The Westin Cincinnati
21 E. 5th Street
Cincinnati, OH 45202
|Hours:||Mon – Fri: 6 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Sat & Sun: 7 a.m. – 4 p.m.
|Price Range:||Salads: $6-9
Breakfast Bagels, Panninis and Cereals: $1-9
It’s been a long time since I have been to Ingredients – not since I worked in Downtown (~1 year ago) so it was a surprise when we got an email from them telling us that they were to serve their millionth customer this week. Millionth – that’s a lot of customers. Anyways they invited us to come review them and, also, gave us a $20 gift card for one lucky reader! (See below to find out how you can win)
I was happy to bring Adam along for the trip as he has not yet been to Ingredients. Being a veteran of the establishment, and since I didn’t want any grains, I already knew what I was going to have. However, he had no clue what they offered much less what he wanted.
So, we both waited in line for the build-your-own salads. They also offer pre-made sandwiches, paninis, bagels, small pizzas as well as other sides. But I think where they shine most is in their salads. It’s always a long line at lunch hour – but thanks to the efficiency of their assembly-line you are in and out in a flash.
I got the crisp romaine with carrots, feta, olives, onion and jalapeño peppers. More than 5 ingredients is an extra $0.50 each, so we both stopped at 5. I topped it off with blackened chicken and oil and vinegar. Adam ordered Romaine with feta, egg, artichoke hearts, avocado and tomatoes, then topped with steak and ranch dressing.
A small point, but one I found quite entertaining was that as we were ordering, I was taking pictures of the ingredient selection, a few shots of the area it is in, and some of the menu itself above so that we’d be able to remember what we ordered, and so that I would be able to figure out average prices for each item. At first I didn’t notice but then I could hear behind me someone faintly saying “you can’t take no pictures” but I didn’t acknowledge it as the person saying it did not actually say it to me but rather they just said it aloud. I was a bit entertained that the salad-makers weren’t pleased at my taking pictures as if I were a health inspector.
We were in and out in less than 5 minutes even though the line was rather long. Adam nabbed a couple hard-boiled eggs while we waited in line to pay, and then we were off to find a seat… Unfortunately all the tables were full, so we ate upstairs in the Westin Lobby.
The first thing we noticed as we were eating was the quality of our salads – every item we had chosen was just delicious from the romaine leaves to the kalamata olives (my favorite!) to the cheese. The ranch he ordered was delicious and had a nice coating on all of the leaves. I liked mine with oil and vinegar, however I couldn’t help but feel like it was just completely drenched in it. I watched as the final person in line put the dressings on and I felt compelled to tell her to stop halfway but she wasn’t looking at me anyways. The salad still came out good, but just not as good as it could have.
An observation that Adam had was that the whole process itself is great for those who know what is offered and what they want, however he said the salad-makers seemed impatient with how slow he ordered. However, the personalization of each salad and the amount of options made it worth the wait. Really, the only thing that held Ingredients back from a 4 out of 5 plate rating was the service.
Which brings me to the gift we have for our readers: a $20 gift card to Ingredients! It’s easy – just follow us on Twitter @OneCleanPlate and we will pick one random follower on January 1st.
So what’s your favorite item at Ingredients? Salad? Brick oven pizzas? Do you have a favorite place downtown for good, healthy food? Let us know in the comments! We love getting to know what our readers think – don’t be shy!
As usual, we’ve got a lot of pictures we took for this article (37!) and despite choosing only the best pictures to post, we still had too many for the site. Check out the rest of the pictures on Facebook!
Disclaimer: Yes, we were contacted by a representative from Ingredients inviting us to visit the restaurant and review it. We paid for the meal ourselves and we did not let them know in advance exactly when we’d be coming. They did, however, provide the $20 gift card we are giving out.
Verdict: A Good, Healthy but Slightly Expensive Lunch
While the staff can seem a bit impatient and unfriendly at times, overall the process of ordering and personalizing your lunch is pleasant and very much worth it. The ingredients themselves are fresh and taste absolutely delicious. The variety of items you can choose is also fantastic so you could have a totally new salad each time you ordered – or stay safe and choose your favorites. It comes with a hefty price tag though, for a salad with a non-premium meat it’s $7.50 – which is a lot for a salad. But, I suppose it’s the price one pays for one of the healthiest meals you’ll have out.