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Restaurant Tue Jul 01 2008
I walked in toward a line of people wrapping away from the counter at Freshii, and then I was led into place by one of many helpful greeters. I was about to taste creamy tahini sauce over steamy brown basmati rice. She asked me if this was my first time. It was. She had stepped back and pulled a clipboard with an order form from on or near a wall. Three sections on the paper were calling out to be completed, plus a spot for my initials in two boxes in the upper left corner. This was a task that I thought that I could certainly accomplish with no real effort, but I was wrong.
Just as I'd breezed through the first part of Step 1, the order form illuded me like a surprise question on a high school final exam. I'd wanted a bowl - not a salad, salad-wrap or soup. That much I knew. But I had no idea what to write in the "type" section next to "chef designed." I could skip down to Step 2 and choose my own toppings, but this is not what I'd come in for. I'd seen something on their online menu that looked good. My helpful greeter was still here, and dashed off to bring me a large, glossy menu with the listings. She was like a temporary personal assistant, filling in the rest of the form for me when I couldn't fend for myself. A check in Step 3 went for chili powder, another check for tahini sauce, and "regular" got circled to indicate I didn't want to deviate from the standard amount of sauce. Soft tender avocado chunks made me a fan of the Power House bowl immediately, as did the optional chili powder, but they could have mixed the sauce more to distribute it evenly throughout the rice, tofu, chickpeas, sunflower seeds, tomatoes and red onions. It was perfect on top, and it all tasted super fresh, but the sauce wasn't plentiful towards the bottom. Maybe I just needed to check the box for "heavy" sauce, and then try to mix it myself without overflowing the tight constraints of the little box it came in.
I handed my form to someone at one end of the counter, strolled in line to the other side to pay, and then waited for my initials to be called. I'd chosen a bag of spicy salt and peppered crinkle cut Kettle Chips and a bag of dark chocolate covered coffee beans from an extensive selection of chips, fruit, popcorn, Cliff bars and licorice.
Outside, a band played as I sat at a patio table aside the lawn out front at 311 S. Wacker and gazed up at the Sears Tower next door. The music continues through the summer Wednesdays from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Here's the plan, from building management: July 2 - Mr. Blotto; July 9 - Maryann and the Professors; July 16 - Diver; July 23 - Goodfoot; July 30 - Waterhouse; August 6 - Jack Straw; August 13 - Angel in the Solar System; August 20 - Gareth Woods Band; August 27 - Lynn Jordan & the Shivers.