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In our ongoing pursuit of decent meals at chain restaurants we turned to one that is a bit more upscale. The Daily Grill is not as large a chain as some we have reviewed, but there were high hopes that since the food is fresh - and a bit pricier - that it might also be healthier. Wow! Was that a wrong assumption. The issue is partly calories, but that can be addressed pretty easily, because chain restaurants generally serve huge portions and taking half home is a good strategy.
The problem (once again) is the added salt.
While The Daily Grill isn't as bad as some, there are many dishes on their menu that you would think would be OK, but they contain over a teaspoon of added salt. Spending time with their nutrition facts handout is key to eating healthier at Daily Grill.
Soups seemed a good place to start. Tragically, the Manhattan Clam Chowder was good, with fresh tasting clams and a bright tomato flavor, but salty at 900 mg sodium in a large bowl. It is full of fresh veggies and bits of potato, however.
The Mushroom Barley tasted a little salty as well, but came in at only 343 mg for a large bowl. At only 100 calories, this was a rich and meaty soup with slices of beef and baby lima beans. A real winner. The Gazpacho comes in about midway between with 602 mg of sodium. Like the other soups, it is under 100 calories and has a nice spicy flavor and chunky texture. Either of these with a mixed green salad with oil and vinegar make a great lunch or starter.
There were a couple of appetizers that looked like they might be reasonable choices. Even though they were listed as starter courses, they all are about the right portion size as an entrée. The Jumbo Lump Crab Cake contains 170 calories and 563 mg of sodium. It's pretty large and has a nice crispy crust with soft, creamy fresh tasting crab inside. It's served with a mustard vinegar cream sauce that's a good complement with a lightly sour flavor. The seared Ahi Tuna Sashimi was enough for two as a main course. The serving came in at about 10 ounces of fish and is served with fresh cucumber pickles and great tasting ginger. The full serving has 477 calories and 636 mg of sodium (perfect for splitting).
The entrée salads served at The Daily Grill are HUGE. Not a little big, but easily split between two people. Even half of a Chinese Chicken Salad will have 660 calories and 841 mg of sodium. There's a lot of sodium in the dressing and having it on the side will help a bit (2 ounces = 255 calories and 555 mg sodium). The Chicken Caesar is similar, with a great fresh taste and also perfect for splitting (whole salad = 1,258 calories and 1,269 mg sodium).
The entrée section of the menu is a challenge. When there's a reasonable amount of calories there's a ton of salt and when there's less sodium there's a lot of calories. Some of this is just random but there you have it. The two choices that are reasonable are the New York Strip Steak. This is enough steak for two and has 1,164 calories for the 12 ounce steak. It was cooked well and not too tough. If you ask, they will prepare it without seasoning to save the added sodium (with the seasoning it has 948 mg sodium and without just 667 mg). The steak is served with fantastic steamed broccoli that's only lightly salted (112 mg sodium).
The Charbroiled Salmon was cooked perfectly and served with a bright fresh salsa made with tomatoes, onion and avocados. The serving was large at about 12 ounces and could also be easily split (whole serving 595 calories and 492 mg sodium). Like the steak, you can order this without the seasoning and it will save 249 mg sodium.
All in all there were some good choices at The Daily Grill. Like most chain restaurants, portion size is an issue, and you will do well to split any dish that you order. If you are on a very low sodium diet, this will be a challenge, but asking them to hold the seasoning can help.
Mushroom Barley Soup
Gazpacho (small bowl with 451 mg sodium)
1/2 Chinese Chicken Salad
1/2 Chicken Caesar Salad
1 Jumbo Lump Crab Cake
1/2 Ahi Tuna Sashimi
1/2 New York Strip Steak
1/2 Charbroiled Salmon
Reviewed: June 4, 2010