I really wanted to hate this place based on the name alone. To an extent, I still do.This location is the first Orange County Freshii, an international chain focused on custom-built fresh food. Nestled in the Bluffs shopping center (a stone’s throw from UCI), its main competition in the Bluffs (Chipotle, Daphne’s) also focuses on high-quality food with fresh ingredients. Its strength is that it doesn’t tie itself down to one cuisine, which gives it an opportunity to stand apart from its rivals.The mantra of Freshii is “Fresh Food, Custom Built, Fast,” and it definitely hits 2 out of 3 of these goals.
Upon entering you’re welcomed in with rows of freshly cut ingredients ready to be thrown together. Fresh? Check.The main menu is divided into sections such as wraps, salads, and soups, with dishes that already have a fixed selection of ingredients. That’s not why you come to Freshii though. You want what you want the way you want it. Freshii knows this, so across from the register is a pile of clipboards with a standardized test sheet of154 check boxes (I counted) where you can customize your meal of choice to death, then hand it to the cashier. Custom built? Check.
My friend and I are boring/lazy/hungry, so we choose from the regular menu. I go with the Fiesta Burrito, she chooses the Spicy Lemongrass Soup. We are the only customers in the place, yet we wait 15 minutes for our meals. Fast? Not so much (though this did give me time to count the check boxes on the ordering sheet). The burrito was a fiesta of brown rice. Maybe an individual speck of corn here and there, but the other ingredients (chicken, beans, avocado, ) had somehow congealed into a giant shaft of carbs. I went back to the register to ask for some hot sauce on the side, which took 5 minutes for Sriracha squirted into a cup. Again, not so much on the fast. My friend’s soup, however, was fucking delicious. Legitimately spicy and flavorful, packed to the brim with fresh veggies, grilled chicken, and perfectly al dente rice noodles. 16oz of happiness.
While it was a somewhat stressful experience, I would give it another chance. There are definitely kinks that they need to work out in terms of preparation time and methods, as well as the somewhat baffling ordering system. Their breakfast menu has potential, and that lemongrass soup is something I could see myself craving on a cold, rainy day.
Still hate that name though.
Rating: Mile-High Club First Class Business Coach
Check ’em out at:
1320 Bison Ave
Newport Beach, CA 92660
(photo via piccsy)