Although we usually try to eat during the work week, there are some nights when we feel the need to make our lives easier by grabbing take-out. The criteria for weeknight take out include fast, healthy and inexpensive and it is sometimes a challenge to find a options that fit all three of the above. My go-to is typically Whole Foods (yes, it is in fact possible to get relatively affordable prepared meals here if you know how to go about it) but tonight, Hubby came up with a new idea. He suggested we try Tractor, a new cafeteria-style joint on West 4th that claims to offer "everyday healthy food", including salads, sandwiches, soups and stews. They offer lean meats and fish, and also a variety of vegetarian and vegan options. The website claims that they use local, organic ingredients when possible, and in scanning through the menu, there are many ingredients that are found locally and seasonally around Vancouver right now.
In keeping with their cafeteria-style approach, service was fairly speedy. Salads are picked up immediately on ordering and we waited about 5 minutes for our sandwich (including grilling time). Prices may be seen as slightly steep, although the ingredients are of good quality and the three salads that I ordered, although they initially appeared small, made quite a decent meal, especially followed by a cookie (see below)! They also offer pretty cool little take-out containers for salads which I will definitely be keeping for lunches:)
The room is very pleasant. Decor is simple with lots of wood, giving it a rustic feel. There are large coolers of water in the back with cucumber and lemon mixed in, which is a nice touch.
Hubby had the jicama and citrus salad and the chicken sandwich. While he was not a huge fan of the salad (more of a personal preference as it was his first time trying jicama and he discovered that he is not a fan), he loved the sandwich. It was made with thinly-sliced organic chicken from a local farm, topped with fennel, basil and provolone and served on cranberry bread. Hubby is quite a "sandwich connaisseur" (he can really appreciate a good sandwich!) and this one hit a home run for him.
I chose three salads from their extensive salad bar, which includes a impressively unique salad options. No iceberg lettuce or mayonnaise-soaked vegetables to be found, thank goodness!
My first selection was the kale and apple salad with a white balsamic vinaigrette. the kale took held the dressing well, giving it a great flavour. The apples were a bit tart and a nice contrasting taste, but I would have liked to see them cut up into smaller chunks or even julienned. Overall, very good flavour and a great preparation of a very healthy "superfood". I even saw kids munching away at it while waiting for our takeout!
My second salad choice was the cauliflower and yukon potato salad with capers, sundried tomato and tarragon vinaigrette. Again, this was an incredibly flavourful salad which was quite hearty. And no heavy mayo to be found! I have no idea how they prepared the potatoes, but they were super tender. If I had one criticism it would be that the salad was a tad oily. Also, it is quite salty with the capers and tomatoes, so you may want to avoid this one if you are trying to avoid salt. I am a salt lover so I loved it:)
My last choice was one of their protein salads, the Albacore tuna salad with cucumber, avocado, pickled onion and sesame vinaigrette (note that these are double the price of the vegetable salads). The tuna beautifully cooked (rare), the chunks of avocado added wonderful creaminess and the pickled onions gave a bit of bite. Again, this was a hearty salad that was worth the extra cost in my mind. Unique and delicious!
As we were ordering, we saw sheets of cookies going into the oven and asked what they were. They were the double chocolate and pistachio cookies (gluten-free), which you MUST try, no matter if you are gluten intolerant or not (we aren't). Although they may not be all that visually appealing, these little babies are insanely good. They are pretty tiny, and are a lovely little bite after your meal.
I must thank Hubby for such a wonderful suggestion for take-out on a late weekday night. Tractor is everything that you could want- fast, healthy, locally-sourced and tasty. I am very glad to have such a great stand-by after a long day. Hopefully it will not make me too lazy a cook!
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