June 25, 2012


We've been running around the entire month of June, which has left us no time for actual sit-down restaurant meals.  This past weekend was no different, as we spent a few days in New Jersey with a brief trip to NYC.  Our initial goal was to grab a quick dinner from a food truck on our way out, but many of them close early on Friday.  However, our needs were met by the newly opened Honeygrow.  Located at the corner of 16th and Sansom Streets, this fast casual spot is helping to fill the widening niche of quick, local/organic, healthy food to go.

"Keep Calm and Grow On"
While the seating area of Honeygrow is spacious enough to fit a few dozen, it seems the majority of their business (at least in the early evening) is for those of us who are eating on the run.  The ordering process took me quite some time, as the touchscreen machines were really entertaining.  They prompt you to begin your order by choosing one of the three main items sold at Honeygrow- salads, stir frys, and cold drinks.  A sort of random combination, but honestly, it works.  Want a hot meal? Get a stir fry. Interested in fulfilling your vegetable quota for the day? Pick a salad.  Need a quick, healthy snack? A smoothie fits the bill.

Honeygrow has some pre-set combinations for each of the three main offerings, but you're welcome to switch out, add, or subtract any of the other ingredients they have on hand, or create your own-- all of which is very easy to do through the ordering machine.  Pictures and descriptions help guide you, and carefully track your order along the way.

Once your order is complete and you've paid (just swipe your credit card), your food is prepared at the appropriate "station."  Two small problems popped up: first, the smoothie I had ordered included mango, but I was called up and informed that the mango that day was a bit underripe.  The employee offered to substitute whichever fruit I liked-- ensuring I had a quality drink.  A minute later, I was handed two boxes at the stir-fry counter, though I had only ordered one.  A mixup had clearly occurred, which was quickly caught and the stir-fryer insisted on correcting the mistake.  However, I was fine with taking two "wrong" meals instead of my one correct order, but the honest and sincere apologies were much appreciated.

Fruit for smoothies and the "honeybar": three types of honey
My salad of choice was the "Kantan," a mix of a huge variety of veggies- cucumbers, radishes, scallions, carrots, bamboo shoots, red onion, orange slices, and bell peppers, topped with crispy wontons and roasted shrimp ($10).  I loved the variety of colors and flavors involved, but knew the red onion and bamboo shoots wouldn't fly with J, so opted to substitute avocado and grape tomatoes instead-- at no extra charge.

The salad is made in a large mixing bowl before being packed into a plastic container, ensuring even distribution of all the ingredients.  Honeygrow offers seemingly endless dressing choices, and even gives you the option of light, heavy, or on the side.  I opted for the Green Goddess, on the side.  Definitely one of the funnest salads I've had in awhile-- and while the price was a little steep, it would be WAY more expensive to buy each of the ingredients involved.  Plus, it's enormous!

I initially ordered the Smoked Oyster Stir Fry, but opted to get a spicier sauce (each sauce has a clearly indicated heat level).  Instead, I was given the Smoked Oyster with its original sauce, as well as the Spicy Garlic Stir Fry (the name of the sauce and the fry are the same, causing the confusion).  In the SGSF, bell peppers, bamboo shoots, onions, broccoli, and chunks of free range chicken breast are tossed with a pile of egg noodles, parsley, and of course, the spicy sauce.

They hit that range of flavor that I have a hard time recreating at home, giving every bite just the right amount of garlicky, gingery heat.  The veggies are all well cooked, but the chicken seemed a little tough.  I imagine they don't cook the meat to order (that would take forever!), but they could be a bit more careful not to overcook it.  Even so, I was definitely happy they messed up my order so I could try this combination on the house.

The Smoked Oyster Stir Fry ($9.75) has several of our favorite ingredients, including scallions, meaty shitake mushrooms, bok choy, and eggplant, again mixed with egg noodles, but featuring "naturally raised" pork.  The vegetables were the real star here, although as with the Spicy Garlic, the sauce shone through as well.

A bit more on the soupy side, the dark, thick sauce gave a deep, salty richness to the whole box- I do think that this sauce belongs with these ingredients.  Unfortunately, overcooked meat was once again a problem, ruining the flavor of what I am sure is high-quality pork.  I honestly could make a meatless dish here, save a few dollars, and enjoy my meal just the same!  On that note, you can also order your meal with rice noodles or brown rice if you're gluten free.

We ended our meal on a sweet note, sharing one of the best smoothies I've had in a long time ($4).  The concoction I initially ordered contained mango, pineapple, fresh mint, and fresh ginger, and blended with ice, would have been a tropical treat.  However, I opted to add in both strawberries and blueberries instead of the mango, and the flavor combination actually worked well.  The berries provided their sweetness, while the pineapple added some tartness.  The mint and ginger gave it an extra depth of flavor, and made it even more refreshing.

For a quick dinner, Honeygrow really hit the spot.  In and out in under ten minutes (most of which was spent studying the touchscreen), and with packaging that made it easy to eat on the run.  If I worked in Center City, this would definitely go on my list of lunch spots- and I can see many smoothie runs on the horizon.  With just a few items offered, it's incredible how much variety they offer, and the fact that many of their ingredients are local and organic make the slightly higher prices worth it.

1601 Sansom Street


  1. I work about a half of a block from Honeygrow. I got a salad from there last week that was AMAZING! I totally agree - the price is a bit steep but you get what you pay for. You could tell they were high quality ingredients and they didn't jip you on anything. Love!

  2. Can we please get lots of smoothies this summer from here? Looks good!

  3. This is one of my favorite healthy eats! Their egg white noodles are amazing!