5302 DTC Boulevard, in Greenwood Village.

It, like the others before it, works like this: You shuffle along the perimeter of an exhibition-style kitchen, flummoxed and overwhelmed by a board of possibilities that, in this case, lists four kinds of leaves (romaine, iceberg, spring mix and spinach), upwards of 50 "choppables," including vegetables, fruits, things that crunch (tortilla strips, walnuts and sunflower seeds) and things that stink (cheeses) and 18 salad dressings. Or, you can order from the chef's choice salads -- salads like the Ninja, Olympian or Health Nut -- that don't require much work on your part, other than choosing your salad size, which is easy, because there are only two: small ($6.99) or regular ($7.99).

But, that's the


cop-out way, a sign that you're a total loser when it comes to making your own decisions. In retrospect, I wish I would have gone that route, because after picking and choosing my ingredients -- spring mix, carrots, cucumbers,  fresh pears, sunflower seeds, croutons and crumbles of blue cheese -- I got hung up on having to tag my own dressing.

One by one, I sampled the blue cheese (horrible), citrus vinaigrette (way too tart), creamy cucumber (really?) and, finally, the balsamic vinaigrette, which I settled on because I didn't want to keep wasting plastic spoons, especially since this is one of those places that wants you to know how green it is, as evidenced by the verbiage in the photo below.

My friend went with the Caesar dressing, which was utterly devoid of lemon, garlic or anchovy, so after nothing but dressing let-downs, I asked the guy who was making the rounds, comment cards in tow, what was up with the salad dressings. More than half, I learned, come straight from the bottle.

I don't care what bottle they come from, how pretty the label is, or whether they're all-natural, like the blue cheese and Caesar. Serving bottled dressings, especially at a bona fide salad spot, is blasphemy.

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