Tuesday, May 31, 2011
Fast n Fresh - The Name Says It All
I first got a taste of Fast n Fresh at the Forks & Corks festival back in January. For those who don't know, Forks & Corks is the Suncoast's premier food, wine and beer festival whose Grand Tasting is held in the gorgeous courtyard of The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art. We went this past year and literally stuffed ourselves to the gills! Hubby wanted to make the rounds twice to all the booths to get his money's worth. But with 50 restaurants and over 80 wineries featured at the event, we barely made it around once! One of the last items we tried was the Summer Pecan salad from Fast n Fresh. It was nice light fare - spinach, candied pecans, fresh strawberries (which I picked off cause I'm allergic), dried cranberries, gorgonzola cheese and their fat free raspberry vinaigrette dressing. As I was happily forking the bright little salad into my mouth, I mentioned to hubby that "weeb gotta go dere." And so, we did.
While their offering of salads, sandwiches, wraps and soups sounds mighty similar to Panera or Crispers, their set up is more like Subway or Quiznos. You can either step up to the counter and order one of their signature offerings, or you can grab a clipboard and "design your own" salad or sandwich. And once you order, you move down the line, watching as they put your selection together. Things like pears get cut before your eyes, and avocados are seeded and scooped fresh. They ask you about whether you'd like certain toppings like cheese (yes, please!) and onions (no way!). And as you reach the register, you've just watched your entire meal be lovingly prepared (awwww!) and you can't wait to dig in. After taking the first bite of my salad, I made the mistake of mentioning to hubby that this place was "really fresh" and he replied, "yeah, and it's fast too!" I walked right into that one. But after my bad experience at Jason's Deli recently, I was happy to see vibrant, crisp lettuce, crunchy crumbled bacon and fresh sliced fruit in my salad. So it's become a tradition. Every time we visit Fast n Fresh, I say, "This place is really fresh" and hubby smiles and says, "Yeah, and fast too!"
On this occasion, I was meeting a friend for lunch to discuss some upcoming plans. I chose their Classic Cobb Salad - roasted chicken, bacon bits, avocado, hard boiled egg, crumbled gorgonzola cheese and tomato with their honey mustard dressing. There's nothing I don't love about this salad. You know when you order a salad topped with chicken at other fast food restaurants like say, Wendy's or Burger King, and all you get is grey squares of fatty grossness? Well, you get just the opposite here. The roasted chicken was all white meat, tasted freshly cooked and there wasn't an ounce of fat to be found. Yum. You already know the deal with the bacon and avocado, and the honey mustard dressing has that perfect little kick of tang that always makes me wish I had ordered an extra side of it. But, be warned. This salad, while tasty and delicious, always defeats me. The picture makes it look deceptively small, but I swear that black bowl is bottomless. Either that or the salad regenerates as I eat it, I'm not sure.
My dining companion ordered the Turkey Gorgonzola Sandwich - black forest smoked turkey, house-made gorgonzola spread, red onion, lettuce and tomato on multigrain bread. I know he liked it, because at one point he said to me, "this is really good" and the next time I looked over at his plate, it had disappeared. I've also ordered the Turkey & Pear Panini before and it is also scrumptious - achieving the perfect combination of savory and sweet.
Because of their commitment to fresh ingredients and flavorful combinations, I have no doubt that whatever you order here will be completely and totally worth it. So....what are you waiting for?
Atmosphere - B
Taste - A
Presentation - C
Service - A
Price - $
Fast n Fresh
8105 Cooper Creek Blvd
University Park, FL 34201