Restaurant Review: & Juice Co. Grab & Go
Refrigerated grab-and-go coolers are not normally the places in Columbus to find the tasty fare. More often, the sections are stocked with make-do food options, valued more for speed than for quality.
That normal state of affairs is worth pointing out, as & Juice Co. has been busy shaking up the grab-and-go scene by stocking its coolers with chewable, non-juice, vegan options.
There’s no posted menu listing refrigerator finery from which to form expectations, there’s just social media and a look-see. Essentially, it’s a game of “What’s in the fridge?” in a public establishment. A recent raid of the &JuiceCo. cooler sections yielded only wins: interesting, satisfying items priced at $7-8 (the prices were not actually labeled on the items, but that’s how it turned out).
So first, the Chickpea Salad Sandwich*. It’s more than vaguely reminiscent of a tuna sandwich, only without the distinct tuna aroma. The mammoth contributions of mayo, celery and onion go a long way in defining a sandwich spread. In this case, the trinity carries chickpeas, in both squished and chunky forms. Served on a firm sourdough with a slice of lettuce and cream cheese*, the sandwich has an undeniably approachable, homespun appeal. That’s saying something for a chickpea sandwich.
Then there was the Carrot Lox Bagel. That option comes with a bonus fancy nutrition label (100 percent of the USDA of Vitamin A, FTW). Carrots as lox impersonators work surprisingly well, they’re perhaps even more lovable than salmon, as the latter can sometimes be overpoweringly fishy. The seasoned, grated carrots aren’t fishy at all, and they provide the requisite color jolt with lots of spots of embedded capers in super creamy vegan cream cheese with a bit of red onion.
There’s a theme evolving here in refrigerator-land: Approachable vegetable-based creations, made with a variety of ingredients.
The grab-and-go section also offered Spring Rolls. The Asian appetizers don’t typically have to be altered much to be animal-free. Inside the shell is a savory mix of soft julienned cabbage and mushrooms. The rolls are respectable, if not a miraculous crossover food.
For dessert, the check-out counter holds proper cookies. Well, proper cookie-balls. The chocolate chip cookies are round, and made with oatmeal, cashews, maple syrup and chocolate chips. The chocolate chips themselves are reliable, but the base tastes like not much of anything (neither maple nor cashew). The dessert was not nearly as fun as the other munchables.
As its name suggests, the core mission of &JuiceCo. is rooted in the juice scene. There’s some ideology involved, it has something to do with the fact that its juices are cold pressed, and cold-pressed juices are probably good for you, generally speaking. There’s an option to go all in and do a detoxing cleanse with four to six beverages per day.
Let’s just start small, though, with a random juice. That’s still got to be a little healthy. One named Forca is sweet and pleasant, made with carrots, beets, apples, oranges, and turmeric; it’s easy to guzzle down. For more sustenance (and fall flavor), Cinnamon is a good option. It’s built on cashews, sweetened with dates and some hemp seed and cinnamon and something called “maca,” which a retrospective internet search says is good for the libido.
The refrigerator food menu changes regularly, but the experiments so far have been promising. You can do your own investigations at its three locations in Columbus: Upper Arlington, Clintonville, or Italian Village.
For more information, visit andjuiceco.com.
*The label mentioned cream cheese and mayo. Pretty sure it’s all “vegan” versions of the products, given the promotions and the source. That said, strict vegans are encouraged to verify before ingesting.
*The Chickpea Salad Sandwich was not available at the time photos were taken.