Friday, April 25, 2008

Baby Greens

2316 S 1st St
Austin, TX 78704

Some of you may not know this about me, but I’m a belly dancer (and no I WON’T do a private show for you, so don’t bother asking). I’ve been dancing for about 6 years now and was even in a troupe in Fort Worth. We did Gypsy style belly dancing, complete with crazy costumes, skirts, coins, bells, scarves; the whole 9 yards. We performed at local festivals, other dance shows, and even at the State Fair every year. It was awesome and is probably the ONE thing I miss about Fort Worth. But when I moved to Austin I couldn’t find anyone teaching Gypsy style belly dancing, so I decided to try the next best thing, Tribal Fusion style belly dancing. Tribal Fusion dancing involves lots of crazy costumes but the dancing has a more intensity than the vibrant energy of Gypsy.

Anyway, my new teacher is on south Lamar and when I’m done with class at 8:30, I am usually starving. Usually I head home and forage through my fridge for a snack, but this week I was heading out to Christine and Tess’s to do some eyebrow grooming (Tess is a fabulous aesthetician, I’ll gladly recommend her to anyone). So I drove down Oltorf intending to get one of those Fresco tacos at Taco Smell (I know it sacrilege, but I think they’re kind of tasty) when a fabulous idea popped into my head, why not try Baby Greens! The notion of healthy fast food fascinates me and I’ve been meaning to try this place for ages, but they never seem open. Every time I drive by they always look dark and uninviting, so I keep on driving. But this time my stomach was grumbling and I was feeling rather proud of myself for the good work-out I’d just gotten, and wanted to continue the healthy streak I had going that day.

I drove by slowly to ascertain whether they were open. Again, I felt daunted, the place was dark and there weren’t any cars in the lot. BUT there was large neon sign in the window that said Open. So I cautiously crept into the drive thru thinking maybe those crazy hippies had forgotten to turn the sign off. When a pulled up to the intercom a friendly voice spoke up “Can I help you?” Apparently they WERE open! The menu wasn’t very large, there are really only 6 major salad options to choose from: cobb, greek, caesar, southwest, spinach, and something called Sharon’s. You can choose any of these salads with meat or without AND you can choose to have them as a salad or a wrap. Whatever salad/wrap you choose, you get a further choice of 10 or so dressings to go with it. I went with a chicken cobb wrap with blue cheese vinaigrette dressing. I was already salivating as I drove up to the pick up window. The friendly hippie greeted me again and took my $6 (seriously, it was only $6). I sat at the window for slightly longer than I would at Taco Smell before my wrap was handed to me.

The wrap was tightly packed in white paper and the dressing was in a separate plastic container. Since I was driving, I figured I’d dig into the sandwich as-is to avoid a dressing mess. From the first bite, I was in love. All of the veggies were fresh and crisp. The romaine and cucumbers had a substantial crunch, the carrots slivers were still firm and shapely, and the avocado was creamy and still tasted green! The chicken and bacon was not at all overwhelming and the whole wrap was flecked with the pungent hit of blue cheese. These meaty “extras” in no way detracted from the real star of the sandwich, those fresh veggies. The whole sandwich together was so creamy, fresh and perfect that I didn’t even feel the need to add the fattening dressing. I did decide, for the sake of you readers, to try the dressing, just so I could review it (of course). It had a slightly over-mayonnaisey taste, but was overall very pleasant. It wasn’t very greasy and had a subtle blue cheese flavor. It didn’t particularly add or detract from the wrap, so I decided to finish it without; who needs those extra calories??

Overall: Awesome wraps and salads with fresh greens

Mariah: 9

Laura's note: After Mariah's glowing recommendation, I decided to try the place myself. I love the idea of actually having a healthy option when it comes to getting something on the go.

When I first arrived, the hipster working the drive through acted really annoyed with me. I couldn't figure out quite how the whole thing worked fast enough for him. After he snottily explained that the left top portion of the menu listed choices for tortilla types, I debated in my head just driving off. But cooler heads prevailed and I explained to him that it was my first time at Baby Greens, and he seemed to soften considerably. I hurried up with my choices and ordered Sharon's veggie in a tomato basil tortilla with green goddess dressing. Sharon's veggie contains romaine lettuce, baby spinach, pecans, avocado, carrots, tomatoes, cucumbers and red onions. I received my order quickly (and for about $5) and drove home.

In the safety of my own house I decided to dig in to the wrap. My first thoughts were awful as all I got was a large mouthful of tortilla, as you do in the first bite of most wraps. However, as I peeled some of the tortilla away, I was left with a very delicious vegetable treat. The pecans were a bit difficult as they seemed to shake loose and fall out every time I picked up my dinner, but such is the nature of the wrap, and I do not fault Baby Greens for this. The avocado was evident but not plentiful, and served as a suitable creamy fusion device for the rest of the vegetables. The green goddess dressing was creamy as well and complimented the ensemble. I finished every bite and then went back and sopped up the remaining dressing with the tortilla.

Overall: A very tasty healthy meal for a great price, but don't be fooled, you will be treated as a fast food customer.

Laura ~ 8