With a slogan of “Eat fresh, Live well,” it is easy to see that JJ’s Salades Etc (https://www.jjssalades.com/contact-us) is on track to become West-End Montreal’s premier salad and sandwich hot spot.
Located in the medical district on Côte des Neiges Road, between Linton and de la Peltrie, JJ’s has a healthy variety of all-homemade options. Their fresh produce, dressings, juices and dessert snacks will surely please those seeking a healthy meal at a great price.
The salad bar starts at $10 while the eight prepared salads run from $8.50 to $11.50. There are six sandwich choices between $6 and $7, including grilled veggie and bocconcini, brie and apples, oven roasted turkey or chicken, gravlax or tuna. There are homemade soups and desserts such as spinach brownies, granola bars and Greek yogurt parfait.
I dropped by for lunch the other day and met up with my friend and fellow foodie, Mike. I started off with the mushroom soup while Mike had the broccoli pepper soup. Mine was steaming hot, “double boiled,” as my father says. The minced mushrooms made for a delicious starter on a cold winter’s day. Mike described his portion as the best broccoli soup he had ever had! In fact, it was the first bowl of broccoli soup he had ever tried and it exceeded his expectations.
Tempted by the descriptive menu, boasting of brown rice, romaine, broccoli, carrots avocado, cucumbers, mandarin oranges and sesame seeds drizzled with a homemade tamari dressing, I opted for the Shanghai Salad. The serving was plentiful and my taste buds were quite pleased with the fresh produce and hints of Asian sweetness. I also had the oven roasted turkey on multigrain ciabatta. The bun was flat and lightly toasted while the lettuce and tomatoes were fresh and crisp.
Mike chose the Kerri Kobb Salad and salmon gravlax special. The salad was packed with romaine and spring mix, hard boiled egg, avocado, cherry tomatoes, green onion, bacon and pita chips, with a balsamic vinaigrette. The sandwich was served on bagel with cream cheese, tomato and red onion. He was very satisfied with his meal.
We sampled the fresh fruit juice that was packed with flavours of pineapple, peach and a hint of lemon. The spinach brownies were unique and capped off a great lunch.
Everything is homemade and fresh produce brought in daily. Any products not made in-house are sourced and vetted from distinguished and highest quality vendors.
There was a steady stream of clients lining up to order, mostly for takeout. They were served with a smile by partners John Cusmariu, Jonathan Saxe and (hence JJ’s) and chef Matthew Kovitz, who has previously served as the grill master at the legendary Moishe’s Steakhouse.
Cusmariu indicated that he and his partners share a concern for the environment and therefore their kitchen contributes minimal scraps that enter landfill, and the little waste that they do produce is either composted or recycled. All the packaging is compostable or recyclable and they offer three stream waste collection in the restaurant.
JJ’s has already gained a solid reputation for its catering side.
“Jon and I have been wanting to do a concept like this for a very long time,” said Cusmariu. “We both have an entrepreneurial spirit and have a passion for the food industry. An opportunity to open a restaurant in this medical building came up and we felt it was too good to pass up. There was a void in the marketplace in the area for this kind of cuisine and we were determined to make this a success.”
Cusmariu and Saxe have known each other for a long time, having met through mutual friends many years ago. “We knew that we needed a chef and restaurant consultant, an expert in the industry to round out our team,” Cusmariu notes. “So we were introduced to Matt Kovitz and the synergy was immediate. We became fast friends in addition to business partners. Matt was an integral part in developing the concept and creating a delicious menu. While we were working on the opening details and the renovation of the restaurant, most of which Jon and Matt did with their own hands, we launched the catering side of the business and started doing everything from corporate/business lunches and private parties to life cycle events.”
The response from clients has been excellent. “We’ve heard many comments about how the area really needed a restaurant like this and how much they really enjoy the food,” said Cusmariu. “Clients are so happy to learn about us and they keep coming back again and again.”
By Glenn J. Nashen