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Restaurant Review: Fresh Kitchen

Miriam Bowers Abbott Miriam Bowers Abbott Restaurant Review: Fresh KitchenPhoto by Walker Evans.
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A reader tip rolled in this summer, suggesting a visit to Fresh Kitchen out at Mill Run. According to the email, the restaurant can be found smack dab in one of the healthiest strip malls in the city; one that holds three fitness clubs, a supplement store, and a juice place.

That’s no exaggeration. It’s not just a lil’ fitness strip mall, Fresh Kitchen is in a ginormous megaplex that also boasts medical services. You can amble through the parking lot forever, passing by opportunity after opportunity to do something potentially healthy. Fresh Kitchen is one of those healthy-ish options.

Admittedly, the healthy schtick has never had the same sort of draw as something like… Melt. Deep fried, melted cheese delights are more generally the objects of obsession and dreams. No one fantasizes about rolling around in grilled chicken on a bed of romaine.

So it took a while to get to Fresh Kitchen, but it was worth the trip.

Fresh Kitchen is the sort of place where you order at the counter. That’s said, it doesn’t follow the popular Chipotle model. There’s no cafeteria line where you point n’pick ingredients, although you can customize some aspects of your order. So, on something like a Power Bowl, you pick a protein and base (the options are cool, including smashed potatoes, spinach/kale mix, and a bean-lentil mix) and a sauce.

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Or, you can just go with the house mixes: Korean Chicken Bowl ($7.95) was lots of fun. It’s a balanced mix of greens, roasted zucchini and carrots, soft black and white beans, and grilled chicken tied together with a sweet, vaguely Asian dressing/sauce. It does feel healthy, but that’s not to say “joyless”. Especially nice is the chicken, which does not seem to be the least bit processed or pre-cooked. The savory chunks come hot off the grill. That’s a winner right there.

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That victorious meat angle is a thread that runs though an option such as the Steakhouse Salad ($9.95) too. While you have the option to put chicken or tofu on your steakhouse salad, it makes the most sense to pair it with… beef, right? In that case you get dewy greens artistically arranged with tomatoes, cucumbers, croutons, fried onion bits and steak that is pretty darn steaky. Again, seasoned and fresh off the grill; it’s sorta surprising.

The steakhouse salad also includes a scoop of smashed potatoes, complete with colorful red-peel fragments. Perhaps braver diners mix that scoop right in with the greens. They do just fine as a side.

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There are sandwiches too. The Thanksgiving on Wheatberry ($7.95) is a tidier creation than expected. For the record, “tidy” is in no way a euphemism for “tiny”; it’s generously portioned, centered on hefty layers of turkey deli meat. The turkey is teamed with a neat stack of greens, tomatoes, cranberry sauce, a teeny bit of potato-stuff and a little mayo, pleasingly piled high between the sweet wheat bread.

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For the veggie-centric, the roasted vegetables found earlier in the chicken bowl can be enjoyed in greater quantity in the Roasted Veggie Wrap. They’re bundled with greens, provolone and the house pesto-mayo. At $6.95, it’s a bargain. Although… it’d be a shame to miss out on those grilled meats.

Sides range from healthy (whole fruit) to potato chips. You can go local and score some OH! Chips for $2, and local is about the same thing as healthy, right?*

You can find Fresh Kitchen at 3680 Fishinger Blvd. Look for the PowerShack Gym, or the Crunch Fitness Gym, or the Aussie Fit gym. Then you’ll know you’re getting close.

*Please, let’s not discuss how “healthy” should be defined. That question was rhetorical.

For more information, visit www.freshkitchenohio.com.

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