Yeah, that’s the stuff. One of the good things about being quasi-employed (at best) is the availability for weekday shenanigans with the like-lifestyled.
A restaurant around here that has hit that small-chain institution level is called Fresh. Started out as a juicebar in 99 and now has a full menu of rice bowls and sandwiches served alongside wine and beer and their signature juices and smoothies. I rarely go, maybe once every year or two, but we were halfway to try Hot Beans in the market when my counterpart declared he was too starving to make it the last leg of the journey. We cut the trip short and needed to find something vegan friendly in the Annex, and Fresh is there. So, with a vague memory and knowledge of what we were in for, we ventured inside the packed restaurant.
They have weird menus- long and laminated, taking up the whole table, and only one per two top. I guess the idea is that you and your partner both look at it together. The special, listed up on the chalkboard, was a vegetarian banquet burger with tempeh bacon and vegan cheese which my friend promptly ordered. I remember being a fan of their rice/noodle bowls which combine tofus with vegetables in really interesting sauces. I liked them more when they were less expensive… sorry guys, I’m not paying $16 for a bowl of effing noodles no matter how awesome the miso gravy. The sandwiches are where it’s at, ten bones and they’re pretty hearty, which is important because they don’t come with anything other than a forkful of (quite delicious and more oil than vinegar) kale slaw. I had a little taste of the burger, I’m pretty picky about my veggie burgers, with a serious loathe on for the bread on a bun variety. This was of that school, though nicely spiced, like thanksgiving stuffing mushed together. My sandwich was salty and breaded deep fried tofu morsels amongst sprouts and carrots and all those other things you see on every giant veggie wrap everywhere. It was pretty yum.
The service was a little spotty, but kind of always has been. We ordered our food asking for a few more minutes to choose a beverage from their extensive list. The server never returned though so we were stuck upon arrival of our plates with our giant menu still in hand. The food runner asked if we needed condiments so we ordered our shake and juice from her. That juice was the biggest mistake of my day. I ordered the Detoxifier: Kale Spinach Parsley Celery and Apple and boy did it ever taste healthy. The apple juice kept separating to the bottom, like it didn’t want to be associated, leaving an algae like sludge on top. I tried stirring constantly while I sipped, I tried adding water, and abandoned the more-expensive-than-beer beverage a quarter of the way in because I just couldn’t punish myself any more. My friend did a little better with his Swoosh power shake. Peanut Butter, Dark Cocoa, Maple Syrup, Banana, Soymilk and Cinnamon is one delicious creamy combination. I’m so glad he saved me a sip to clear my palate at the end.
So yeah, it’ll probably be another year and a bit before I go to Fresh again. Some people love it though- and I guess it would be a good place to take your mom, or an omnivore looking for a safe venture out into the world of vegan food. Make sure you’re rich or they’re paying though, it’s kind of crazy expensive.