ProntoFresh, Syracuse, N.Y.

The Wife has been out of school since late June and we had not been to lunch before today. We don’t do it that often, but given that she goes back to the classroom next week, it’s pretty late in the game. Rather than venture to one of our usual haunts (Pastabilities or…well, that’s where we usually wind up), we tried the recently-opened ProntoFresh.

Hanover Square got its newest eatery, ProntoFresh, from the people who run the Bull & Bear Pub. This concept restaurant is fresh food revolving around a 50+ item salad prep station. The menu features 14 salads, though building your own is not out of the question. The custom option includes lettuce, one protein and three toppings.

Toppings breakdown into proteins (chicken, julienned meats, tofu, egg), staples (tomato, cucumber and carrots join apples, craisins and pasta salad), crunch (croutons, wontons), cheese and dressings. The 12 dressings are made in-house, with low-calorie vinaigrettes, creamy offerings and the very simple squeezed lemon. Three daily soups and four carving board sandwiches round out the menu.

In addition, every salad is available as a wrap.

The Wife’s nicoise featured tuna salad, kalamata olives, pasta salad, egg and grape tomatoes in a 16-ounce plastic to-go bowl. The Wife picked a low-calorie olive oil vinaigrette to finish. Salads are tossed and poured into their serving bowl. I opted for Maddie’s Harvest Mix. Romaine lettuce was tossed with raspberry vinaigrette and topped with diced apples, craisins, walnuts, sunflower seeds and crumbled bleu cheese.

Neither salad disappointed, though some of it was offset by the scenery. The limited indoor seating saw us dine al fresco on tables overlooking Hanover Square. The auto traffic was light, making for a rather quiet, intimate, outdoor lunch. I capped mine with a homemade chocolate chip cookie, which was good but perplexing. Follow me on this one…there was too much chocolate. There just wasn’t enough cookie. I ended up looking like my daughter by the time I was finished with chocolate smeared all over my chin.

ProntoFresh is a nice diversion from the typical lunch rush. Fresh ingredients, particularly produce, is always a way to win points with their customers. And, for a $7 lunch, I’ve been hooked.

ProntoFresh is located at 133 E. Water St. in Syracuse’s Hanover Square. It is open weekdays from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Lunch, with two salads, two drinks, a cookie and a bag of SunChips, was $21.

$21

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