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The Salad Bar Series: Sultan's Market

By Marilyn Ferdinand

Restaurant: Sultan's Market

Location: 2057 W. North Ave.

Description: This small, self-serve eatery features a large salad bar and grill items served by a crew that spoons, slices, and dishes everything from gyros to falafel to soups and rice dishes. The salad bar is charged by weight ($5.99 per pound). Indoor and outdoor seating is available.

Sneeze Guard: Each section is covered on all sides but the front by a glass box. Adequate guard for sneezes, but pretty wide opening would allow things to fall in. Unwrapped plastic tableware could make germaphobes uneasy.

Estimated Length: 14 feet, two rows of items, with a small service station in the middle piled with carry-out containers of plastic and aluminum that make taking some salad to go easy.

Reachability: No problem. Each container has its own tongs.

Best Ingredients: Tender calamari rings and mini mozzarella balls.

Unusual Ingredients: Just about everything. Fava beans in a parsley vinegarette, dolmas, lemon chicken, two types of buckwheat-stuffed squash, grilled brussels sprouts and cauliflower, plus a lot of great mixed-green salad fixings and sides, including capers, anchovies, kalamata olives, beets, feta cheese, herring in wine sauce - 30 items in all.

Dressings: Oil/vinegar, fat-free ranch, yogurt/tahini, miso ginger, roasted garlic. Only the miso ginger delivered exceptional flavor.

Comment: Commenters on other sites say the falafel is the best in the city; I wasn't in the mood, but I'll take their word for it. Despite its great variety, the salad bar was disappointing. Marinated grilled mushrooms could have been better if the slightly hot marinade had not been too vinegary. The fava beans and brussels sprouts were hard, and the green beans were watery. Likewise, the squash filling was overcooked and sticky. Based on the preferences of the steady Sunday lunch crowd that came in while I sat at a table writing this, it doesn't appear that many people come here for the salad bar. I can understand why.

Also, don't come here looking for ambiance. The Arabian-decor booths are made of unpadded wood and look not kitschy, but kind of ugly. An exposed exhaust system mars the back-lit Arabian carvings on the ceiling. Everything seems fairly clean and not as loud as it could be with a working grill in the same room. The drink cooler below a very cluttered cash register is hard to reach.

If you're in the neighborhood and craving a reasonably-priced Middle Eastern meal, stick with the grill at Sultan's Market. The salad bar just isn't that great.


Previously in The Salad Bar Series:
* La Villa. Fake shutters, red vinyl, adequate sneeze guard.
* Chuck E. Cheese's. An adult sneeze guard for pint-size sneezes. Plus, beer.
* The Cafe. Attention, Streeterville wage slaves!


Posted on June 22, 2009

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