Sprout – 4/5
Here’s how it went down.
“Liz, I’m having boy problems. Help?”
“Can’t guarantee that anything I say will help – hell, it might lead you off a social cliff – but let’s grab lunch downtown and talk it over.” (To myself: An excuse to eat out! Yesssssss.)
“Sprout. I’m craving their spring rolls.”
And off to Sprout we went.
Food – 5/5
No matter how many times I go to Sprout, I always forget how much I like their food. Even I, a healthier-than-average eater, tend to mentally discount this restaurant based solely on its salad-centric marketing. It took their transformation of my checklist-designed salad (hearts of romaine base with black beans, sweet corn, jicama, red onions, quinoa, crispy tortilla strips, herb grilled chicken breast and chili lime vinaigrette with a slice of French bread) into a light, filling blend of fun Southwestern and fresh California flavors. The French bread would’ve been much better served warm, but it still served its purpose of (super gracefully) mopping up the leftover dressing.
My distressed friend indulged her aforementioned spring roll craving, served with a side of vaguely spicy peanut sauce and was kind enough to let me try them. I understand now. Like my friend, these little guys are hot, manageable, and… they work well with peanut sauce?
Service – 4/5
Since the whole setup is self-directed – you pick up a menu, check off the items you want in your salad, and then bring it to the counter (where you can also order a variety of soups, pre-made salads, sandwiches, and desserts) – service is what you make it. We had to wait a little longer than expected for salad, but it was lunch hour on a Monday and very busy, so let’s give Sprout the benefit of the doubt.
Price – 5/5
My half salad cost $5.50, not including the addition of grilled chicken for an extra $1.95, and the spring rolls (order of 4) were $4.25 on the “small bites” menu. Similar appetizers run up to $8, entrée-sized salads are $8-10, sandwiches run from $6-9, and all soups are about $5. But, remember to show your SUID to save 10%.
Location and Setting – 4/5
Situated on the second block of University Avenue, Sprout doesn’t have a lot of outdoor seating space for those sunny Palo Alto afternoons (in February). Most of Sprout’s seating is indoors, with benches and booths along the wall, plus a number of free-standing tables and a few cushier chairs by the front window. The latter have pretty deep seats and don’t seem very conducive to eating potentially messy soups or salads, and the table seats weren’t very comfortable at all. That said, they didn’t cause any back problems either, and the whole interior has a very clean, soft, grassy aesthetic that’s a great for light (or maybe even deep and meaningful) lunch conversations.
Good for... a calm, healthy environment in which to work through your #stanfordproblems.
Sprout – 4/5