MICHELLE XU/THE HOYA The much-anticipated salad restaurant, Hilltoss, is gearing up for its grand opening. Preview tastings suggest that The Corp is turning out fresh salads that satisfy in a convenient location.
MICHELLE XU/THE HOYA
The much-anticipated salad restaurant, Hilltoss, is gearing up for its grand opening. Preview tastings suggest that The Corp is turning out fresh salads that satisfy in a convenient location.

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The Corp’s latest venture, Hilltoss, is by no means a new concept at Georgetown — Hoyas already frequent Salad Creations and Sweetgreen for their made-on-the-spot salads. Quick-service salad restaurants like these employ the same basic system: the customer chooses the ingredients and watches as they’re tossed together. It’s popular because it’s fast, healthy and customizable. Don’t like cheese? Leave it out! Craving croutons? Ask for extra! The possibilities are endless.

The Hilltoss space, located within the Healey Family Student Center, is brand new and pretty bare. Once the store opens, I’m sure it will be busy with students lining up to see if it meets expectations. There are larger tables that seat up to six people and a bar-style table where you can enjoy your salad solo.  Still, the overall atmosphere is very casual and sociable. If you’re looking for a place to grab lunch and get some school work done, Hilltoss is not for you — there isn’t an abundance of tables, nor is there a lot of space at each table. It is, however, an ideal place to visit with fellow salad-loving friends while enjoying a quick bite.

My first selection was the Brutus ($8.75), which featured kale and mesclun tossed with cherry tomatoes, lemon pepper chicken, parmesan, croutons, lemon squeeze, and asiago peppercorn dressing. The salad was very well-coordinated and overall enjoyable. Its only flaw was the overpowering taste of lemon. In combination with the lemon pepper chicken, the lemon squeeze added a sour twist to an otherwise creamy salad. This acidic zing was not necessarily unpleasant, but at the next opportunity I would definitely request that they use only a quarter of the citric fruit, not an entire half. The chicken was flavorful; again, its only flaw was that the lemony taste added too much sour to what was supposed to add umami. That said, the asiago peppercorn dressing was thick and creamy, and offered a good balance to the lemon.

The Far East Movement ($9), is, as its name suggests, an Asian-inspired salad. It had kale and mesclun as the base, and was tossed with oranges, sesame seeds, green onions, ginger spiced tofu, garlic broccoli, red cabbage and ginger mandarin dressing. The first few bites were very well balanced, but as I got to the bottom, the dressing ran thin and I was essentially munching on plain vegetables. This was the only salad that I tried which seemed to have this issue, so make sure you ask that your salad is mixed well if you want to avoid eating bare veggies towards the end. The ginger spiced tofu was small and chewy. I am usually a fan of tofu in salad because it adds a nice change in texture but in this case, I was disappointed by how chewy, rather than firm, it was. The mandarin oranges added a sweet element to an otherwise savory salad, but the dressing did not mesh too well with the orange flavor. There was a very distinct line between the savory dressing and the sweet oranges and the combination of the two clashed strangely.

The best of the specialty salads was the Jay Gatsby ($8). In two words, the Jay Gatsby was summery and sweet. With spinach as its base, the Jay Gatsby incorporates strawberries, avocado, goat cheese, walnuts, lemon and a blush wine vinaigrette into a fantastically balanced salad. The Jay Gatsby manages to balance out this sweet flavor profile flawlessly. The strawberries were scrumptiously sweet, and walnuts added crunch and substance. This salad boasts the perfect harmony of sweet, tangy and creamy. If you have the opportunity to stop by Hilltoss, this would be my recommendation.

The Amalfi Coast ($8.50) is the simplest salad on offer, combining mozzarella, tomatoes and quinoa on a bed of greens. Dressed with balsamic vinegar and olive oil, it’s far from spectacular, but balances out some of the more complex and unusual options on the menu. Two classics also feature on the menu, including the Liberty Cobb ($9.75) and a greek salad called the Parthenon ($9). Neither salad stands out as anything wildly special, but they are satisfying staples nonetheless.

All the salads come with an optional side of rosemary garlic focaccia. The very distinct rosemary flavor seemed to overpower the garlic, but the bread itself is moist and flavorful. It’s a delightful addition to any crunchy salad. If you are getting your meal to-go, try warming up the bread at home for an even better experience.

While the salads and the ingredients were of high quality, it’s clear that the restaurant is just opening and staff is still learning. They hadn’t yet memorized the menu salads and the assembling of ingredients could be streamlined. Still, for a new staff of students, the quality of service was good.

Overall, all of the specialty salads offered were very well-balanced in texture and taste. Of course, the open bar of ingredients means that you can create your own combination of greens, add-ons and dressings. If you aren’t up for the challenge of choosing the perfect blend of ingredients for a salad, their specialty salads are generally tasty — just ask for modifications if you want them.

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