The finger to the land of the chains
What? The "land of the free?"
Whoever told you that is your enemy
Now something must be done
About vengeance, a badge, and a gun
Another Tuesday, another Taste. After subjecting myself to torture via blandness last week, it was time for something different and definitely not a something cheeseburger and fries.
Freshii is a food chain I know absolutely nothing about, beyond the sudden appearance of locations everywhere throughout Toronto. So, have some history! The founder/CEO Matthew Corrin was supposedly, while interning in the fashion industry, inspired by small New York delis to create a healthy food option with likewise fresh ingredients but better branding. The dude has since been featured in magazines, on Dragon's Den and other business-like shows etc, and he's only five years older than me. Great, now I feel just awesome... this better be damn good.
There are now over 300 locations of Freshii worldwide (according to their website) but their established headquarters are in Toronto, so this is kinda a local success story, kinda. Enough of that though, I was hungry damnit! Just recently has Freshii begun offering tacos, which caught my particular attention (otherwise their deal seems mostly salads, salad-like bowls, various wraps and other options far too healthy sounding for me to even process). Three tacos for 14 bucks (with tax) will not ever seem overpriced to me (it's a freaking taco... I could eat six as a snack) but this also seems to be the consistent rate among most well regarded Mexican restaurants throughout town.
Can these Freshii tacos consider themselves amongst that elite company? Nope. Okay... they're bad then? Also nope. They're in that pesky B- middle ground of "good... maybe quite good... but not outstanding".
There are significant positives: the (flour) tortillas are soft, firm and flexible (dry, flaky tortillas are a crime against the public) while the quantity of taco fillings definitely lean into the "overstuffed" category, also a good thing. There's a sturdy balance between chicken, black beans, avocado, diced tomatoes (truly the messiest part of this equation) where one doesn't overpower the other for more than a bite or two... meanwhile the light touch of shredded old cheddar and cilantro provide a steady compliment. The salsa verde, thankfully on the side since there's no space for it in the taco itself... brings a different version of sweet acidity than the diced tomatoes. Frankly this salsa seems more ideal as a dip for chips than drizzled on this particular taco (it's the same side salsa regardless of which taco you order...)
The biggest weakness... well that it's merely good. I found each bite tasty and with enough different flavours to make each chomp diversely enjoyable, but there is something notably lacking and it's probably the chicken. Pulled chicken can be unbelievably good when slow cooked with all its skin, dark meat juices, additional spices and peppers or whatever you fancy. Freshii is "healthy" food though, and so this chicken is all light breast meat... which is a bit more challenging to find juiciness and flavour in. This is completely ok, and the chipotle sauce exists just enough to keep the meat from being irritatingly dry... I just would've liked more seasoning, or something suggesting it'd been slow cooked with other elements just to give a hint of secondary flavour. The "chipotle" part of this is barely noticeable at all: there is a hint of spice in these tacos which I suspect are from the black beans.
Overall... I enjoyed it... though not enough to consciously seek Freshii out as a taco craving option. I joke about this being "healthy" food, but the biggest positive might just be that sensation of feeling sorta satisfied (helped by the portion size) and yet not gross or sluggish afterwards (you can tell I've been reviewing cheeseburgers a lot lately). By my observation the least healthiest thing here was the shredded cheese and that was essentially little more than a garnish.
I suspect this is more so a result of ingredient combination rather than actual quality, but aside from the black beans (which were really good) most of this didn't wow me with any exceptional level of flavour or freshness. Perhaps I went in thinking it'd either be bland and expensive, or truly invigorating and delicious (thus pricey)... damn you Freshii! It's way harder to write these things when something falls inbetween those two extremes.
Burnt Ends -- I meant to share my random review of Popeye's Flounder sandwich in the link dumpster last week, but oh well here it is! Aside from that... I keep going off with the intention of trying a new restaurant in my neighbourhood but the hours never work out. They're either way too busy (Saturday nights at 6:30pm are busy hours??? Man I've been outta the game for a while...), or they're a food truck I can't remember the name of and I'm not even certain they even exist outside of my imagination. Hopefully I have something new soon. Otherwise... well I'm thinking about writing something non-music or food related, might share a chapter I wrote back in February of a potential larger fiction project. I dunno, stay tuned! Same West Collier time, same West Collier channel.
Also... this is the 18th ever Tuesday Taste! Mentioning that only because... lets just say I have something special and fun planned for numero 20...
Hey Doug -- You're the Whopper of political leaders. All sauce without anything resembling substance. Apologizes... I'm sorry... that's an insult to the Whopper.
Tuesday Tune -- I was all set to queue up an Iggy Pop track. I love the Stooges (Fun House is a Top 10 album of all time for me) and Iggy's solo career is pretty damn interesting. But instead... here's a band I wish I'd listened to more 15 years ago instead of... 15 days ago? Ah whatever... this guitar hook is so good, blending metal and funk seamlessly, while the lyrics still are relevant almost three decades later, which is both impressive and sad.
That's it for me! Goodbye forever... wait I mean until next week! Sometimes these weeks tend to blend together with forever... must've got them mixed up. Seriously though until next time, be safe, stay healthy, treat each other with kindness, stop at f*ing STOP signs (don't get me started) but most of all... don't spill that damn mustard.