Fresh off a tweet about Syrian refugees that sparked some controversy this week, the critic for La Presse ventures to Mandy's, a create-your-own salad chain with three Montreal locations. At first blush, the review is unexpected; Marie-Claude Lortie has yet to weigh in on the likes of Le Fantôme, Montréal Plaza, Provisions, Le Mousso, Brasserie Harricana, Soubois, Pintxo, Albert Bistro, and Brasserie Lucilles. Nonetheless, salads it is.
Lortie speculates at the outset of her write-up on Mandy's that (translated) "a lot of business opportunities are lost by restaurateurs who don't understand what women want to eat for lunch." Not all women, and not just women, the critic is careful to add, but sisters Mandy and Rebecca Wolfe obviously struck a nerve when they started Mandy's in 2004 "with no prior food, business, marketing, or advertising experience." More and more women, and men, want to lighten up their diets, asserts Lortie, and Mandy's delivers on that score with bespoke salads—and soups as well.
There is a noticeable lack of specifics on food in the review, but Lortie writes that fixin's at Mandy's are invariably, and impeccably, fresh. The critic's favourite Mandy's salad? The Cobb, "à cause de l'abondance de légumes ponctuée par les oeufs durs, les morceaux de bacon et le croustillant des morceaux de pain pita grillés." The chain's smoked meat salad comes with crushed Cape Cod potato chips for a cool hit of textural contrast. For dessert, Lortie suggests a homemade cookie, and maybe a Dr Pepper to wash it all down (the critic's soft drink of choice). None of this seems particularly light, or healthy, but, regardless, would Lortie return to Mandy's? "Tout le temps."