Best Salads: Trio Café

Best Salads Runners Up: Aubrey's, Calhouns & Ruby Tuesday (tie), Tomato Head

Trio Café

This Market Square cafe-with-patio has thrived through an alleged recession, lately even expanding their hours with a Monday supper, once a rarity on Market Square. It offers probably the most conspicuous salad bar downtown, a staff-assisted pageant of about 50 prospective ingredients, with certain options like smoked salmon and blackened shrimp extra. You can direct the assembly of your own or take them up on their special suggestions, like the Asian Chicken and the Trio, the signature salad which includes brie, portabella mushrooms, pears, cranberries, and candied walnuts. The presentation adds to the occasion: the big helmet-sized ceramic bowl sitting atilt, with two long breadsticks you're tempted to use as chopsticks. David Byrne ate here once, and blogged about it. Sometimes you can judge the quality of something good by the adversities you have to overcome to get to it. Walk into the front door, and there are descriptions of the salads on the wall over on the right, but the salad bar itself is over on the left. And the cash register is way in the back, beyond the dining room. Do you wait for a waitress? Pay first? Take a seat? Wait in line at the salad bar? First-timers who don't like to ask questions may be bewildered, but there's no glory without a trial, and the fact that customers are determined to learn the drill is a testament to the quality of a big salad.