After our breakfast at Arcade, Marie and I took a leisurely drive around Memphis with our son, eventually landing at The Children’s Museum of Memphis, where we had a complete blast. It’s one of our favorite children’s museums in the southeast, and we stayed for two hours of awesome playing, eventually choosing to bow out when the place got a little too crunched with field trips. One of the many great things they have here is a “skyscraper,” sort of a Habitrail for kids that they can safely climb, way above anybody’s heads, from one little box to another. On our very first visit, he was too small, and on our last visit, he was too nervous to try it, but this time he just zoomed up to the tallest point.
A couple of hours into this, we started thinking about our food options. Marie suggested a salad somewhere, and I could totally get behind that, as I was already craving the barbecue we’d eat on the next day, and something a little healthier sounded like a good idea. A little Googling found a reasonably new place called Lettuce Eat which was located not too far from our hotel, where we’d have to go to pick up the girlchild anyway. By chance, we’d been in the exact location of this restaurant when we were in town six years previously. Penzeys Spices has closed their Memphis-area storefront, where we shopped on our 2010 trip, and Lettuce Eat moved in.
Here’s something that has never happened before. When we visited in May, the restaurant was indeed called Lettuce Eat. Two weeks ago, they changed their name to Wild Beet Salad Company in advance of opening a second location in East Memphis. After a little back and forth, I decided that they’d probably appreciate it if our blog acknowledged the new name when we posted this.
I really did like the original name better. Just saying. I see that they ran into a trademark issue, but still.
Anyway, the restaurant’s owner, Kelcie Hamm Allen, is a native Memphian who went to college in Manhattan, and there, she fell in love with all the healthier restaurant choices available. If the crowd on our visit was any indication, she’s onto a great idea. This is a really popular lunch spot. It’s in a fairly large shopping center on Poplar near Kirby, but there weren’t many spaces left to park, and it sure did feel as though most of the people were jammed into this one tiny space.
Guests take slips and pencils and mark their choices while waiting in line. They have ten regular salads on the menu, which can also be served as wraps, along with seasonal selections, and of course guests can also build their own, which is what Marie did. For a picky eater like our son, this is a great option. He doesn’t like lettuce of any kind, although he does have several favorite veggies, so he got a little bowl with beets, avocados, corn, and so on that pleased him completely.
I just picked the “West Coast” salad, which comes with avocados, cucumbers, hearts of palm, and tomatoes within a simply gigantic pile of kale and spinach. I’d have happily paid the same price for about half the greenery and a little more of the other ingredients. Should the road ever take us back to this restaurant, or should Allen successfully build it out into a chain, I will definitely remember that for next time. You certainly get your money’s worth here, but the good stuff-to-greens ratio was a little unfavorable, I’d say. Also, they have more than fifteen dressings available, and, selfishly, they don’t give you nearly enough for such a mammoth mountain of spinach. The lime cilantro jalapeno dressing is downright fantastic, but it got lost in all the finely-chopped greenery.
Still, the quibbles that I have are down to my own tastes, and the efficient setup means that the staff can easily customize things to guests’ liking and offer suggestions. I won’t say that I love the restaurant, but I like it, and I could easily become a bigger fan if I were to come back.
You can see all the restaurants that we have visited for our blog on this map, with links back to the original blog posts. It’s a terrific resource for anybody planning a road trip through the southeast!