Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Fresh on Bloor > Fresh on Spadina

Fresh has been around for awhile (since 1999 as indicated on the menu). I have never stepped foot into Fresh before because I know it's a vegetarian restaurant (I need meat, I love meat, I can never be a vegetarian). Odd thing is, occasionally I would order salads at restaurants without any meat add-ons and I would be totally fine with it, life goes on. But psychologically, I feel a bit, intimidated (not sure if it's the right word here) going to a vegetarian restaurant because I know that the option of ordering meat is non-existent. Weird, huh? =D

So how did I end up at Fresh? Well, my friend Cindy and I were supposed to meet up for dinner at Marben after my visit to Menchie's Yogurt. But little did I know, all that yogurt filled me up (especially when I had to taste test so many flavours) and I could not imagine eating a burger anymore (I was going to try out Marben's burger after having a bite size of it at the Motto launch party). Since I was in Cindy's 'hood, I told her to suggest a restaurant that had a lighter menu and she suggested Fresh on Bloor. 

Fresh was packed when we arrived. I think a lot of people were waiting for take-out but nevertheless, all the tables in the dining room were filled. 

For all you meat-eaters, you can really breathe a sigh of relief because the menu is not all salads. They have a lot of different things like spring rolls, soups, dosas, burgers, wraps, and fries. They also have many sides and varieties in dressings, dips, and sauces. As for drinks, they have many protein shakes, smoothies, and juices to choose from. And if you're into adding supplements to your drinks, they have a whole list of that as well. 

Middle Eastern Plate - golden falafel balls, hummus, tahini & toasted organic whole wheat pita. This was our appetizer. I really enjoyed this plate because most of my vegetarian experience is really through salads and wraps as my main dish, but never a plate like this as an appetizer. I like the variation and also helps that I love olives, hummus and pita =) Never had the falafel balls before, kinda reminded me of meat balls. They were ok, a bit dry.

Big Salad - avocado, cucumber, tomato, carrot, red pepper & hulled hemp seeds on salad greens with goat cheese (the added goat cheese is $2 more). When our server brought this over I was surprised at how beautiful this salad was; it was so colourful and pretty! Tasted really good too. Also happy that I had a big scoop of goat cheese. 

A cup or bowl of our daily soup with a side garden salad & 2 slices of grilled corn bread -  Cindy had this combo and that day's soup was mushroom & eggplant soup. Had a taste of it and it was very hearty and delicious. 

This is the side salad and corn bread. Cindy had no complaints and she was really full after her combo meal. And so was I from my salad.

Although unexpected, I am happy that I finally got a chance to eat at Fresh on Bloor. I would definitely go again and try out their other salads and wraps.

All of the above was written a month or so before going to Fresh again for the second time, this time at the Spadina location, and what do you know? My second experience was disappointing - both the service AND the food was a let down. Let's start off with the good stuff - the fries.

Sweet Potato Fries with Garlic Mayo Dip - Really good fries, big portion too ($6 for the fries and $1.50 for the dip). They had a choice of the garlic mayo, thai peanut and miso gravy for dips. I picked garlic mayo because I can't really imagine the other two going well with fries (that's just me though). Anyway, I couldn't stop eating them.

Grilled Corn Bread - I never tried Cindy's corn bread last time, but she didn't say it was dry. I tried the cornbread this time and it was so very very dry, which my friends thought so too. It was cold as well (I personally like it hot or at least warm). I had to use A LOT of hummus to counter the dryness. 

California Classic Salad - Pesto white beans, toasted pecans, hearts of palm, avocado & grape tomatoes on salad greens. I asked for no beans (not a fan of beans) and added the goat cheese. Did not like this salad at all as it was really dry with not enough dressing. The Big Salad I had last time was so much better. When there;s not enough dressing, the dryness of this salad is so prominent because both the avocados and pecans are on the dry side. There weren't enough grape tomatoes either which would've helped. 

I was desperate for some sauce or dressing so when our server asked if we wanted hot sauce, I immediately said yes ((I've never had hot sauce with salad before but I was desperate). I've never had this kind of hot sauce before either, it was really thick. Not a fan of it but a spicy salad was better than a dry + flavourless salad. 

Buddha Bowl - Thai peanut sauce with marinated tofu cubes, tomato, cilantro, cucumber, bean sprouts, chopped peanuts, herbs and spices. My friend had this and she also said there was not enough dressing, not even close actually, considering the mountain of bean sprouts there were on top.

Remember how I said both the food AND service was bad at Fresh on Spadina? Well, this is what happened. Our server informed us when we sat down that the Buddha Bowl was special that night at 50% off:

Obviously, you would expect it to be $6 if you order it with basmati rice, and $7 with soba noodles, right? Assuming that, without being told otherwise, my friend actually asked the server which she liked better, rice or soba, and the server told my friend that she personally likes the soba. Ok, done, my friend chose the Buddha Bowl with soba. The bill came and my friend was charged $8 for the Buddha Bowl instead of $7. So we asked the server: "Shouldn't it be $7"? It was THEN that the server told us that the soba option is not discounted so it stays at $2. 

Wow. Talk about misleading. I know it's only $1 more and it is not a big deal monetary wise, but the fact that the server did not inform us that the soba option is at regular price and only the basmati rice had the 50% discount is just not right. It's more the principle that I have a problem with, not the $1. Our server had so many chances to tell us about the soba; at the beginning when she was telling us about the promotion or when my friend asked what she preferred, rice or soba. I don't care, whenever, doesn't matter, she had so many chances. All she had to say was "just to let you know the soba is at regular price so it remains as a $2 option". Easy, up front, honest. My friend said afterwards that she would've ordered the basmati rice if she knew that the soba was at regular price

This was really a turn off. I will never return to Fresh on Spadina again.

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