Fresh dish

Cruda Café isn't the only eco-minded cantina with dreams of global expansion. Launched five years ago in the TD Centre.


Cruda Café isn’t the only eco-minded cantina with dreams of global expansion. Launched five years ago in the TD Centre food court as Lettuce Eatery, Freshii (140 Spadina, at Richmond, 416-203-8456, freshii.com, NNN) now numbers 14 outlets in the GTA, another three in Chicago and franchises in New York City, Los Angeles, Vienna and Dubai about to open this spring. Not bad for a local salad slinger.

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Since ditching the lame name, Freshii has also streamlined its operation considerably and now comes with a green-minded platform: “Everything you take from our stores either biodegrades naturally into the earth or is easily recycled” and “Our set-up is simple – no energy-hungry dishwashers, hoods, ranges or ovens” just two of its planks.

Though the Freshii card features the usual lineup of soups, salads and wraps, it’s the customizable rice bowls that set it apart from the competition. Start with a basic bed of brown rice, ($5.95), then pile on as many of nearly 50 optional toppings as you like, 20 of them free. I go belatedly festive with oven-roasted turkey ($1.75), fresh blueberries, dried cranberries (75 cents each) and a ton of chopped-up carrot, broccoli, red onion and crispy wontons, all dressed with a spicy low-fat salsa.

Another session, I start with grilled tofu ($1.50), then pile on sliced avocado (75 cents) and an alternatively powered truckload of chickpeas, bean sprouts, sunflower seeds and edamame before sensibly dousing the lot in dilled cucumber vinaigrette. Portions are prodigious, too, the average rice bowl combo weighing well over a pound – enough for two nutritious noshes.

Better yet, Freshii lets you BYOB – bring your own bowl.

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