Saturday, February 23, 2008

Wild Oats (Closed)

Editor's note: Whole Foods took over Wild Oats in October 2008 and greatly expanded the deli offerings.

Okay so Wild Oats isn't technically a restaurant, but you people read my Costco post and didn't complain!

Wild Oats
5022 Poplar Avenue

Warren and I had some shopping to do for an impending sushi feast, and not a lot of time. So we decided to eat on the run and grab something at Wild Oats.

Now, we tried eating dinner at Wild Oats with the monkeys (Satchel, 5, and Jiro, 3) before with somewhat disastrous results. They didn't like anything and it was a big waste of money. But, that was a long time ago! I said. They're so much older and more refined now!

I personally eat at Wild Oats quite frequently, but I always get the same thing: a tornado roll (spicy tuna & avocado). Considering we were less than 24 hours away from a sushi extravaganza, I decided to show some restraint and find something else to eat.

But first, I had to deal with the monkeys.

While shopping, they both had access to free samples of Annie's Cheddar Bunnies (think Pepperidge Farm Goldfish shaped like rabbits) and the Wild Oats equivalent of Oreos. Jiro also wrangled a strawberry smoothie drink off of the refrigerated shelf and into his grubby paws. Last, but not least, they both (unknowingly) picked out a vegan chocolate cookie to eat for dessert.

The chances of getting them to partake in oats of any sort seemed slim. However, as we passed the first display case Jiro pointed at the Teriyaki chicken wings and said, "I want that!" Just to make sure he was sure, we looked in all of the windows and browsed the salad bar. There Satchel pointed at some benign looking penne pasta and said, "I want that!" I scooped some up into a plastic container and added two kinds of shredded cheese on top as instructed. "How about some black olives?" I suggested and he luke-warmly agreed. As we made our way around, Satchel tried very hard to find something else that interested him, namely the soup, but ultimately shied away.

We headed back to where the chicken wings were and both monkeys pointed at the macaroni and cheese in the adjacent case. I ordered a small container of the mac and ten wings. Warren ordered a small container of tabbouleh and we agreed to split a pre-prepared ham & cheese sandwich. I grabbed a bag of chips, Warren got a soda, and we were done. I looked at our booty--all absurdly individually packaged in varying plastic containers--and wondered how we were going to sit down and dine in a civilized fashion. I asked the deli man for a paper plate, and was given four plastic ones.

Now, let me just take a moment to rant a bit.

First off, Whole Foods (who is the soon-to-be if not already the owner of Wild Oats) has vowed to ban plastic bags in all of their stores by Earth Day 2008. I think that is awesome. Plastic bags totally blow.

Warren and I were proudly sporting our very own reusable bags to carry our groceries home. So, it was a little annoying that in attempting to eat dinner at the Wild Oats deli, we had accumulated a shit ton of plastic. Granted, Wild Oats has in-store recycling bins (also awesome), but they only accept #1 & #2 plastics, which the majority of our containers were not.

Now, it is entirely possible that I just went about the whole dinner selection process the wrong way and there is a very easy, low-plastic way to eat a variety of items offered in the deli in the deli. In fact, I hope this is the case. I know that was certainly true at Squash Blossom back in the day. (Oh, how I miss you Squash Blossom!)

Okay, so back to the meal.

I had our dinner rung up separately from our groceries so I could see exactly what price tag was attached to all of this waste. $21.79. Not horrible, but not not horrible considering I technically didn't have my own meal. Or a drink.

Speaking of, I had to make several runs to the water dispenser during the meal since Warren was only willing to let us drink so much of his black cherry soda. (Do I have to mention at this point that the water dispenser has a plastic cup dispenser above it?)

Jiro tried to tell me that he couldn't eat his chicken because it was "wet," but Warren brilliantly told him that the wetness was just soy sauce. He ate most of one wing and then requested that I pull the meat off of another two. Satchel also had one wing. (That left six for Warren to eat.)

Satchel's seemingly plain penne pasta turned out to be heavily seasoned with garlic. After one bite, Satchel screamed, "Spicy!" and passed it over to, guess who? Warren.

Satchel ate a few olives and then shared a few with Jiro. The ham and cheese sandwich that Warren and I split was fine. Not exciting. Not nasty. Just fine.

The monkeys were both ignoring their macaroni and cheese so I finally had to ask why.

"It's too wet," said Jiro. (No chance of using the soy sauce ploy here.)

"It's cold," said Satchel.

I then had a flashback to the last time we ate at Wild Oats and they asked for mac & cheese and then refused to eat it.

Warren valiantly offered to nuke it in the nearby microwave. I watched on as he fumbled around. He returned with a goofy look on his face and I asked, "Did the plastic container melt in the microwave?"

"Yes," he said perturbed. "I only put it in for 20 seconds!"

He fished out the (hopefully) unaffected mac and cast it back on the monkeys' plates. Shockingly, they ate it. (I had to feed Jiro his and say soothing things like, "Two more bites until you get to eat your vegan cookie.)

Throughout the meal the monkeys remained relatively calm and only ooched in their seats a little bit. They each got two wooden nickels at the checkout since we brought our own bags, so we happily ended our meal by putting the nickels into the charity slot of our choice (Memphis Greenline, Slow Food Memphis, and Shelby Farms).

Next time...if there is one...we're all getting sushi.

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