THE FIRST TIME I ATE AT HS. GREEN FRESH FOOD KITCHEN A FEW MONTHS AGO, AT THE INVITATION OF MY FRIEND LEIGH, SHE MADE ME PROMISE I WOULDN’T TELL ANYONE ABOUT IT. “NO FACEBOOK CHECK-INS, EITHER, PLEASE,” SHE INSTRUCTED. “I WANT TO KEEP THIS PLACE A SECRET.”
For good reason, it turns out. The year-old HS Green, tucked away in an ever-evolving strip center (locals will remember it once being Windsor Plaza) behind The Galleria on Richmond, is a bright, cheerful and welcome addition to the neighborhood. Think salads, wraps, pizzas and more – with vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options for those so inclined. They also list a calorie count for every item on the menu, and you can even customize your order to your preference. If you’re into clean eating and fresh, fast fare, HS Green is going to be your joint. The secret is out.
Everything – from cold-pressed juices to roasted chickens to baked goods to dressings and sauces – is made onsite in HS Green’s efficient kitchen. The restaurant is open for breakfast, lunch (counter service), happy hour (well-priced beer and wine at the centrally located bar) and dinner (table service) – with weekend brunch starting soon. So let’s settle into a bright green upholstered booth and get to ordering.
Where to start? For me, virtuously, with a selection of cold-pressed juices. First up was watermelon, lime and mint (153 calories) – a crisp and light concoction that would make a very refreshing afterworkout drink (there’s also a 24 Hour Fitness in the same center). On to pear, cucumber and ginger (161 calories) – also delicious and a balance of cool and spicy. I felt myself getting healthier with every gulp. Finally, I finished up with the carrot, apple and ginger juice – its rich orange color and tangy apple flavors, the perfect fall sip.
Next up? Possibly my favorite thing I tasted this time – the truffle-infused roasted mushroom and chicken pizza. OK, it goes a little off the low-cal track with a whopping 1075 calories, but man cannot live on lettuce and juice alone. This man, at least.
Back to the pizza. Delicious thin, crispy crust, a gorgeous slick of truffle oil, garlic white sauce, spinach, goat cheese, those roasted mushrooms and sliced chicken breast – it was everything I love in life on a plate. Cooked in a stone oven for three minutes, the pizza comes to the table piping hot. This one is worth the indulgence!
I’m one of those people who thinks you can really judge a restaurant by its buffalo chicken wrap. And in this case, HS Green wins again. Weighing in at 661 calories, this spicy, tangy handful features crispy chicken tossed in a vinegary buffalo sauce, romaine, cucumbers, tomatoes, celery and red onion revved-up with the restaurant’s own jalapeno ranch dressing. It’s a perfect lunch option.
Maybe you’d rather start with a starter. Then by all means order the guacamame, a rich and chunky blend of housemade guacamole and edamame, served with chips that are also made onsite. Or kick it up a notch with pickle and jalapeno fries, a combo of dill and butter pickles and jalapeños battered and fried and served with jalapeño ranch sauce. These would also go well with a blue cheese dressing. Your call.
When the weather finally turns, you’ll be able to meet brisk fall temps head-on with a bowl of HS Green’s hearty turkey chili, served with scallions, cheese and a side of chips. Or go a lot lighter with the traditional chicken tortilla soup or the beautiful chicken, mushroom and leek soup, a clean and satisfying protein-and-vegetable concoction guaranteed to warm you up without filling you up.
Finally, save room for dessert. I sure didn’t, but on my next trip (tomorrow?) I’ll be ordering the deliciously original thin crust Nutella® pizza, topped with bananas, strawberries, mint, powdered sugar and whipped cream. This one is also not on the low-cal side of the menu, but virtue can be overrated. Indulge. You can eat a salad tomorrow.