Most of us are familiar with the famous Shakespearean quote “What’s in a name,” where Juliet suggests to Romeo that names are nothing more than labels people assign to things to distinguish one from another. While Juliet’s logic recognized that names doesn’t create worth, I’d argue they can create expectations, especially when a restaurant is named “Fresh Kitchen.” With a name like that, I better not see or taste anything that was prepackaged, out of a can, or ever frozen. Don’t you agree?
Honoring the promise in their name, Fresh Kitchen distinguishes themselves apart from anyone else from the moment guests walk in the door. It all starts with a dining room featuring large windows showcasing the contents of their walk-in coolers and cold-pressed juice prep station. The multitude of colorful, fresh ingredients illustrates just how committed Fresh Kitchen is living up to their name. Trust me . . . your ingredients better be perfect if you’re going put them on display like this!
In addition to the obvious freshness, I discovered another something downright wonderful at Fresh Kitchen . . . their entire menu, right down to their condiments, is 100% gluten free. Take that, Celiac!
Thinking along that line, have you ever considered how challenging it is for someone with food allergies or sensitivities to order a meal in a restaurant? Imagine having to ask your server the ingredients of pretty much everything you’re about to order! Now imagine doing that on a first date (!!!) a business lunch or while trying to order for 4 hungry kids! Thankfully, Fresh Kitchen’s serving station allows guests to pick and choose exactly what goes into their meal without a lot of questions needed!
And while I’m lauding their focus on safe dining options, the third awesomely cool thing about Fresh Kitchen is their large menu boards which clearly indicate if a menu option contains nuts, sugar, or dairy. Even preschool aged children can make safe dining choices by looking for the easily recognizable icons of a nut, “S” or “d”, similar to what you’d see on a smart phone. More than one anxious moms told me how grateful they were for how easy this makes it for parents to teach children the role they have in choosing how to stay safe while eating in a restaurant.
Every meal at Fresh Kitchen comes in one of three bowl sizes. The Six Bowl invites you to choose 2 bases, 2 veggies, 2 proteins and the dipping sauce/dressing of your choice for $9.95. For $7.95 you can go with the Four Bowl, which includes 2 bases, 1 veggie and one protein with a side of sauce. Kid’s bowls cost $6.95 and include 1 base, 1 veggie, and 1 protein, as well as one of their fresh, cold-pressed sauces.
So what goes into picking your base? Essentially, your base is the first thing that goes into your bowl, with your choice of their “amazing” brown rice, sweet potato mash, Chef’s base, perfect spice rice, summer salad, kale slaw, sweet potato noodles or vegetable quinoa. Not sure exactly what you want? The staff is happy to offer a bite-sized portion of anything on the menu, but trust me . . . after tasting a few of them it was still hard for me to narrow it down to my two favorites.
Going with the Four Bowl option, my two base choices were the kale slaw dressed a light honey Dijon and the vegetable quinoa with diced red and green peppers, red onion, mint and lime juice. I went with these two choices because I liked the combo of crunchy and nutty!
The next addition to my bowl was one of Fresh Kitchen’s roasted seasonal vegetables. After tasting a bite of the roasted mushrooms, parmesan broccoli and turmeric roasted cauliflower, I narrowed my choice to the roasted Brussel sprouts. They were just too beautiful, the outer leaves too crisp and charred to miss. However, after seeing that I struggled to make that choice, somehow the server dropped a slice of cauliflower and a sprig of parmesan broccoli into my bowl as well. (I won’t tell if you don’t!)
The manager, Steven Warren, explained that Fresh Kitchen’s BBQ chicken is easily the most popular protein on the menu, with their grilled citrus chicken coming in second. However, having tasted bite-sized samples of each protein, I’m confident some guests would vote for the Baked Almond Chicken while vegetarians would be more than happy with the chia seed teriyaki tofu. (I came very close to ordering the tofu. It was really tasty!) You could also order grilled steak for an additional $1.50 as well as Fresh Kitchen’s popular Hawaiian-inspired tuna poke, a raw tuna salad that’s pronounced poh-key, and has absolutely noting to do with Pokeman! (Thank goodness!)
I thought the grilled citrus chicken paired best with my kale slaw base and Brussel sprouts, and happily, I wasn’t wrong. My bowl was outstanding in both the flavor and portion size. While I’d ordered sample portions of the cold-pressed sauces, (the cucumber jalapeno was my favorite) they were hardly needed, since every aspect of my bowl was seasoned perfectly.
Mart’s bowl started with a base of Fresh Kitchen’s sweet potato noodles, which resemble a soba or rice noodle, but are pure sweet potato, so full of flavor and their “amazing” brown rice. (I’ve taken the liberty of adding the word “amazing” to Fresh Kitchen’s brown rice. They don’t call it that on the menu, but they could! They even feature it in one of their custom desserts!) Picking the recommended BBQ chicken as his protein, Mart added a serving of the parmesan broccoli, along a creamy white ginger sauce and bumped it up with an add-on of the bean and corn salsa.
If you’re not in the mood for one of their tasty fountain drinks or teas, there’s bottled water as well as a nice selection of fresh, cold-pressed juice, made fresh each morning. The most popular juice is the Strawberry Chiwee, featuring juice from apples, strawberries, pineapple, oranges and chia seeds. You have to shake it up a bit, but having that nutty flavor mix in with fresh juice, well . . . you have to try it.
The restaurant itself is bright and colorful, with a number of tables on the patio for those who enjoy eating al fresco. And with prices keeping most every meal under $10 per person, most families can afford a night out at Fresh Kitchen, where they take fast casual dining to new heights. . . adding gluten-free, healthy and fresh to the mix.