If you are the kind of the person who likes lunch served with options, the aptly named 3 Greens Market may be your ideal spot, a smartly appointed food hall where you can linger with your laptop or enjoy a game of putt-putt.
The crowd on a recent afternoon was mixed: couples fixing to go splitsies, yoga-pant-ed East Bankers looking for a post-workout refuel, a few hungry men in ties eating dutifully over their Blackberries, a walk-in wearing an enthusiastic grin (aka your correspondent).
All crowded around one thing: the salad bar, where there’s a little something of everything for the discerning palate (menu right here).
$9.95 a pound, though.
How to best take advantage of the bounty? We visited the market numerous times to find out — including what to buy, what to skip and how to get the best bang for your dollar.
Needless to say, it'll be our new go-to. Below, what to know before you go.
1. Choose your vessel carefully. Of the two provided takeaway containers, go with the smaller box. Truth is, you’re more likely to overpack a large box, so think of the smaller box as an aid to portion control.
2. Be smart about your greens. Skip the romaine lettuce for baby spinach, which has twice as much potassium, protein, iron and vitamins. It’s also lighter. Another bargain per serving: the Spring Mix. Alternatively, prepared salads (see number 7) add value.
3. Don’t go overboard with your dressing. Expect the usual suspects (i.e. Ranch, Honey Dijon), plus a few curveballs (i.e. Pomegranate Acai, Roasted Herb). All tasty but decidedly weighty. All you really need is a crack of pepper and a shot of oil and red wine or balsamic vinegar. If you’re really hankering for flavor: drop a small quantity of olives or artichokes in your box — a bargain given how expensive both items are out of the jar.
4. Skip the raw chopped vegetables. Avoid cauliflower and broccoli. Grape tomatoes and bell peppers. The cucumbers and radishes are sliced thin enough, but skip those, too. Same goes for hard-boiled eggs. Why? For one, they’re all heavy. Also because everything listed above is incredibly easy to prep at home and add to the mix.
5. Mind your protein. Approach the brisket and pulled pork from the hot bar with caution. Then again, both cuts are from Green Street Smoked Meats, so consider yourself ahead. The real value is in the smoked salmon — cheaper here than anything at the store.
6. Skimp on the beans and plain cooked grains. Save for edamame, which presents a good value, beans are easy enough to prep yourself, and cans cost less than a dollar. Same goes with simple cooked grains like quinoa and farro. Nutritional value is high, but why pay for an individual serving when you can buy in bulk? You’ll build up your pantry and save a few pennies. Win-win.
7. Premade items are your friend. Because prepared items instantly add value: they save you the money and time you’d spend preparing them yourself. Our go-to: the 3-grain salad, a delicious mix of kale, wild rice, farro, quinoa and cranberries. Instead of plain ol’ broccoli, go for the sesame broccoli. Instead of quinoa, heap on some tabouli.
8. If all else fails, it’s cheat day. Get a burger and fries. More specifically, the pastrami burger. It’ll satiate you just fine, trust.
Photos: Christian Ford