Not everything on the menu is vegan, but the many vegan options are marked with a little green leaf and almost anything can be easily veganized (and prepared with separate cookware). All the ingredients used at Fresheast are local and organic and no menu item includes refined sugars or transfats.
Beyond that, all the VerTerra plateware and utensils are - I kid you not - made of nothing more than fallen leaves and water; in fact, the entire building is constructed of recycled woods. If you show up on a bike or in a hybrid car, or if you bring your own container or cup, you get a 10% discount.
There are so many good, green things about this restaurant that my head almost exploded into a million little sustainable pieces (which the folks at Fresheast totally would have repurposed into table settings or something).
Executive chef Jonathan Schwichtenberg does not, as his name might suggest, prepare only meals involving schnitzel and bratwurst. Rather, the whole menu is inspired by Korean, Chinese, Thai, Japanese, and Indian food. It’s relatively affordable, too: the most expensive item on the menu is $13.95.
And now, full disclosure: Fresheast’s public relations representatives contacted me about trying this restaurant, and my meal there was on them. But I have hated free food in the past (hello, spicy tofu samples at the mall), so I wasn’t about to let the fact that this meal was free sway my assessment of it.
Victoria and I each ordered a juice to go with our meal – after my overwhelming experience cleaning my own juicer last week, I was totally down to let someone else handle all that for me. I went with the Fresheast Juice (orange, lemon, apple, cucumber, spinach, kale, and red beets), which tasted like a refreshing wake-up punch in the side of the face:
|Spicy garlic noodles
|Palak paneer with tofu instead of paneer cheese
The tiger tofu, on the other hand, was delightful. The menu describes the "tiger" sauce as "a perfect mixture of sweetness and Korean bold spice," and I'm inclined to agree. All those fresh grilled veggies were delicious, too.
The avocado rolls were out of this world. I think the only other avocado rolls I've tried were from the Cheesecake Factory in my pre-vegan days, and these ones definitely put them to shame. Unfortunately, there was only one roll for each of us; I could have eaten the whole plate myself.
I was kind of disappointed with the tofu palak paneer; it wasn't super flavorful. That's probably because the "paneer" part was missing in this veganized version, so the whole thing was toned down. At least it didn't attack my tongue with hot spice the way most Indian food does.
All in all, Fresheast gets my full recommendation to vegans and non-vegans alike. I plan to spend a good portion of the next year or so of my life lobbying the owners to open a branch in Santa Barbara so I can dine out there whenever I feel like being sustainable and/or ethnic.