Thursday, August 2, 2012

Hello Bistro (Oakland)

I love salads, but I never like the salads I make at home because they are generally too bland and too boring.  Anything that would taste good in my books would require too much ingredient prep on my part.  (Go ahead, call me lazy.)

As such, I am very happy to have discovered the new Hello Bistro, a salad and burger restaurant that recently opened in Oakland.  Boasting over 50 salad toppings, I knew going in that this would be nothing like any Eat 'n Park salad bar.  (Hello Bistro is owned by Eat 'n Park.)

Here's how this place works:  You are handed a menu as you line up.  I can't speak for the burgers and sandwiches, but for salads, you can either opt for one of the few Hello Bistro creations or make your own for $7.  There are little notepads you can use to check off your unlimited topping choices - yes, I said unlimited.  Here's an example (not mine):

Hello Bistro
Create your own salad

Instead of coming up with my own salad concoction, I went with one of Hello Bistro's creations - the Caribbean Shrimp Salad, which consists of mixed greens, marinated shrimp, avocado, black beans, corn, tortilla strips, and citrus lime vinaigrette.

Once you place your order, a staff walks down the display of salad toppings filling a bowl with the appropriate ingredients.

Hello Bistro
Over 50 toppings!

Then your bowl is handed off to another staff member.  In my case, it was a friendly young man named Peter who posed in a photo for me.  He chopped my salad whichever way I wanted (medium chunks, please) and added the amount of dressing I wanted (moderate, please).

Hello Bistro
Chopping the salad and tossing in the dressing

And voila!  My salad!  Fresh, tasty, and great combination of ingredients and flavors.  Way better than what I can make at home, and the portion is huge, too.  I filled up on just this salad alone.

Caribbean Shrimp Salad at Hello Bistro
Caribbean Shrimp Salad ($9)

The setting at Hello Bistro is contemporary, casual, and a bit quirky.  I sat at the bar in front of this gigantic though all the students coming in would really want to see another blackboard.  But I must admit, it does add a certain playfulness the space.

Hello Bistro
Hello Bistro exudes an image that's fun-loving and playful

And speaking of students, expect to run into drones of them as Hello Bistro is located on Forbes Avenue in the heart of "college central" (and just a couple doors down from my favorite Razzy Fresh - BONUS!).  It was pretty busy even in the summer, so it'll be interesting to see what the lines are like when school is back in session.

As a salad lover, I will be back for sure.  Will I ever try a sandwich or a burger at Hello Bistro?  Maybe.  But the big draw for me is definitely the delicious and fully customizable salads that I am unable to replicate at home.  I might even create my own salad next time at Hello Bistro.

Restaurant info:
Hello Bistro
3605 Forbes Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15213
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