by Winona Post Editor-in-chief Sarah Squires
I sat down at my desk this week and did what I normally do every Monday morning. I Googled “Winona Health menu” to get the scoop on what’s for lunch at the Lakeside Cafe this week. Google obediently loaded the list of sites, and I noticed something. Written in light gray letters under the website, it said “You’ve visited this page many times. Last visit: 8/18/17.”
Oh, Google, you know me too well.
See, I’m a salad bar junkie. I remember when Timbers closed, I lamented — where, oh where am I going to have my fill of salad bar? I ticked the few that were left off in my head for reassurance, but I am very protective of my salad bars and what if something happened to those, too?
I’m not sure what happened for awhile there, bouncing between salads, asking for more lettuce, but eventually, somehow, I stumbled into Winona Health craving greens. Maybe I was there for the $5 jewelry sale (that’s coming up again too!), maybe I was at an appointment, I don’t recall, but I was definitely hungry. Wandering around the Parkview side of the building, I got a whiff of garlic and allowed my belly to lead me into the Lakeside Cafe. And there it was. Another salad bar. Different kinds of lettuce! Shredded carrots and tomatoes and cucumbers and feta, oh my!
Then I turned around and found that not only does this cafe include an array of local produce goodies, but also a selection of hot meals and sides prepared by the hospital’s dietician, so they’re healthy, too. I might not remember how I stumbled in there, but I do remember the first thing I had: healthy, baked eggplant parmesan, for a whopping $2.39. Wow.
I’ve become a regular. I keep dragging my friends there like a hospital foodie recruiting agent. People who work there are likely wondering which department I head off to, because I certainly end up eating there more often than many of the employees (I don’t know where that kind of will power comes from, guys).
It’s funny to see people’s reaction to my enthusiasm for hospital food. Hospital food does not have the best reputation. I remember one time when I was in the hospital elsewhere and they managed to do a poor job of an order that consisted of Raisin Bran and almond milk (I think the little box of cereal was older than me). This is not the case with the Lakeside Cafe. Here’s a sample: Baked ziti ($2.39), garlic balsamic chicken breast ($2.54), Innovation blackened cod verde and watercress salad ($3.79), garlic bread sticks ($.54), cafe roasted potatoes ($.99), farmers market vegetable medley ($.99), green beans ($.99), carrots ($.99), chicken noodle soup, tomato Florentine soup, grilled chicken sandwich ($2.54), garden burger ($1.99), Gabriel cod sandwich ($2.29), buffalo burger ($2.49), buffalo hot dog ($2.29), and, of course, the salad bar ($3.75). And that was just on Monday.
Part of the reason I have salad bar on the brain is because Bluff Country Co-op just opened it’s expanded deli, which includes a succulent salad bar and a hot food bar too, and all of a sudden I am feeling much more secure in my quest for all things veggie. I stopped in there and enjoyed my favorite soup today — tomato leek mixed with Cuban black bean.
You may have noticed, I’m a bit of a foodie. I so often hear people complain about restaurants in Winona, and I just have to scratch my head. We do have some really great places to eat here, and I tend to do just that more frequently than most people. Cooking for one is not too much fun, most food is sold in portions to feed a family, and eating the same leftovers for days isn’t really my cup of tea. But, if I get out and enjoy Winona foods for lunch, peanut butter toast for dinner doesn’t sound so bad after all.