In a perfect world, all food that tastes good is healthy. Unfortunately, that world doesn’t exist, but Fresh Kitchen is pretty darn close to it. Although you most certainly don’t have to be a health freak to enjoy the food, those who are will especially appreciate this place.
Located on South Howard Ave., Fresh Kitchen first opened on Sept. 18, 2014. This hip new healthy restaurant uses only the freshest ingredients and all meats are hormone and antibiotic free. The concept is similar to Chipotle, where you wait in a line and tell the person at the counter all the ingredients you want and they throw it all in a bowl, only Fresh Kitchen offers a wider, significantly healthier variety of options.
Steven Lanza, one of the owners of Fresh Kitchen, is a part of the Ciccio Restaurant Group, which originated in New York City. They own many other restaurants in Tampa, including Daily Eats, Green Lemon, Ciccio Cali, Ciccio’s / Water and The Lodge Restaurant & Bar.
“Coming up with the theme for Fresh Kitchen was quite simple,” Lanza said. “We’re all really into health food, and there’s nothing like that here. So we thought, ‘why not make fast food healthy’?”
The first noticeable thing when walking into Fresh Kitchen fare the walls covered in synthetic grass. This makes stepping into Fresh Kitchen feel like stepping into a garden. The restaurant gives off a casual, yet sophisticated vibe. Although the seating space is on the smaller side, there are plenty of tables available, including outdoor seating.
When it comes to the menu, a well-balanced meal is guaranteed. From food to juices, customers can try a variety of different products in the store. Here, the dish is completely in your hands. Start off by choosing a large or small bowl, then two bases. Some bases include sweet potato noodles, veggie quinoa and romaine & spinach. Then pick two proteins, such as bbq chicken and tofu. Customers can even upgrade to grilled steak, tuna poke or shrimp.
The customer then chooses three veggies, with flavorful options like grilled broccolini and coconut cauliflower available. Last but not least, choose a sauce. Whether it’s simple, like the herb balsamic vinaigrette, or unique like the cucumber mint jalapeno, there are plenty of sauces to choose from. If you’re having trouble on deciding what to put into your meal, Fresh Kitchen has a menu of bowl selections you can choose from, such as the soho mexico (brown rice, grilled citrus chicken, grilled broccolini with black bean and corn salsa and avocado greens caesar sauce) and the bbq fresh (brown rice, bbq chicken, sweet potato mash and roasted brussels sprouts).
In addition to your bowl, Fresh Kitchen also offers cold pressed juices with natural vitamins and minerals, coffees and paleo (high-quality proteins and fats; nothing processed and grain-free) treats, like their gluten free chocolate chip cookies. Their juices are made in house and bottled fresh everyday. In terms of pricing, it’s not something the average college student can eat on the regular, unfortunately. Although bowls can start at 9 bucks, the cost can add up fast. Any premiums cost extra, such as steak, which is an extra $1.50. Also, if you want any extra sauce or cheese on anything, it’s an extra dollar for it.
When it was finally time for me to build my bowl, I went with the brown rice and sweet potato mash for my bases. For my proteins, I chose the bbq chicken and baked chicken tenders. Then, I opted for the grilled broccolini and roasted mushrooms for my veggies. And for my sauce, I went with the coconut sriracha. The portions were perfect; not too much or too little (probably goes with the whole “eating healthy” concept).
The presentation of the meal in the bowl looked enticing. The bbq chicken was nicely charred and had a little kick to it. But it was the baked chicken tenders that left an impression: super crunchy on the outside, yet tender and moist on the inside. If you aren’t a fan of greasy chicken fingers, then these ones are sure to be up your alley.
Although brown rice doesn’t have too much flavor in general, this rice was cooked to perfection and tasted delicious with the coconut sriracha sauce on top. If you like coconut, this is a must-have. The coconut added some creaminess to the spice in the sriracha, which married beautifully. The sauce paired well with the rest of the ingredients, as well. The sweet potato mash wasn’t too sweet and complemented the bbq chicken really well.
Both veggies were incredibly flavorful and fresh-tasting. The mushrooms were almost addictive. All in all, everything was really chock-full of flavor, making healthy food actually taste good.
Madison Irwin can be reached at Madison.firstname.lastname@example.org.