Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Grab Something Good for You; Healthful Grains and Greens Served Up in Fast-Casual Atmosphere

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Grab Something Good for You; Healthful Grains and Greens Served Up in Fast-Casual Atmosphere

Article excerpt

Byline: Jay Magee

At first glance, the new Grabbagreen looks and feels like any other modern fast-casual concept. It's bright and clean, with a modern, industrial feel - high ceilings, exposed ducts, aluminum tables and chairs. iPads abound for ordering and even logging diner reviews on the fly.

But get a bead on this menu and you'll see how this mini-chain offers something pretty different from the usual typical fast-casual fare.

The Arizona-based healthy grains and greens outpost opened its first Florida location, and 19th in the country, in March at Brooklyn Station on Riverside Avenue, in the outparcel next to Burrito Gallery.

True to its name, Grabbagreen deals in freshly prepared grab-and-go entrees, pressed juices and smoothies, available seven days a week for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Most items are organic and all are non-genetically modified and naturally gluten-free. You won't find salt and pepper shakers anywhere on the premises, or even carbonated soft drinks. The sole flavor enhancers I found were chili-mango sauce and amino acids as a soy sauce substitute, and honey and agave as sweeteners.

When my family stopped in last Sunday night for a quick bite, our cashier asked if we wanted to eat or drink our meal. Indeed, the big overhead board is split 50/50 between options best consumed by a straw to the left, and greens, grains and breakfast entrees to the right.

Quinoa is a staple for the celiac and gluten-free community, and my gluten-free and rice-sensitive wife was pleased to find no shortage of quinoa-based entrees. Her choice was a Grabba Grain, one of eight bowls with dense foundations of quinoa, quinoa noodles or brown rice. Her Southwest ($11.49) was a tasty blend of cage-free chicken chunks with south-of-the-border style veggies, cheddar-jack cheese, cilantro and yogurt agave barbecue sauce. While she admitted it needed a pinch of salt, the protein-thick thicket was a substantial joy otherwise.

I went for a Grabba Green, a traditional tossed salad. My Gulf of Mexico ($11.49) was a tongue-tingling, spicy treat, thanks to a healthy dose of cayenne pepper blended with spinach, baby shrimp, red onion, chopped egg, avocado, cucumber, parsley and creamy avocado dressing atop baby spinach. It, too, could have benefitted from a dash of the banished salt, but the chili-mango sauce proved a worthy tabletop embellishment. I told the crew behind the counter they should bottle and sell the stuff.

I also tried one of Grabbagreen's breakfast offerings, a Sonoran Breakfast Sandwich ($7.49) that proved to be my favorite item of the night. Wrapped in aluminum foil, it had all the trappings of a classic egg-and-melty-cheese breakfast sandwich, just wrapped in a crumbly quinoa cake that had the consistency of a breaded chicken patty. As with many menu items here, it was on the pricey side, but I'll still stop by on my way to work for this one. …

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