This is a restaurant that certainly doesn’t need to “grow” on me. Ever since I moved back to Miami this past summer I’ve watched with wonder as Grown was constructed just a few minutes from my house. I had read all about the concept from basketball player Ray Allen and his wife, Shannon. They were reportedly looking to open a spot with healthy fast-food options. Friday was opening day.
There was already a long line on day one and Ray Allen himself was helping expedite food. I don’t know much about Allen, but was glad to see he truly is involved in the restaurant and not just an investor. The only thing more I would have liked to see is a smile on his face. He wasn’t even posing for pictures with guests, which the PR person in me wasn’t happy about. I would have told him, at least the first day, smile and take pictures with guests. After all you want people to blanket Instagram, FB and Twitter with the news that your restaurant is open. The more publicity on this the better!
As for the menu there are a couple of vegetarian or vegan options. I was going to order the Homemade Falafel dinner, but they were out of falafel (sigh). I wasn’t thrilled they were out of something on their first day, BUT since it was their first day I’ll give them a break. I instead opted for a whole wheat wrap with seared portobello mushrooms in a style they call Havana “Vibe.” It came with fresh greens, corn and black bean salsa, avocado, plantain strips and salsa fresca with a cilantro lime vinaigrette. The menu also says it comes with white cheddar cheese, but there wasn’t any cheese on mine (not sure why) so I believe this was vegan. The plantain strips also seemed to be missing from my wrap. All that said this was DELICIOUS. I would definitely get it again. I can’t say I’d get it every day though because it was $16. It’s $11 for a basic wrap and then the protein adds anywhere from $5 – $7. My “protein” was the mushrooms and those were an extra $5. I had read the Allens were trying to do healthy fast food at affordable prices so the $16 price tag on a wrap is rather stunning. It’s even more expensive than the super hot “By Chloe” in NYC where the most expensive menu item is $10.95. Miami prices should NOT be more than NYC prices so I am worried the prices will scare people away. I would probably come back here several times a week were it not for the high bill.
I am still looking forward to trying several other menu items on future visits including the Falafel entree with Green Beans, Caramelized Onions and Toasted Almonds, Mediterranean Quinoa Salad with Chimichurri. A personal portion of that is $14, but if you want it family style it’s $42. I haven’t been to McDonald’s in years, but I know you can serve an entire family there for under $20 so I’m not sure Grown will ever win over that crowd when family style entrees range from $42-$54. Those prices just don’t jive with the fast-food world. They might be better off calling themselves quick-serve so you don’t expect low prices.
For those who aren’t vegan or vegetarian there is free-range rotisserie chicken, grilled shrimp, grilled wild caught salmon and slow cooked grassfed brisket. Other sides include esquites Mexican corn, farmers market vegetables, grilled asparagus and sauteed broccoli and roasted garlic brussel sprouts. It looks like those veggies can only be served with entrees, NOT sure if you can order them by themselves.
Breakfast is also on the menu with smoothies, juices and a couple gluten-free options including blueberry pancakes and muffins (I had the banana one, which is also vegan). I was happy to see an Acai bowl on the menu, but again the $12 price tag is steep. My husband just had one at Acai nation in Los Angeles and it was $9.95. Breakfast options at fast-food spots should definitely not be above $10. Also there is an Egg Ohm-Wich option (love the Ohm part, very clever). You can also order these as an Ohm-let. There are four “vibes” to choose from here and I found it strange that three out of the four include regular old bacon. Not even a turkey bacon for those who avoid pork, but really what I would have liked to see is vegetarian bacon.
I also would love for Grown to consider adding tempeh as one of their proteins. I think it would work great in all their options. I’d also like to see a v or something on their menu that tells you what is vegan.
The verdict? The food I had so far was really fabulous. If you can afford it run, don’t walk to this new restaurant. If you can support it I think you should because we want to see more places around like this. While you are there though ask them to make their menu more affordable. We want this food to be available to people in all income groups. If everyone has access to this kind of food we truly could see a shift in the fast-food industry.