Dear Fresh, thank you for having fantabulous kale dishes on your menu to stuff my face with. With love, me. Ever since I started eating kale last winter, I’ve been so excited to find places that serve it and finding different ways to cook it and combine it with other vegetables. I bought my first fresh bunch of kale at the farmers’ market earlier in the month, I got my delicious steamed kale fix at Kale Eatery the first few times I ate it, and I enjoyed it in a wonderful salad at my beloved Mela Cafe. And now, I get to it in a plethora of other ways at Fresh! Fresh rolled out a slew of new menu items to spruce up their revamped menu during the summer and the one I was most excited to try – the Italian raw bowl – was just one of them.
Fresh introduced some new mains, starters, salads, and add-ons to their existing menu, as well as some colourful changes to their restaurant details including bright orange chopsticks! Some of their new menu items include the Sam Houston burrito (soy and sweet potato taco filling with lettuce, sauteed peppers and onions, chipotle avocado sauce, and alfalfa sprouts), Eat Your Greens! salad (edamame, napa cabbage, cucumber, sunflower sprouts, parsley, cilantro, and a Fresh Protein Boost mixture of nuts and seeds), and the return of an old favourite, the Ninja bowl! When I looked over the new menu, I instantly knew my tastebuds wanted to tango with the Italian raw bowl.
The Italian raw bowl ($9) is a cold, quasi-salad starter with zucchini noodles dressed in a basil pesto sauce (you can tell why I wanted to eat this so badly now, don’t you?), served with a generous helping of grape tomatoes, Fresh Protein Boost mixture, sundried tomatoes, and kale chips! Okay, first things first, let’s break it all down. Fresh’s Protein Boost is a combination of brazil nuts, cashews, hazelnuts, pistachios, sesame, flax, hemp, and sunflower, pumpkin, and chia seeds, included on several dishes on their menu or as an add-on or individual side for an extra charge ($2).
Next, I describe the meal as a quasi-salad starter because in my opinion, this is a full-on entree meal! This is not a dinky small bowl appetizer. This is a nice big bowl of fresh, succulent zucchini noodles (think linguine pasta or soba noodles married with zucchini that’s been julienned so thinly and finely it becomes long noodles) that is so savoury and crunchy it makes you lick the bowl clean. If you love contrasting textures and flavours, the Italian raw bowl is delicious. There’s the cold freshness from the zucchini, that burst of cured salty flavour from the sundried tomatoes, and amazing roasted flavour that comes from the kale chips, nuts, and seeds. The kale chips are like tiny heavenly leaves of roasted crunchiness and I love them. I love them even more knowing I can make kale chips in my own oven at home too!
I know I kind of defeated the “raw” in the raw bowl by adding some grilled tofu steaks, but I really wanted to try Fresh’s tofu and they were so good I inhaled them. I totally understand the hemming and hawing some people go through when it comes to tofu, whether it’s because they find it too bland or because they want to limit the amount of processed foods in their diet, but I’ve enjoyed tofu for nearly my entire life and Fresh does it SO GOOD. They were thick rectangles of flavourful tofu with the prettiest of grill marks!
I haven’t had the chance to try any of Fresh’s other new menu items (yet!), but I’m so happy my first foray into new dish territory was as delicious as it was. I’m reeeally hoping to get my scrapbooking on for some new Fresh scrapbook layouts in the future because I miss doing them! Stayed tuned for Part II of the kale love at Fresh with another post tomorrow!
Fresh currently serves 3 locations in downtown Toronto:
326 Bloor St. West (right off the intersection of Spadina Ave. and Bloor St. West, just east of Spadina)
894 Queen St. West (at the intersection of Crawford St. and Queen St. West, near Trinity Bellwoods Park)
147 Spadina Ave. (near the intersection of Spadina Ave. and Queen St. West, a block south of Queen)