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Salad Quest: Lion Iverson roars with flavor

Salad Quest visits Michael's and Unique Blend in Elkhart.
Posted on April 22, 2013 at 1:00 a.m.

Marshall V. King

Salad Quest

Iverson Grove got to help design a dish that helped him lose about 60 pounds.

It happens to be a salad. And you can find it at Unique Blend, 805 Bower St., Elkhart.

Grove is a real estate appraiser whose office is in the same building as the small restaurant on the north side of Elkhart. He tuned into the “Eat Right for Your Type” diet that targets foods that are best for your blood type.

I’ve looked at eating that way, but haven’t dug in enough to know if it makes sense.

But I know this: The Lion Iverson salad for the type A blood that Grove created with Chef Adam Williams is mighty good.

Grove is a member of the Elkhart Lions Club, which contributed the other part of the salad’s name.

The salad they created has celery, broccoli, carrots, sunflower seeds, almonds, raisins and dried cherries on a bed of romaine and iceberg.

Really? Iceberg again?

But this time the romaine won out. And the other ingredients add a lot of crunch and flavor. You can get grilled chicken on top, and it’s seasoned a bit before it’s cooked and sliced.

And then there’s the dressing.

It’s made with peanut butter.

The recipe is from Adam’s grandmother.

Even though he’s a chef, he won’t fiddle with the recipe. And his wife, Maggie, with whom he opened their first restaurant in 2006, won’t even let him speak of the ingredients.

I think he could add a little more vinegar, but this isn’t my grandmother’s recipe.

Reader Lucinda Leib called last week to ask when Adam’s Bistro is reopening. The answer is about three weeks. The couple will reopen the restaurant at 1600 W. Beardsley after a stint at Concord Mall. Maggie said they were busier at the Beardsley location.

The salad is one of the few things on both menus. “Everybody loves it,” Maggie said.

Adam called it “one of the staples.”

It’s a great salad. The chicken adds nice flavor, though putting it on top of greens when it’s hot wilts the lettuce a tiny bit. And the chicken may have been a tiny bit over seasoned. The dressing was added with a bit of a heavy hand. I’d order it on the side next time.

Grove said of the salad, “I think it makes a delicious mix of foods at one time.”

He’s right. And for $6.99, $7.99 with chicken, it packs a lot of flavor for a good price.

Is it good enough to be a finalist in Salad Quest?

Maybe.

For now, it’s the best salad I’ve had on the search for Elkhart County’s best salad and gets 4 1/2 out of five stars.

Michael’s Italian Village & Restaurant is one of those places I don’t visit often enough.

It’s blocks from the Elkhart Truth newsroom.

It’s got charm and great food.

And it’s got that feel of an older place that I like. Somehow I’m charmed by seeing 36 empty Chianti bottles hanging behind the bar.

Jill Ludwick, who works in the Truth’s advertising department, recommended the spinach salad ($9) because she adores the hot bacon dressing. She said it’s out of this world.

That’s not as creative as the quote from Mike Jozwiak, a reader who stopped in the office last week. He described the avocado ranch dressing at Doc Pierce’s as being so good that “Jesus comes down to get a quart on Saturdays” for him and God.

The hot bacon dressing is sweet and rich. The hunks of bacon were too big, but the flavor was right.

Tomatoes and red onions, along with spinach, work well with the dressing.

Like the Lion Iverson, the grilled chicken breast on top wilted the greens a bit. Can’t they put the chicken on the side of the plate so it doesn’t do that?

“We serve quite a few of them at lunch and dinner,” said Michael Robinson, the grandson of Michael and Janet Iavagnilio, who took over the restaurant in 1959. Friday was the first lunch I was at the restaurant where Michael wasn’t making bread in the kitchen. He’s mostly retired now and his son Rico is overseeing more.

The restaurant has had a range of salads and meat can figure prominently. You can get some with fried or grilled chicken, and the antipasto salad has a bunch of cured meats, as well as cheese, olives and peperoncini. A new menu at the restaurant includes new salads, including a Strawberry Walnut Salad that is gaining popularity.

I like the salads at Michael’s. They aren’t fancy or bold, but they’re big and good. Experience says the garlic dressing and bleu cheese dressings made in-house are good too.

Robinson, who was working behind the bar, said he doesn’t know how the dressings are made. “They whip it up and I just eat it,” he said.

As I ate, I chatted with some fine Elkhart gentlemen who love the city and Michael’s.

And I watched the television news reports from Boston.

One was a lot more enjoyable than the other.

This salad is good. And I need to go to Michael’s more often. (Four out of five stars)

I’m hungry. Let’s eat.

Marshall V. King is news/multimedia editor and food columnist for The Elkhart Truth. You can reach him at mking@etruth.com, 296-5805, on Twitter @hungrymarshall;[/URL] or via [URL]Facebook. His blog is at www.blogs.elkharttruth.com/diningalaking and you can subscribe so that you’re notified every time he posts.



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