Chopt: Charlottesville Chopt Salad Yumminess

Kebab CobbRESTAURANT:  Chop’t Creative Salad Company

DATE OF VISIT: 8/15/17 (Second Day of Opening)

ADDRESS: Barracks Road Shopping Center (1117 Emmet Street, Charlottesville, VA 22903)

GENRE: Salad

AFFORDABILITY: Most of the entrees are around $10. I wouldn’t necessarily call it cheap, but the quantity is filling and the variety of options is really nice.

PARKING: Plenty of parking around Barracks Shopping Center

VENUE: Chop’t just had its grand opening a few days ago. If you’ve ever been to a Chopt in DC or NYC, the first thing you will notice is that this Charlottesville Chopt is MASSIVE. Definitely a different experience than you would have if you have been to one in a city. There is seating outside and inside there are several tables and booths as well. Everything is very clean and sleek and the fabric in the booths was really nice too. The only potentially confusing part is that a lot of people may enter from the side door and not the main entrance.

From my experience and observations, the restaurant seemed LGBTQ+ and POC friendly.

GENERAL: The minute we walked in we were greeted by someone explaining how ordering works and the menu. Another employee also checked up on us while in line and the manager did twice: in line and also while we were dining. Multiple employees came by to pick up our finished dishes while we were dining or to ask if we wanted more free bread. Even while ordering, employees would always ask if we wanted more sauce or our salad chopped more finely. Everyone was super friendly and it was a great first impression to have of the restaurant.

chopt options

So many fresh options!

How it works is you can make your own salad or choose one of the many preset combinations. They will put the salad materials in a bowl and hand you a ticket (that you later hand to the cashier when you pay) and will then lead you to a chopping station.

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My Kebab Cobb, waiting to be “Chopt”

At the chopping station they slice-and-dice your salad however fine you would like it (don’t have to chop it if you don’t want) and add the dressing.

chopt gif

Chop chop chop chop chop!!

At the cash register, at least that day, they were giving out free pieces of bread. Again, everyone was super friendly.

THE FOOD: I ordered the Kebab Cobb because I love Tzatziki and Pita Chips and Feta in my salads. I got it double chopped (in my opinion, the more chopped the better, I was just too excited to eat to get it even more chopped) and with extra Tzatziki. It was absolutely delicious. Mixed well you would get a little bit of every flavor in every bite, which is the advantage of the chopping. And the flavors were definitely strong. The rich Tazatziki balanced out the spicy peppers really well and the Pita Chips added a nice crunch – a much appreciated change in texture to the rest of the salad. I definitely 100% recommend. Especially if you love the “El Jefe” at Roots. Very different from the El Jefe, but it has the pita chips and feta which will remind you of it.

My friends also enjoyed their salads, the Smoky Santa Cruz and Spicy Santorini (pictures below)

ACCOMODATIONS: You can customize to your heart’s content. They have so many different add-ins and options. Just let them know you have food restrictions and they will work with you.

OVERALL: I always think when you get to watch your food being made, the experience is heightened. That mantra stayed true at this restaurant. Tasty food, decent price, decent portions, friendly employees. I couldn’t ask for much more.

A lot of local college students may be wondering “how does it compare to Roots?” I think they are both different. While they have some overlap in selling salad based food, I think the chopped salad experience and the options are just very different from what you find at Roots.

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Monster Roll Ice Cream: Rolled Ice Cream Bliss that won’t Break the Bank

monster roll main

RESTAURANT:  Monster Roll Ice Cream

DATE OF VISIT: 7/30/17 (Second Day of Opening)

ADDRESS: Fair Oaks Mall in Fair Lakes, Fairfax, VA – 2nd floor between Sears and Auntie Anne’s (Across Finish Line and Journey’s)

GENRE: Ice Cream (Thai Ice Cream/Rolled Ice Cream)

AFFORDABILITY: $5.95 per ice cream order with up to 3 toppings and unlimited drizzles. Sounds sort of pricey, but the quantity is good, and it really isn’t that much more expensive than Coldstone’s or Ben & Jerry’s. Also, it’s a little bit cheaper than what you would get from similar restaurants in New York City.

PARKING: Plenty of parking around the mall.

Monster Roll venue

One side of the venue

VENUE: Monster Roll just had its grand opening two days ago after two weeks of a soft opening. It’s a sleek grab’n’go ice cream place with a small bench on the side of the wall that can seat a few people. There are also three viewing stations to watch the employees make your rolled ice cream, which was cool (everyone had their phones out recording the experience). It was really sleek and new but I was slightly disappointed that the venue wasn’t bigger and there wasn’t more seating, as there isn’t immediate seating outside the venue either. I don’t think the layout was the most efficient use of space in terms of flow of purchasing, watching, waiting, and seating. Perhaps a bigger location would have been better. But it still worked out well enough!

From my experience and observations, the restaurant seemed LGBTQ+ and POC friendly.

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Rolled perfection!

GENERAL: Overall I was very impressed. It does take a few minutes for your ice cream to be made, but you get to watch it happen which is part of the experience you are paying for. Lines moved quickly and they had plenty of employees to make sure everything was running smoothly.

I think there can be some trickiness in terms of ordering the right toppings and drizzles. Some toppings and drizzles go better with some flavors than others. Flavors ranged from Smores and Oreos to fruitier ones like Strawberry to more Asian ones like Thai Tea, Green Tea/Matcha, and Lychee.

A lot of people are also going here for the Instagram picture. Because there really is no set formula to how the toppings and drizzle are added as there is so much variability to each order, the ice creams themselves may not have the most artistic appearance (something other Ice Cream stores like Iron Ice pride themselves on – I actually moved around the pocky sticks in my above picture to make the photo a little more interesting). Some orders may look empty and others messy. Not necessarily a drawback, but just something to keep in mind when ordering if you are doing it for the Instagram.

THE FOOD: I will admit I ordered something I thought would picture well, but it also happened to taste amazing which was a huge plus.

I ordered the Strawberry Lane ice cream (Strawberry-Blueberry ice cream) with Pocky Sticks, fresh strawberries, and fruity pebbles as my toppings and both strawberry drizzle and whipped cream as my drizzles.

 

 

It was super awesome to watch them make it, crushing fresh strawberries and blueberries, getting me more and more excited to eat it. When I took my first bite, I was genuinely surprised. It tasted really really good! First and foremost, it was fresh, which is a huge plus. I think the strawberry drizzle and fruity pebbles really paired well with the Strawberry Lane flavor – wasn’t too sweet but still hit the sweet spot. The ice cream wasn’t too hard and the texture was light and fairly fluffy, which was really nice. The fruity pebbles added a nice crunch that wasn’t too sweet either while another nice texture to the overall experience.

The Pocky sticks really didn’t add anything to the ice cream, but the Pocky along with the fruity pebbles made for a really colorful and dynamic picture.

Monster Roll 1

My Mom’s Cheesecake Flavor with Graham Crackers, Strawberries, Blueberries and Strawberry Drizzle

I also tried the Lychee and Cheesecake flavors. Both tasted good, not as good as the combo I described above, but definitely still good. The ice cream is high quality, which I really appreciated.

ACCOMODATIONS: Had options that didn’t contain either chocolates or fruit or nuts.

OVERALL: Fun experience to watch freshly made Thai Rolled Ice Cream made in front of you and tasted delicious too! Honestly couldn’t ask for much more than perhaps some closer seating. I definitely recommend trying it at least once!

I personally think the fruitier and more Asian flavors will be easier to match toppings and drizzles with, so if you are unsure, go with one of those flavors!