You have to admire chef Matthew Kenney’s unbridled enthusiasm for opening restaurants. Though Heirloom and Blue/Green Organic Juice Cafe were both unsuccessful, Kenney seems to be making a comeback at Free Foods NYC. With business partner Peter Schatzberg, Kenney has launched this organic answer to fast food – a quickly burgeoning trend in NYC. Though this eatery is located in the heart of midtown, the space feels more like a Vermont country store. Shelves are lined with organic sodas and wicker barrels are stocked with organic chocolates and chips.
While the container (pictured right) may look like plastic, it’s made entirely out of 100% sustainable, corn-based material. Thus, I was quite skeptical that the food would transcend any “tastes good for healthy food” expectations. Well, it does.
In fact, the spice-rubbed filet mignon is excellent. Juicy slivers of filet get wrapped around a sweet caramelized potato, all of which are finished with a tangy caper parsley pesto. It’s offered at the market table, which features a seasonally rotating selection of dishes, including salmon with shitake mushrooms and pomegranate seeds as well as farro pasta with fiery chicken, pancetta and fennel pollen. Other than Moroccan-spiced carrots that had a slightly medicinal aftertaste, nearly every dish I sampled was tremendously flavorful and 100% organic. Though Kenney seems to be rediscovering meat and fish, we noticed the vegan raw lasagna he launched at Pure Food & Wine has resurfaced here.
Free Foods NYC also features a soup station with a tasty roasted red pepper soup as well as a large roster of paninis, including a BBQ pork panini. Skip the gluten free chickpea brownie and grab a chewy macadamia nut blondie spiked with maple sugar.
Address: 18 West 45th St., btwn. 5th & 6th Aves.
Hours: Mon-Thu, 7a.m.-8p.m., Friday, 7a.m.- 5p.m.
Until we eat again,
**Don’t forget to subscribe for Restaurant Girl’s Weekly Newsletter**