Chop’d seemed to me like one of those functional ‘drop-in’ eat-while-you-google spaces which offers some kind of lifestyle choice with its ‘build a better salad’ catchline but which ultimately ends up being a bit bland.
The main reason is the soulless interior, which looks like countless other modern places where open space seems to be valued above all else. The wall behind the counter, pristine in white brick effect tile, looks vaguely as though it belongs in a prison cell, while the wood panelled service counter could have come from Ikea, its stainless steel top bedecked with a neatly organised clutch of cans, crisps, condiments and so forth.
The frontage is glass, ceilings are high. This is one of the new scattering of shops and eateries which have opened up in the Central Square building but, like the neatly manicured ‘gardens’ which surround it and most of the other new office blocks just down the road, it offers scant respite from the morbidity of office life.
So, it’s with a slight sigh of resignation that I enter it from the Whitehall Road entrance, on the hunt for a better salad.
Salads are pre-made in plastic boxes, to which you then add your dressing, although you can also build your own salad or wrap if you like.
My choice of salad (Parma ham and mozzarella, £5.75) suggested ‘ranch dressing’ but they did not seem to have any out and when I asked at the counter, the assistant merely said there should be some out. In the end, I chose a different dressing (because, you know what, the world is not going to end just because they have no ranch dressing). To this I added a coconut water (£1.95), a choice I later regretted - nothing wrong with it per se, it’s probably one of those things you have to get used to.
All that said, ultimately I believe Chop’d has its head in the right place.
Since opening in 2004, they now have 15 outlets across the UK, so they must be doing something right. Their deliberate focus on healthy eating has obviously struck a chord. They sell 20,000 salads a week, together with wraps, stews and soups. They also subscribe to the ‘seasonal is best’ mantra and try to source ingredients locally. They also offer delivery and ‘click and collect’ options.
And they do breakfast, including steamed eggs, porridge, toast and muesli, all of which looks really rather good, the porridge in particular, as it’s drizzled with honey, fruit and nuts. My salad was good, the dressing was delicious and so, after all that, my only real issue with Chop’d is its decor, which I think jars with the ‘no fuss’ ethos. The edges could be softer, the lighting lower, chairs more rustic. Other than that, it’s tasty, value for money food.
Chop’d, Central Square, Wellington Street, LS1 4DL