You can finally try this popular Montreal salad bar! 🥗
Say goodbye to bland salads, because this new restaurant puts a fancy, flavourful spin on traditional leafy bowls. Mandy's Gourmet Salads, a popular Montreal chain, is officially opening its first Toronto location, and you can get your hands on all sorts of colourful dishes.
Founded in 2004 by sisters Rebecca and Mandy Wolfe, the gourmet salad bar began in the back of a woman's clothing store, and now has eight shops across Montreal.
The Toronto store is the first location to open outside of Québec, with more planned to open in the city as well as internationally in the future.
"We have always dreamed of being in Toronto," says Rebecca. "This is the big city for us as Montrealers, [...] we figured that this was the the natural next step and we've been planting the seed forever now, we've been trying to open for two years."
"We're so overwhelmed with Toronto love so far. We open[ed] for just delivery through third-party and it's been amazing, we were busy, we've run out of food everyday. We actually had to close for dinner last night because we didn't have any more food to serve Toronto so we're really grateful."
Located on Ossington Avenue, the venue is officially welcoming guests as of March 1, and here's a first look at what you can expect.
The Ossington location may be small, but it certainly doesn't lack in aesthetics. A burst of fun colours and prints greet you as soon as you step through the door.
"We want to give people the experience that salads and eating healthy can be sexy," says Mandy. "It doesn't have to be a diet experience where you come in and the calories are posted and you're in a cafeteria and there's no vibe."
"We want people to feel as excited about eating healthy as they are excited to go out at night and have a drink and get together with people that they love [...]. There's no reason why we can't have it all."
The dining area is filled with plush pink seating and a tropical wall complete with banana-shaped lights. Family photos hang across the vibrant wallpaper, giving the space a homey, personal feel.
Many decorative items were sourced from the sisters' travels, such as vintage bottles from their favourite antique store in Kennebunkport and photographs of their horseback riding experience in The Bahamas.
One of the most eye-catching features is the illuminated bar area lined with theatrical mirrors where you can enjoy your meal and snap a selfie.
The shop also sells merchandise such as hoodies and snacks, and you can get your takeout order from the cheerful pink pick-up shelves.
The bathroom is definitely worth checking out — the room is decked out in colourful wallpaper and retro designs.
Mandy's is all about salads, but not the bland, flavourless bowls you might be used to.
"We really wanted people to be able to eat healthy and quickly," says Mandy. "I still love, you know, pizza and sandwiches and chips, but something that doesn't make you want to take a nap after."
"We wanted people to eat live food, colourful food, food from the earth, the least processed possible. We put together a menu that is internationally inspired with tons of colour and flavour, all homemade recipes for dressings, and unusual combinations of flavours and textures, and people love it. So we wanted to bring it to Toronto."
The menu is brimming with a variety of healthy salads and bowls, as well as cold-pressed juices.
The Peanut Satay Salad is drizzled with sesame citrus dressing and filled with shredded carrots, purple cabbage, mango, green onions, wonton chips, peanut mock chicken, and peanuts. It has a crisp, fresh taste and is delightfully crunchy thanks to the peanuts and wonton chips.
The Endless Summer comes with avocado, quinoa, pomegranate seeds, tempura onions, and tamari mock chicken, and every bite is bursting with flavour. It's also quite filling due to the hearty ingredients.
So far, the most popular Toronto salad is the Cobb Salad, which has cherry tomatoes, avocado, green onions, mushrooms, baked pita chips, bacon, and a hard boiled egg.
"Aside from being a Montreal-based company, I think it's really great that it's a women-founded and run business," Mandy says. "And not only that; we're two sisters. I think that a strong family can really create a strong business, and Becca and I've been doing this together for 18 years, we still love each other."
"As much as people love the experience and the food, they also love the story behind it, and it's a true story. We're just so happy to be here and meeting new people and being welcomed into such a great big city like Toronto."
Address: 52 Ossington Ave., Toronto, ON
Why You Need To Go: You don't have to sacrifice flavour for healthiness at this gourmet salad bar, which has just opened its first Toronto location.
This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.