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Salad delivers at Yates Street Taphouse

Columnist Allan Reid checks out power bowl options

With its warm wood, brick and stone decor and comfortable furnishings, the Yates Street Taphouse is a place to relax and spend a few hours with friends over drinks or perhaps a few rounds of pool.

Before COVID-19, the large bar was often surrounded by folks standing and enjoying a laugh and a cheer for their favourite teams on silent TVs, or sitting at the many tables and booths. Every seat has a TV view. Prefer a street view? The flexile façade opens up, providing high-top seating that can be tucked safely indoors on inclement days or opened to the fine weather and pedestrians passing by.

And, of course, there’s the COVID-19 patio that Dr. Bonnie has confirmed for at least another year. The Yates has long been a favourite after-movie spot, being conveniently located across the street from the downtown Odeon Theatre and a short walk from the Capital Theatres.

And so I found myself there, ready for a little dinner after a late matinée. I chose the Salmon Power Bowl ($19.)

Power Bowls have become a staple on menus throughout the city in recent years. Victorians understand what they are all about, and know what to expect—but, this isn’t that. Power bowls promise well-balanced, healthful, satisfying all-in-one meals that incorporate all the food groups fairly proportionally to our dietary needs. Invariably, they begin with a base of whole grain.

Quinoa and rice are popular, but almost any grain will do: the range of options is wide. To this base may be added some kind of legume, lentil or pea: again, the options are many. Grain and legume serve as the foundation for these bowls, providing the physical sense of fulfillment in addition to fibre and a range of nutrients and vegetable proteins. On the palate, they provide a nutty, earthy flavour base upon which to build the top notes.

Top notes can be almost anything “healthful,” and all the ingredients on my plate are perfectly acceptable—but this is a salad. The foundation is spinach, not grain. Halved cherry tomatoes are sprinkled about along with walnut pieces and goat cheese. About a quarter of an avocado is sliced and splayed on one side, next to a decent sized piece of grilled salmon perfectly seasoned (but slightly over-cooked—I prefer my salmon to be still translucent inside). The quality of the vegetables is superb: the spinach fresh and firm, the tomatoes firm and juicy, and the avocado perfectly ripe. Quantity, too, is excellent, for I depart sated, but not overstuffed.

Even aesthetically, it is a salad. Power bowls do not look like salads. Toppings tend to be sliced, diced, slivered or coiled, and then artfully arranged in appealing patterns that emphasize colour and texture: they often resemble delightful works of modern art. Exceptional power bowls contrast and complement flavours as well as colour, balancing savoury against sweet, set off by salt, umami, spices and herbs.

Art for the eye and for the palate. But this is a salad. A hearty, flavourful, fulfilling salad.

Columnist Allan Reid