Recently at Veg Salad Craft, a new restaurant in downtown Eugene, a woman exclaimed, “I’m from San Diego and this tzatziki is to die for!”
Whether San Diego is known for its tzatziki remains unclear, but what is certain is Veg makes its own vibrant tzatziki. Along with other dressings including jalapeño ranch, wild berry vinaigrette, miso ginger and more.
It all goes on top of Veg’s salads — build your own, or order off the menu. Creations celebrating what restaurant founder Mike Roscoe calls “the bounty of the Pacific Northwest. We don’t need to go to Florida or California,” he goes on, “It’s all right here.”
Roscoe partnered with his wife to open Veg last fall in a vacant retail space on Willamette. The concept is “healthy, local produce in a super sustainable, super nourishing package,” he says. The bowls in which the salads are served are completely sustainable, Roscoe explains, down to the glue adhering the Veg logo to the outside of the package. I try the Cobb salad (chop iceberg, chicken, red beet, egg, avocado, cherry tomatoes, blue cheese and bacon) with jalapeño ranch. Veg offers tons of vegan and vegetarian options, but there’s also steak, chicken, smoked salmon, bacon and eggs, Roscoe explains.
In the Cobb salad, the produce is fresh and flavorful, the portion hearty, with a little savory, bacon-y pop alongside the energetic heat of the jalapeño. There’s also the Buddha Bowl (mixed greens, tofu, edamame succotash, red onion, sweet red pepper, cherry tomatoes, shredded rainbow carrots), or the Dirty Bird (Chop romaine, chicken, roasted corn, black beans, avocado, pico de gallo, pepper jack cheese, tortilla strips and Southwest spice mix.) Or instead of a salad, try the soup.
Step inside Veg, with exposed brick, hardwood floors, a stainless-steel salad bar designed to make the colors of the produce pop, and you just feel a little cleaner. Pick your salad topping and watch the Veg staff build your salad for you. Meanwhile on the wall, video screens silently tell the story of a fifth-generation hazelnut farmer in Junction City. It’s an urban yet accessible aesthetic. Very Eugene, but also tailor-made to be replicated across multiple locations in a good-food-fast twist on the fast food formula. “We wanted to use reclaimed lumber as much as possible,” Roscoe says. “We wanted it to be very sleek and clean and modern looking.”
Overall, Roscoe wants people to know Veg is a Eugene-grown concept. The reason they did it in Eugene, he says, is to reflect back health and outdoor-lifestyle focus of the community. “We are 100 percent Eugene,” he says.
Veg Salad Craft is open 10:30 pm to 7:30 pm Monday through Saturday at 861 Willamette in Eugene. For more information see vegsaladcraft.com.