A few weeks ago, I was having lunch with some former New Yorkers, who bemoaned the lack of salad bars in Charleston. These girls said they regularly ate lunch at places that loaded up greens with veggies, much like Moe's Southwest loads up tortillas with fillings. Someone must have overheard that conversation because Verde opened last week, and it brings the salad bar concept to Charleston.
Verde is located in the former Bruegger's Bagels spot at 347 King St. and is owned by Jennifer and Sam Ferrebee, two locals who also saw the need for a quick salad spot. The space has been transformed into a bright, green, fresh-feeling restaurant with striped walls and plenty of seating.
The concept is pretty straightforward. Choose your green, add some toppings, and they'll mix it up with dressing right there (they have 15 to choose from).
On Wednesday, they were doing a brisk business. Tubs of fresh lettuces were constantly being replenished as a busy line of workers filled orders. Because I tend to overload the toppings and create very expensive salads for myself, I opted for one of their signature creations. If you have better self control, you can build your own. The base salad is $6.95 and includes four toppings. It's $0.50 per topping after that with proteins ranging from $0.95 to $2.95. I went for The Southern Harvest Salad ($8.95), which comes with an intriguing mix of mesclun, chicken, apples, pecans, and cornbread croutons. What really got my interest was the sweet tea vinaigrette, which ended up being a little less exciting than I had hoped but was still good.
The menu has classics like Caesar, Cobb, and Mandarin, but it also has more interesting stuff like a chickpea salad, which is described as hummus deconstructed: romaine, chickpeas, roasted red peppers, feta, pita chips, and lemon tahini dressing along with a final squeeze of lemon.
Overall, I think this is a great addition to the downtown lunch scene. I also appreciate their trash sorting area, which lives up to the green of their name with bins for trash, compost, and recycling. They've also got local products like American Classic Tea and yesUmay Cookies. Even better, they promise to change the menu seasonally and have soups too.
Hours are Mon.-Sat: 11 a.m.-9 p.m. and Sun: 11 a.m.-5 p.m. (843) 579-2884.