Mad Greens comes up maddeningly short in Cherry Creek

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J. Wohletz
The Crazy Ivan salad at Mad Greens.
I learned about Mad Greens, the Denver-based, salad-serving fast-casual chain shortly after I moved to Denver. I spotted one of the stores on the 16th Street Mall, and figured the eatery catered to on-the-go, single health nuts and people who made lunch dates for reasons other than eating. So naturally, I passed it by.

But one day recently, I finally stopped in at the Mad Greens location in Cherry Creek. I won't make that mistake again.

See also:
- Mad Greens keeps growing
- Mad Greens tosses out custom salads perfect for vegetarians and vegans
- Veggie Girl: MAD Greens

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J. Wohletz
The Ty Cobb salad at Mad Greens.
Mad Greens was planted in the south suburbs -- the first location was near Park Meadows Mall -- in 2004 by business partners Marley Hodgson and Dan Long. There are currently eleven locations along the Front Range, with out-of-state expansion plans that have yet to sprout.

The concept behind Mad Greens isn't bad: quick-fast-in-a-hurry, healthy meals offered in a clean-but-spartan environment should appeal to a decent-sized demographic of young, hip, health-conscious (there are vegan and vegetarian options) urban diners. But how this concept plays out in real life is maddening.

When I walked into the store during a post-lunch lull, the place was hideously unclean. Almost all the tables were dirty, and there were wadded napkins, bits of croutons and lettuce scattered on the tables, the chairs, the benches and the floors. Except for two employees manning the counter, the restaurant was deserted.

The menu features every conceivable salad combination, as well as a CYO salad for folks who want what they want but want someone else to craft it for them -- cool and convenient. The list of available proteins includes marinated grilled or crispy chicken, marinated tuna, portobello mushrooms and tofu, flank steak and salmon -- all for a $2 to $3 upcharge. You can top the salad with dressings ranging from the standard ranch/bleu cheese/Italian/French lot to lemon-curry, cherry vinaigrette, horseradish ranch, roasted red pepper and sherry-molasses vinaigrette. Toppings are the usual suspects, plus quite a few fresh choices like cannellini beans, mangoes, sugar snap peas, pears, edamame and couscous with dried fruit.

I ordered a big Crazy Ivan salad with baby greens, roasted beets, pumpkin seeds, house croutons and goat cheese, and added portobello mushrooms with sherry-molasses vinaigrette, as well as a regular-sized Ty Cobb with romaine lettuce, avocado, tomatoes, bacon, red onion and eggs, with bleu cheese dressing, and added salmon, with bleu cheese dressing. And I went for a small bowl of Italian wedding soup -- the de jour for that day.


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Mad Greens

222 Columbine St., Denver, CO

Category: Restaurant

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36 comments
jenna-furrr
jenna-furrr

One of the most important things, IMO about reviewing chains is that I think many of them don't expect to be reviewed, and sometimes when these chains expand, important things and details slip through cracks, and it takes a "wakey wakey, eggs and baccy!" moment--like a less-than-stellar review to get the ball rolling on improvements. Complacency is the death of many things, and a good concept like Mad Greens can't be immune to criticism, especially if it wants to be competitive in an ever-flooding market.


It is known. : )

mediamgt1
mediamgt1

You know it alls have a lot to say with your insults and accusations.  Funny, you don't seem to have anything to back it up.  I've never spent a single moment as a PR hack for Mad Greens or anyone else.  I am informed and willing to back up what I say. 

IloveNYC
IloveNYC

This review is more than fair in my opinion. 

Mad Greens wants to go big - they really believe that by smiling at people and training your employees to act friendly will be enough to make them successful.

This chain is just boring. 

Nothing is organic besides maybe some bottled drinks, the soups are thawed then squeezed out of plastic bags, the focus for this chain is profit above all. They also make there own dressings! = seasoned mayonnaise

You can do much better at any other restaurant that meets health codes. Its telling when you consider that Smashburger which  is also a Denver startup has more than 200 stores even though there menu is nothing special and started 3 years after Mad Greens who still only have 11 stores. I bet the owners of Mad Greens are dying to sell this business quickly as more people are noticing  how bad it really is.


Why_Bother
Why_Bother

"And I went for a small bowl of Italian wedding soup -- the de jour for that day."  

Translated, that sentence reads:

"And I went for a small bowl of Italian wedding soup -- the of the day for that day." 

This is a poorly-written review of a lackluster chain restaurant we all know sucks; there are no winners here.

joannejsimms
joannejsimms

Not a very representative review. Madgreens is one of the best places in town for a great healthy reasonably-priced meal. I am a salad person and my experience has always been nothing but positive. You can always find fault with any place you eat at but the criticism here is totally unwarranted. I will continue to go to this restaurant with my family and friends. Plus I love their allergy menus! 

dil95
dil95

Our family has frequented several Madgreens locations over the past many years and our experience has been just the opposite of what Jenn (the reviewer) has described. We have always found the food to be fresh, very tasty and the staff has always been very enthusiastic and friendly. Jenn has portrayed the place as "hole in the wall" type of place. Shame on you, Jenn. Maybe you had a bad personal bitch day when you visited the place that made you write this kind of a review. The price of $30 for two salads, soups and drinks is pretty average these days-you would have paid about the same anywhere quality food is served-probably a lot more at Whole Foods. Wake up to the real world, Jenn!

Guest
Guest

The mad greens on16th mall is seriously nasty. Bad sandwiches, salads that are old tasting. Greens is better if you are downtown. Mod market rocks, but not an option if you are not eating on So Colo blvd

Bunn
Bunn

Seriously, Four Leaf is awesome. Choppy-Choppy!

rawdoggin
rawdoggin

This review feels right based on my experience at the Lakewood location off Union.  I work in the area, and have been on four different occasions in the past year and a half.  On each visit, the dining area was messy and bordering on dirty.  There is always an ancillary line of confused customers trying to decipher the maddening (pun intended) array of options.  This group delayed and frustrated those who had been before.  Incidentally, that experienced population appeared to be minimal as everyone within earshot of myself had to ask at least a pair of clarifying questions on exactly how to order their goddamn lunch.  Once you decide on which selection of menu items least challenged your idea of what a decent salad should look like (I enjoy nuts in moderation while dining...<insert joke here>), you have to reiterate your choice to at least two employees doing the food assembly, not to mention once you arrive at the register.  Bill settled, you have the task of consuming, thanks to aggressive dressing, what feels in your mouth like what comes from raking your yard after a heavy snow, replete with composted leaves, twigs and debris.  The portions are generous and the flavors can, at times, be interesting, but for a $12 lunch, I have been enjoying the newly installed ModMarket or I simply drive an extra 5 minutes to Frijoles and get a great Cuban sandwich and coffee. 

Diana Oppy
Diana Oppy

I like Choppers, the downtown location. Still a bit pricey but cleaner, great options and they chop all your ingredients up and shake it in a bowl! My new favorite "fast food" salad place!

Crystal Vales
Crystal Vales

Mad Greens is overpriced. And as we can see not that great that so much is outsourced. The quality of the ingredients is less than that of Whole Foods.

fooddude
fooddude

Totally in love with MadGreens. I crave it. Friendly people, great service, amazing AND fresh food from from local farms, delicious dressings without going to "Whole Paycheck" around the corner and fighting all the Cherry Creek yuppies.

I'll always return to MadGreens. I'm hard to impress with food yet MadGreens continues to impress me insomuch that I automatically invite friends and coworkers to check it out.

gftw
gftw

Fuck salad!

mediamgt1
mediamgt1

I'm hearthsick about this review.  Not only have I had great food at this location, but I've been in 2 of their focus groups, and know they are trying to become the best.  I am really confused about the soups. At least some are from scratch.  My portions have always been generous and the dressings are extraordinary.  Part of the expense comes as the result of Madgreens' commitment to using local farms and organic vegetables.  This is a wonderful, socially conscious company with two remarkable owners. 

Fletcherneedsajob
Fletcherneedsajob topcommenter

Four Leaf down in the tech center is MUCH better.

MegsinDen
MegsinDen

I find the salads at either Cafe Options or Green to be much better for the price.

ScubaSteve
ScubaSteve topcommenter

I'm glad I read this review because I was thinking of trying the Mad Greens in the shopping center on Colorado Blvd and Evans.  I'll cross that place off of my restaurant food bucket list.

ScubaSteve
ScubaSteve topcommenter

@IloveNYC 

"there own dressings", "there menu".  The correct word is "their".  "Their own dressings".  "Their menu."

rawdoggin
rawdoggin

@Why_Bother For a chain that has less than a dozen locations across the entire Front Range, mathematical odds are that "we all" don't necessarily know Mad Greens "sucks".  And I for one appreciated what I'm assuming was an homage to Dumb and Dumber.  Perhaps you should consider the question contained in your user name next you decide to post.

jenna-furrr
jenna-furrr

@Why_Bother Oh c'mon--I thought it was funny! Apparently I was the only one.....#Jennhumorfail

jenna-furrr
jenna-furrr

@dil95 Nope--no personal bitch that day, and I have no personal bitch about Mad Greens--the company just has some deets to work on is all.

jenna-furrr
jenna-furrr

@Crystal Vales Based on what I saw at this location, I'm inclined to agree with you, but I have every hope and wish that Mad Greens will make some improvements, because it definitely has the potential to be much better, just based on the business model, which I think is tight. : )

tada
tada

@mediamgt1 This comment could not possibly be more of hired gun PR hack comment.  Do you really think this comment convinces anyone that Jenn is wrong in her review?  You clearly are their hired PR flack, not just someone who has "happened" to be part of a couple of focus groups.

jenna-furrr
jenna-furrr

@mediamgt1 I agree about the owners' very supportive social deeds being on record, but I'm thinking they may need to take a closer look at the state of that particular store, and look into making the salads a bit more bulky for the prices. : )

jenna-furrr
jenna-furrr

@rawdoggin @Why_Bother See! rawdoggin' gets it! It was still a bad joke, though, I will admit. But ya can't please everyone, and some days I can't even please myself. : )

Why_Bother
Why_Bother

@rawdoggin Right... I'm sure it was a witty and timely allusion to a comedy released almost two decades ago and not a fumbled attempt at French by a woman who eats garbage for a living. I'd almost suspect you're the author by the irritating way in which you begin sentences with the word "and", but your post doesn't contain enough lazy, hyphenated words.

rawdoggin
rawdoggin

@jenna-furrr @Why_Bother Speaking of inappropriate hyphenation, I can only assume that using "poorly-written" in the initial post was a subtle form of grammar humor or @Why_Bother  is unaware of the irony.

jenna-furrr
jenna-furrr

@Why_Bother I hate to bust you right in your eagle eyes, but he's not the author--I am. I find hyphenated words to be fun, fresh and creative. Take butt-barfing for example. That is just a fun word, with so many uses.

rawdoggin
rawdoggin

@Why_BotherWell, pardon me, Mr. Perfect. I guess I forgot that you never, ever make a mistake.

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