By RICHARD DAVID CHAMBERLAIN
A week ago Sunday was National Earth Day, and what better way to celebrate, we thought, than eat at Energy Kitchen, an eco-friendly restaurant with a fresh approach to a healthy diet.
The idea here is a simple one: everything on the menu is 500 calories or less. Nothing is fried—not even the fries! They are baked, and so is everything else, unless it’s steamed or grilled. Think of it as fast food, without the junk element, and you’ve got the picture of Energy Kitchen.
Located next to CVS Pharmacy in a spot that once housed a chicken joint, the first impression of Energy Kitchen is efficiency. Green, white and stainless steel is the color scheme here. Three flatscreen monitors display the menu, which is broken down into categories: Breakfast, Salads, Wraps, Burgers, Entrees, Sides, Snacks and Beverages.
We opted for a Veggie Tuna wrap on multi-grain ($6.49) and a Sirloin Steakhouse Burger ($6.49) on a whole wheat bun. We were given a beeper that carried the label “Please Chill While We Grill.” At Energy Kitchen, everything carries a message it seems. The plastic cups hark “Do the Math. Nothing over 500 Calories.” The window signs offer “Our Promise to You,” which essentially was a pledge from founder Anthony Leone that there were “no hidden temptations and no hidden calories” in a place where even the drinks are all no-calorie favorites. The Veggie Tuna wrap was a thicklypacked pleasure dome of flavor, that defied its listed calorie count of 342.
It contained a tasty mix of cucumbers, celery, onions, peppers, lettuce tomato and low-fat mayonnaise with enough tuna to make you want to immediately swim upstream, and order another. The Sirloin Steakhouse Burger came in at 413 calories. The juicy meat was stacked high with caramelized onions and steak sauce. The bun was steamed and the overall experience left the stomach full and the taste buds singing.
As we shared a bag of 151 calorie air-baked fries ($1.99) which could have used a bit more time in the oven, we checked the nearby tables and found happy campers enjoying an enormous Buffalo Chicken Burger ($6.49) which the accompanying fanning of the lips suggested was very spicy; the signature Kitchen Chopped Salad ($7.99) with chicken, scallions, tomatoes, blue cheese, turkey bacon bits and lots of romaine; plus an energy drink called the Vaccinator ($4.99), containing orange juice, strawberries, bananas, vitamin C and non-fat vanilla yoghurt.
As we rolled out, doggie bags in hand, and completely satisfied with our experience, we were surprised to discover the number of unbussed dirty tables, scraps of food and paper on the floor, and a spilled soda that had been marked by a yellow plastic “Caution” tent with a marginal attempt at clean-up. We mentioned the fact to the employees chatting amongst themselves at the register, and got cheery smiles but no obvious action to correct the situation.
Oh well. We all know good help is hard to find, and we’re sure Energy Kitchen will work out the kinks. Nevertheless, the concept is a solid one, and in a city where the obesity rate is clearly on the rise, this is one restaurant that deserves to be packed for good-intentions alone.
We can’t wait to return to try the Bison & Egg Breakfast Wrap ($4.99). With five egg whites and chopped premium bison, you just know that one is a winner—just like Energy Kitchen itself. Go–and tell them Florida Agenda sent you.Energy Kitchen
1 N Federal Hwy
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33301