Downtown, you've been chopped. Wait, make that Chop't.
You see, while in D.C. last year, I popped into a newish, modern and smart little chain called Chop't that focused on healthy salads. Its marketing hook was that it plunked prime goodies from multiple bins of add-ons, mixed them with lettuces and then, with huge "half moon" knives, rapidly shredded the whole shebang together. The melange then got tossed with one of the place's signature dressings.
At the time, I wondered why someone in Columbus couldn't open a place like that lean, mean, cheap and really healthy fast-casual-type restaurant. Fortunately, now with Market 65, someone has.
In fact, from the same to-go containers to its bright coffee shop appearance to everything I've just described, Market 65 has brought the aforementioned terrific concept to Ohio. This is an exciting development for healthy-option-seeking Downtown lunchers.
Market 65 - which uses biodegradable food containers, brews Stauf's coffee and advertises its "locally grown" intentions - also features homemade soups du jour. From these, I enjoyed a Cilantro Cream of Carrot (potato soupy, with lots of good carrot flavor and a hefty body derived more from root veggies than cream) and a garlicky and appealingly light Potato and Bacon.
Apart from soups, of course there's the place's showcased salads. These can be self-designed, turned into a flour tortilla "wrap" or simply selected from Market 65's actual menu items.
Overall, I found the generously sized salads I tried - which arrived in nice, huge, white ceramic bowls when ordered "for here" - to be quite good if a tad shy in the add-ons department. But those in-house-prepped, grilled and roasted add-ons stood out for their impressive freshness, variety and quality.
The following salads came with either toasted homemade croutons or a hunk of good sourdough bread plus one of Market 65's interesting housemade dressings.
• #65 ($9) : An arugula and roasted veggie medley that was maybe 90 percent arugula. Still, I quite liked its meaty, grill-flavored portobello chunks, zucchini and hefty fingerling potato segments.
• Blackened Cobb ($8.75) : The fine, sliced grilled chicken was attractively smoky scented. As for the suggested dressing - a zesty chipotle ranch - it seemed rather heavy when combined with some of the fresh salad's other elements (like avocado, sliced-to-order hard-boiled egg and feta cheese).
• The Pacific Rim ($8.75) : Nice concept, and while I enjoyed the symbiotic relationship between its spinach, edamame, cashews and chickpeas, I would have appreciated more than three shrimp in a salad of this size.