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I am an Operations Manager at a snack food company and I hold a Master's Degree in Food Studies from New York University. By night I hang out with my schnauzer and explore the city's newest, strangest, most delicious food and drinks.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Review: Fresh Grill Cafe Meal Delivery

I like to cook, but who wouldn't enjoy sometime off from planning, shopping, cooking and cleaning? I have fantasized abut having a private chef, so when I saw a deal online to have 3 meals a day delivered for 5 days at $100, I decided to give it a try.

Fresh Grill Cafe is just starting out and is based in New York. Nutrisystem is probably the best known meal delivery program. Like Nutrisystem, Fresh Grill Cafe offers flexibility. Your plan can include many combinations of meals and snacks, can be completely vegetarian, and offers calorie control whether you are looking to lose, maintain or gain weight (I chose a maintenance plan). Unlike Nutrisystem, all the food from FGC is fresh and delivered daily in a cooler. Here is a look at some of the meals I had last week. 

For breakfast I received oatmeal (x3), pancakes, and a fruit and nut parfait. 

The outside of the container had cooking instructions for the oatmeal pictured above, which I followed. There was a strange spice mix (and maybe dried milk) and after cooking, the oats were still raw. Considering that it is easy and inexpensive to make microwave oatmeal, I was not impressed with this offering. 

Above is the fruit and nut parfait, which is even more pink and slimy looking in person. I thought this might just taste like artificially flavored yogurt, but the pink creamy mess was the worst breakfast I have ever experienced. It tasted like a combination of chalk and cough syrup. 

I tried some of the vegetarian options offered by FGC. Here is a picture of a "chicken" (seitan) white bean pasta I was offered for lunch on Monday. 

Unfortunately I don't enjoy seitan, and after heating this up int he microwave, it had a terrible, rubbery texture. The beans and pasta were overcooked to a mushy consistency. It is worth noting that while FGC offers a vegetarian menu, that menu is essentially the normal menu with soy and/or seitan substitutions for meat.

Luckily on Wednesday I had a much better lunch. The screaming Yankee bison burger held up well in the microwave. The burger had a nice spiciness incorporated in the meat and was topped with a chipotle sauce. The burger gave me hope for the rest of my meals!

Before my meal delivery began, I had a consultation over the phone when I selected my meals and discussed my preferences. Unfortunately, two of the meals I received for dinner were not what I ordered. When I complained to Fresh Grill Cafe, they immediately offered to make up for it by giving me extra meals on Saturday. 

One dinner they got right was Chicken Parmesan. My side of  grilled squash was simple and enjoyable. The pasta was cooked to a nice consistency. However, as you can see, the "parm" was very light on sauce and cheese, and the chicken just didn't taste good. The breading had a stale flavor. 

To sum up my experience with Fresh Grill Cafe, here are the pros and cons. 

  • Convenient
  • Well priced
  • Fresh, not frozen
  • Calorie controlled
  • Friendly customer service
  • Not much variety
  • Limited vegetarian options
  • No ingredients listed 
  • Wasteful packaging (15 plastic containers!)
  • Just doesn't taste good
  • Not dependable (bad cooking instructions, wrong meals received)
The bottom line for me is taste. It will always be a challenge for a home meal delivery system to offer freshness and tasty food. For now, I'll keep cooking for myself. 

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the review and pics. I was interested in trying out the meals but I, like you, will continue cooking.