Feed your stomach and your soul… Ugh I know. But it’s true!
FareStart is a downtown hot spot for lunch breakers looking to give back and eat well. By the look and taste of the food, you would never know that behind the kitchen doors are men and women training to be chefs. FareStart offers a sixteen-week training course to disadvantaged individuals looking for a second chance. Most have had zero professional experience in the kitchen, and all of them are either homeless or at risk of becoming homeless. This hands-on program is a brilliant way to give people the skills they need to start a career and move forward with their lives.
Specials menu: grilled asparagus salad (ordered w/o egg) $12.95
Farro, asparagus, tomato, smoked onion, spring pea toast, preserved lemon vinaigrette
Though this dish had some similarities to a salad, they were few and far between. I’d call it more of a chilled veggie farro-sotto. A healthy serving of the ancient grain gives a thick padding to the plate leaving just enough room for headliners. Chilled, grilled asparagus and large chunks of tomato add freshness while the alder wood smoked onions give an unexpected earthy crunch. The four ingredients mingle together naturally like old friends with one important thread tying them all together – preserved lemon vinaigrette. The sweet, citrusy dressing brings this dish to life, so don’t even think about ordering it dry.
Roasted beet salad (ordered w/o cheese) $9.50
Roasted beets, organic greens, candied walnuts, apple cider vinaigrette
Let me start off by saying, whoever decided to add fried, salted beet shavings to the salad, you my friend, are a genius. I am a lover of beet salads, so admittedly I’m pretty easy to please, but with the addition of those crunchy little numbers, this one is on my top 5 for sure. It’s simple and humble with a splash of beet naughtiness, or naughty beetness – whatever you’re into. Juicy, roasted beets mixed with candied walnuts lay atop crisp arugula and bitter radicchio. The lot is covered with an apple cider vinaigrette adding just enough acid to balance the sweetness of the beet-walnut duo. And to avoid sounding too redundant, I won’t bring up the thin, crunchy little strips of fried beet bliss that cover the salad yet again… I mean, yet again, again. Starting now.
Founder’s “Field Roast” sandwich $10.95
Hazelnut Field Roast patty, arugula, tomato, vegan fig mayonnaise, Dijon mustard, vegan potato bread
Here’s a fun little fact for you meat substitute enthusiasts, FareStart founder Chef David Lee is also the founder of the beloved vegan grain meat product, Field Roast. And one of my personal favorite variations, the hazelnut-encrusted lentil and sage patty, is a permanent resident on the FareStart menu. Though sandwiched between some very bold flavors like Dijon mustard, fig spread and arugula, this patty holds its own. Lightly fried, it stays crisp and firm the whole way though. The fig-Dijon combo is a little unnatural at first, but after a few bites I was sold. The sweet/spicy thing works really well, especially when you throw in a few beer-battered fries in between each bite to give it a little grease. Come to think of it, I suggest throwing in a few beer-battered fries in between all bites taken all the time. Who’s the genius now, huh?
FareStart is training some pretty phenomenal chefs back there, and it’s no surprise that of the 6,500 people who have participated in the program, 88% of them secured a job within 90 days of graduation. The food was well thought out, well executed and very well eaten. I give FareStart 90 million points for turning a good deed into something enjoyed by all. And for beer battering their french fries.
My Fare tip: Check out FareStart’s Guest Chef Night with two particularly exciting events coming up: May 23rd at the Showbox SoDo is their first annual Guest Chef Spectacular with tastes from 40 Seattle Restaurants and Wineries. Get your tickets here. Then Show up for Guest Chef Night at FareStart on Thursday, June 13th to try the entirely vegan menu created by Chef Makini Howell of Plum Bistro.
FareStart| 7th & Virginia, Seattle | 206.267.7601
Photography by Torin Daniels