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Dining Out: Salads with a difference

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Craig Stevens didn’t know anything about acai bowls until he was visiting New York City with his brother, Thomas Curtin, and they found them at a restaurant.

“He tasted one and said, ‘This is it! It’s just like the ones in Hawaii,’” said Stevens.

With that taste and a lot of research and experimentation he began creating his own bowls, which became the basis of the menu for the brothers’ new restaurant, Salads Smoothies Bowls, in Lambertville, N.J.

Pairing smoothies with the bowls was a natural, he said, so he developed smoothie recipes as well. He starts with a passionfruit base, and has crafted two house recipes: strawberry-banana with Nutella and blueberry-mango with honey.

He also will adjust the recipes to accommodate the customer and will add anything that he has in the house, including almond milk, protein powder or additional fruits.

With the addition of the milk or protein powder the 20-ounce smoothie becomes a meal, he said.

For the acai bowls he starts with a granola base, topping that with a dragonfruit puree, then adds a variety of fruits and a finishing swirl of honey, peanut butter or Nutella.

He developed salads to offer customers a heartier option when they are in search of a meal. He starts with a base of one of spring mix, romaine or arugula, then builds it up with four toppings and at least one protein such as chicken salad or cheeses. A roll comes with the meal.

Stevens describes his salads as oversized; “I wanted to create a really hearty salad where you are full after eating,” he said.

Soups and coffee are planned in the near future, and Stevens hasn’t forgotten dessert. He soon will offer keto cheesecakes from Maddalena’s of Ringoes.

Stevens said he took his time opening the restaurant, which debuted about a month ago, training staff and finding local farms where he could buy produce. The brothers renovated the restaurant and decorated it to include a large community table they built themselves, and a comfortable lounge area where customers can sit with their computers and eat or sip their meals.

While SSB is his first smoothie and bowl restaurant, Stevens has a long history in the business. He started working in restaurants when he was 14, and has launched and worked at a variety of eateries including pizzerias, sub shops and Water’s Edge in Bayville, Ocean Gate, N.J.

In the future the brothers plan to open at least one more SSB, possibly in Bucks County.


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