Salads get a bad rap. Often relegated to the sides or starters of meals, and deemed 'too light' to be a main course, salads are seldom the star or main attraction. 'Mandy's' located on 5033 Sherbrooke in Westmount and 201 Laurier West in the Plateau, reverses the salad stereotype and brings the leafy dish into the spotlight.

Unimpressed with the heavy and starchy lunch offerings that dominate the food scene, founder Mandy Wolfe and sister Rebecca sought out healthier and lighter options. Inspired by the salad bars of NYC, the pair decided to bring the food trend to Montreal. For the last nine years 'Mandy's' has pleased customers with bowls of delicious greens that truly please your health and hunger needs.

The menu of Mandy's is an impressive display of variety. Customers can choose Signature Salads, mixed bowls expertly concocted by Mandy and her staff, which range from simple to exotic flavour combinations (check them all out here), with local inspirations such as the Montreal smoked meat salad. Local and seasonal ingredients are used when available, such as June's berry-based salads, and imported fruits and veggies are employed during the colder months. It is Canada people, the climate doesn't exactly cater to salads.

If none of the Signature Salads catch your eye, customers always have the option of building your own salad. The base price starts at $6.99 with five basic ingredients included, and can be upgraded to include a plethora of other tasty ingredients including nuts, fruits, cheese, and meats. Order a specific salad more than once and Mandy's will put your creation into its records for ease in ordering next time. Mandy's prides itself on its customer service and attention to detail, a claim I saw justified by Mandy's jovial atmosphere and happy customers who entered and exited the store.

When I got to try Mandy's salads, I understood why customers keep coming back. It is definitely not just the customer service. My first salad was the 'Mexican Salad' which featured mixed greens along with beans, avocado, corn, red peppers, cheese, and tortilla chips all topped off with a cilantro-cumin vinaigrette. The salad was reminiscent of a burrito bowl you might get at Chipotle, only a little lighter and less bogged down with ingredients, but in a good way. The dressing was smooth and silky, yet smoky and spicy, an awesome pairing with all the aforementioned ingredients. It comes as no surprise that many Mandy's customers refer to the salad dressings as 'crack dressings.'

A slightly sweeter salad option I got to taste was a combination of a Fruit-Sesame and December Salad. Toasted pecans, pears, cucumbers, avocados, strawberries, Parmesan, and tons of sesame seeds filled the bowl of this truly unique salad. Despite the large number of ingredients, every piece fit into the salad puzzle with incredible complexity. The salad was simultaneously sweet and salty, crunchy and smooth, and altogether delicious. Salad naysayers must request this bowl, you won't be disappointed

Looking ahead to the future, Mandy's is looking to expand into the breakfast market this Summer and lighten up morning food options much like it did for lunch. I'm excited to see how Mandy's will overturn breakfast tropes and reform them into healthy and delicious recreations.

With its mom and pop feel for a new era, Mandy's is a great pick for anyone looking for a lighter lunch option which still gets the hunger job done. Personalized service, healthy options, and, of course, some well tossed salads, can all be found at Mandy's. Oh, and if you're looking for a post-salad sugar fix, Mandy's has your back with homemade cookies. And for a salad shop, it was damn good.

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