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The Dish: Garden Variety

Staff Photo: Deanna Allen
 A healthy spread at the Dacula restaurant includes, clockwise from front, the turkey club, the signature pomegranate and mango chipotle chicken panini, the Mexicali steak salad and a daily soup special, the garden fresh asparagus soup. 

Staff Photo: Deanna Allen A healthy spread at the Dacula restaurant includes, clockwise from front, the turkey club, the signature pomegranate and mango chipotle chicken panini, the Mexicali steak salad and a daily soup special, the garden fresh asparagus soup. 

1250 Auburn Road, Suite 203, Dacula

678-377-8008

• BBQ ranch chicken salad - Romaine/iceberg blend, chicken breast, black beans, corn, tomatoes and colby jack cheese with bbq ranch dressing, $7.99

• Portabello mushroom flatbread panini - Portabello mushroom, field greens, tomatoes, gorgonzola cheese and mayo on a hot flatbread panini served with a choice of chips or a cookie, $7.99

• Italian - Pepperoni, salami, ham, sliced provolone, lettuce and tomato with Italian spices on a ciabatta roll served with a choice of chips or a cookie, $6.99

www.gardenvarietysalads.com

• Open since: July

• Location: Garden Variety is tucked into a row of shops along Auburn Road near its intersection with Old Fountain and Jim Moore roads in Dacula.

• Hours: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily

• Owner: Auburn resident Matt Morris is a marathon runner who maintains a fairly healthy lifestyle. When he and his brother-in-law were looking around the Dacula area for restaurants offering healthy fare, they found it lacking.

"We decided to give Dacula a healthy option," Morris said.

• Atmosphere: Garden Variety provides a simple dining area with regular, four-top table seating. Customers order at a counter where they can watch employees prepare their selections and see the choice of ingredients. The art that adorns the two-toned green walls — corn, carrots, mushrooms, berries, tomatoes and other fruits and vegetables — gives customers an idea of the fresh ingredients they can expect in their meals.

• Menu: Garden Variety serves salads, soups and sandwiches with a varied menu of healthy and savory selections with a create-your-own salad option.

Customers can build their salads in four steps: choose the lettuce — romaine, a spring mix or romaine and iceberg — select the toppings — choose three of 29 offered for a half salad ($4.99) or five for a full ($6.99) — add in the optional protein ($1.99 extra) and finally, dress it up with one of 14 salad dressings.

"We know that dressing is where you add on the calories so we offer lots of fat free dressings," Morris said.

Hot, flatbread paninis follow up the salad selections, the most popular of which are the blueberry chipotle steak — sirloin steak, mozzarella cheese, field greens, tomatoes and a blueberry chipotle spread on a hot flatbread panini — and the pomegranate and mango chipotle chicken, exchanging grilled chicken for the sirloin steak in the previous selection and a pomegranate and mango chipotle spread for the blueberry.

The most popular sandwich selection at Garden Variety is the turkey club, made with turkey, bacon, lettuce, tomato and mayo on a choice of toasted white or wheat bread.

Customers can pair their paninis or sandwiches with four varieties of SunChips, pretzels or Baked Ruffles, Cheetos or Doritos or a cookie. Fresh fruit or a cup of soup are available for 59 cents.

Soup selections — two are offered daily — range from tomato basil bisque and mushroom brie to garden fresh asparagus and apple butternut squash.

"That is almost like a dessert, it is so good," Morris said of the latter.

• Things you might not know: Not only does Garden Variety serve healthy foods, physical activity is on the menu as well. Morris plans to start a running club, open to all activity levels, that will meet at the restaurant at 10:30 a.m. each Saturday. A couple different routes ranging from 1 to 3 miles, or farther, have been outlined and the first meeting will be held Dec. 12.

Garden Variety also offers delivery for teachers at the 14 schools within a 7-mile radius.

If you have a restaurant you would like to see featured in The Dish, call Staff Writer Deanna Allen at 770-963-9205 ext. 1321 or e-mail deanna.allen@gwinnettdailypost.com.