Monday, August 16, 2010

Fresh Bites on Sunset Ain't So Fresh

For what seems like years, Fresh Bites has been heralding it's imminent arrival on Sunset Blvd, just blocks from my apartment.

Promising salads, sandwiches, pizzas and free wi-fi, I dreamt that I'd found my new home away from home; a cozy, eco-friendly cafe where I could work and scarf and wile away the hours.

This afternoon, Mahdi and I set out for lunch, debating between testing the Fresh Bites waters or charging for Papa George's Hy-Mart Deli (my new obsession) for their insanely delicious, garlic and fresh herb-laced Middle Eastern sandwich delights. Opting for convenience (we were three blocks away and both starving), we decided to enter uncharted territory and go for Fresh Bites.

That was our first mistake.

Entering the sleek space, designed by architect Osvaldo Maiozzi (Rivera, Angelini Osteria), we were both struck by the clean bamboo lines, the succulents planted into tables, the cafe-meets-lounge vibe the place gives off. Tres chic.

We ordered a Surfin' Tuna sandwich; tuna salad, marinated artichokes, fresh basil, arugula, dijon and roasted garlic pesto on scooped whole wheat baguette, which they tell you is lower in carbs, and an Edgy Veggie salad; hearts of palm, sliced button mushrooms, garbanzo beans, sun dried tomato, corn, parmesan and baby mix greens, dressed with balsamic oil, threw down the $27 bucks they cost (apprently fresh equals pricey) and took a seat at a rickety table outside that rocked and rolled for the rest of our meal but we were too lazy to move from.

Before anyone brought us water (they only brought one glass to start), we were presented with two complimentary croissants, one regular, one almond. It was a nice touch, though perhaps better for a breakfast crowd than lunch clientele.

When the food arrived (sorry there aren't any pictures, my camera got drowned just before we got to lunch), our sandwich was a wash of beige with a few blips of green basil and arugula, the accompanying salad undressed and looking like it had been plopped out of a bag onto our plate, scattered with some parched shredded carrots, also industrial in nature. The salad was slightly more appealing to the eye, but the first bite was all we needed to know we'd made a colossal mistake by passing up Hy-Mart.

The hearts of palm were so mushy, you couldn't differentiate them from parmesan, the corn was canned (what's fresh about that??? And in summer?!?! Sacrilege!), and the sun-dried tomatoes tasted like refrigerator.

While the tuna sandwich was slightly more appealing thanks to the brightness of basil and few gloppy mounds of pure minced garlic we'd stumble upon, but it was still thick and dry, offering little flavor beyond a whiff of pesto and too much salt.

After months of anticipation, Fresh Bites was a thorough disappointment.

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