We tried all 11 new salads and bowls at this popular restaurant (PHOTOS)

Dec 20 2019, 10:37 am

When the thought of grabbing a snack with friends after work comes to mind, so likely does the inevitable association with pub fare, in all of its calorie-filled glory.

While there’s always a time and place for the comfort of such dishes, most of us (try to) strive for balance. We want the health-conscious choices, without compromising the vibe of a high-energy place to watch the game, shake off the day, or socialize.

Helping the cause, Jack Astor’s Bar and Grill has diversified their menu with the recent launch of 11 jam-packed, colourful, and easy-on-the-eyes bowls and salads. The fresh, lighter — but still hearty — options are available at Jack Astor’s locations across the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) and Montreal and will be rolled out in all restaurants across Canada in January in 2020.

New menu offerings/Jack Astors

The new items start at just under $11 and join an assortment of vegetarian and gluten-free dishes on the menu.

Jack Astor’s Vice President of Culinary, Gordon Mackie, and his Executive Chef of Menu Development, Jun Geem, handcrafted the 11 new internationally inspired menu items, including eight bowls and three salads.

Dietary restrictions are welcome, and guests can customize their meal to suit their lifestyle, with the option to add an assortment of low-fat proteins or go vegetarian. The new menu options start at just 490 calories.

We hit up the iconic Canadian restaurant brand to try the new items out for ourselves — all 11 of them. As tasty as they are photogenic, the new additions (which have already become quick crowd-pleasers since their debut) incorporate an array of flavours and textures and are deliciously filling.

New menu/Jack Astors

The common theme among the bright and vibrant new additions is that each is filled with no less than nine unique, fresh ingredients, and all reflect globally inspired flavours. Think gochujang, coconut curry, sweet and sour plum dressing, taro root, and sweet soy-marinated tuna poke, to name a few ingredients.

Tuna Poke Bowl/Jack Astors

In terms of the other bowls, the highlights really come down to a matter of personal taste. Our favourites included the fresher-than-fresh Tuna Poke Bowl (with sweet soy-marinated tuna poké, mango, avocado, and pickled ginger), the flavour-packed Thai Coconut Curry Bowl (think seasoned jasmine rice, yellow Thai coconut curry sauce, roasted turmeric cauliflower, and miso-covered vegetables), and the Korean Rice Bowl (piled high with fresh kale, avocado, onion chips, and a soft boiled egg).

Thai Coconut Curry Bowl/Jack Astors

The salads are loaded with goodness. These include the Buddha Salad (arugula, mixed greens and vegetables, goat cheese, and honey dijon vinaigrette), Fiesta Salad (avocado, black beans, corn, grape tomatoes, salsa verde, and crispy corn tortillas), and the Harvest Salad (fresh kale, quinoa, chickpeas, roasted turmeric cauliflower, and honey Dijon vinaigrette).

All are made even more protein-packed with the addition of Roasted Chicken or the Sweet & Spicy Tofu. It’s the kind of food that makes you feel ready to conquer the day, not crash on the couch.

Pink Bubble Bowl/Jack Astors

The 11 new bowls and salads are Jack Astor’s biggest menu innovation to-date and are a game-changer for more health-conscious eaters or the professionals looking for a hearty lunch to fuel their afternoon.

Speaking of lunch, if you can’t quite finish your meal, definitely ask for a to-go container; as we discovered first-hand, some of the bowls — like the comforting Pad Thai Noodle Bowl (which rivals any local Thai spot) and the satisfyingly sweet Honey Sesame Stir-Fry — taste just as good the next day.

Hungry yet? Find a Jack Astor’s location near you to try the new menu for yourself!