Summer is here, along with Western New York’s jam-packed calendar. As our appetites turn to the lighter side, it can be a challenge to find freshly prepared, healthful food on the go.
In an attempt to get dinner on the table quickly without resorting to pizza or subs, I stopped in at Newbury Street Café, on the corner of Bryant and Elmwood at the former Louie’s Hot Dogs location.
Newbury is named after the famous Boston shopping strip that inspired owner Paul Tsouflidis, who also runs Acropolis. Primarily cafeteria-style geared for takeout, Newbury has family-style and countertop seating for 20. The freshly remodeled space feels twice as large as Louie’s was, with its open kitchen and modern, nature-inspired colors. The doors have been open since May.
One of several new restaurants focusing on vegetarian-based, health-conscious dishes, Newbury is not a chain; Tsouflidis wanted something locally grown, so to speak, and calls it the area’s first “non-GMO approved” salad bar—meaning its menu is free of genetically modified ingredients. Whenever possible, he tries to source organic and locally grown food, with the help of an independent consultant who helps him verify the GMO-free sources. He also set up a multistep washing station downstairs for cleaning the greens, and avoids soy and gluten products for people with sensitivities.
But Newbury isn’t just for kale-lovers. While the menu does revolve around green salads – you can choose from romaine, kale, arugula, spinach and mixed spring greens – there are brown rice and spicy quinoa bowls ($5 or $8), hot and cold soups ($5 or $8), and several blends of fruit and veggie smoothies ($6) and cold-pressed juices ($8).
Newbury sources its organic sprouts from Honeoye Falls, organic wheatgrass from Thunder Mountain Foods in Bath, N.Y. and more recently, partnered with the Green Entrepreneurial Center’s urban farm in Buffalo. A treat for coffee lovers, the restaurant serves hot and cold-brewed, organic coffees ($3) from New York’s popular Gimme! Coffee. They also make their own lemonades ($3) and carry Mighty Leaf organic teas ($3).
The staff making my dishes were friendly and helpful, running through the myriad salad toppings and, for people who can’t decide, a short list of “signature salads” ($8-$10), including Chicken Chia Berry and Kale Quinoa. There are seven housemade dressings, including lemon tahini, creamy cucumber basil, and balsamic vinaigrette.
If you mix and match, once you choose either greens, soup or grain bowl, you get four toppings from Newbury’s standard menu and, if you want extras like hummus or citrus cilantro shrimp, anything from the “premium” list ($1-$4 extra per item). There were just two cheeses when I visited – feta and a “nutty Swiss” – as well as two types of cubed, cooked chicken for animal-based protein.
I went with a loaded green salad, spicy quinoa bowl and the Beacon Street juice, a sweet blend of beet, apple, lemon and ginger. The compostable cardboard bowls are ample and provided enough for two dinner servings and leftovers.
Everything was very fresh – a must for any decent salad bar. I appreciated details like halved cherry tomatoes and cubed cucumber, which are easier to spear and eat, and a mix of cilantro, mint and parsley that added a bright twist to my spicy quinoa bowl. To that I added red onion and hemp seeds (think larger, chewier quinoa), feta and Greek chicken, all tossed with a lime-jalapeno dressing. The green salad got a lemon-tahini drizzle and a dollop of delicious beet hummus.
The only disappointment came when I discovered that the dressings lacked a necessary punch. The lemon-tahini, a favorite of mine, didn’t provide enough citrus or creamy nuttiness of ground sesame, and while the lime-cilantro-jalapeno had a little more power, it wasn’t enough to be memorable. A free sample of the carrot-miso-ginger also tasted mostly of oil, even after a good shake. Next time I’ll try more of it on a salad and see if it perks up.
Overall, Newbury Street Café’s fresh thinking about what constitutes a salad is a welcome addition to Elmwood’s casual dining scene. Let’s hope the summer-centric menu can make the transition to fall, because there’s room in this town for more interesting four-season greens.
Newbury Street Café
470 Elmwood Ave., Buffalo (886-6466, www.newburystreetcafe.com)
Hours: 10:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily.
Extra: “Super Tuesdays” gets you a green salad with four toppings and a dressing for $5.
Wheelchair access: Yes