It’s a fact that there are plenty of unhealthy food options in Detroit. We’ve got coney dogs, burgers, barbecue, and pizza aplenty. Kelly Schaeffer-Janssen was thinking along these same lines when she came up with the idea for 7 greens, a “farm to fork” salad shop in Downtown Detroit.
A salad in Detroit is no longer a weak assortment of bag lettuce, with a few carrot slivers, and that anemic tomato wedge you’re used to. Here, salads are the main act, with the freshest and most local ingredients available. And it’s not just for vegetarians, though Schaeffer-Janssen, who has been on lifelong quest to create the ultimate salad, is one. Many of the salads are made with free-range hormone and antibiotic free meat. You will also find soups and other items made fresh regularly from scratch.
“We try to source as locally as we can, and I get deliveries from Eastern Market every single day, making a some exceptions during winter. I also try to buy things directly from local farmers as well,” said Janssen.
My favorite part about 7 greens are the dressings, which are called sauces. They are called sauces because you can do more with them than simply dress a salad. You can use them for marinades, pour them over cooked vegetables, serve them with meat, or use them as dips.
Schaeffer-Jannsen created a menu based around the sauces, which became the blueprint for a salad shop. After building out the idea a bit more she pitched the idea to Dan Gilbert. A year later (On August 13th this year) 7 greens sprouted on the retail floor of the Z-Garage. After 4 months, 7 greens is settling into the city lunch circuit quite well, drawing patrons from around downtown who are looking for a healthy option.
The premium ingredients mean that the prices might be more than what Detroiters are typically used to paying for a salad, which is about $11. However, Schaeffer-Janssen believes that paying a little extra for high quality healthy food is just a small shift in perspective that people will get used to.
The atmosphere is urban farm meets clean and bright. It’s got good light coming in from glass garage door, which can be opened up in warm weather. A long row of fresh ingredients waits for you behind the tidy counter, and the service is friendly.
I took the recommendation to try the Maurice Who? … their take on the classic Maurice salad, but kicked up a couple notches. The salad expert behind the counter expediently and carefully created a perfectly rationed mix of crisp iceberg, baby spinach, sweet gherkin, shavings of aged manchego cheese, hard-boiled egg, roasted antibiotic and hormone free turkey, prosciutto, parsley and the 7 Greens’ maurice sauce. The salad was served mixed up and ready to eat with a slice of crunchy gluten-free bread that made a nice companion. It was a true man’s salad, and I was very pleased with the amount of food and the quality.
“Yoga Girl” salad . Photo: Nick Hagen
The Yoga Girl is a bit more on the health-nut side of things, which starts with a bed of spinach and kale mixed with a roasted trio of brussels sprouts, beets, and tofu. Carrots and quinoa give it even more vitamins and texture. It is made cohesive and a bit spicy by the 7 greens’ miso sauce and a drizzling of Sriracha.
“When guys first started coming into the shop they would whisper that they wanted the Yoga Girl, and be weird about it,” laughed Schaeffer-Janssen. “Now I’ve got people who are regulars that come in and ask for the Yoga Boy, and they swap the tofu for chicken.”
If you prefer a more traditional option, the K foxy is the 7 greens version of the Caeser, and it’s one of the best renditions of the salad you will have. Oh, and if you just have to have that salad you can get at any Coney Island in Detroit, they’ve got a version of the Classic Greek salad as well.
7 Greens is open 11:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m. Monday through Friday and you’ll find them in the Z Garage at 1222 Library Street in Detroit.