Downtown food jaunt

Thursday, September 20, 2018

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In the second Thursday Food food jaunt series, we head to downtown Kingston at noon and ask passersby where they were heading for lunch. Our findings may surprise you.

Grab A Smoothie 19-21 King Street (at the corner of Harbour Street)

The business name doubles as a call to action, and if you were to pass the brightly painted nook on Harbour Street, it would be hard not to heed the call. Owned and operated for the past year and six months by couple Rhaul Coke and Sherina Whyte, Grab A Smoothie offers customers lighter fare for a good price. When asked why a smoothie bar downtown Whyte responded, “We saw the need for it and wanted to offer healthier options to people in the downtown core.” The smoothies are made from mainly natural ingredients like oats, apples, bananas, peanuts, ribena berries and Irish moss. They, too, incorporate popular health foods like kale, chia, pumpkin and flax seeds, moringa and spirulina. Grab A Smoothie also offers five panini sandwiches that include chicken ham, jerked chicken and avocado. Each day there's a combo deal that includes a panini sandwich and a small smoothie for $500. Thursday Food tried the chicken ham panini along with the Strawberry Bliss (strawberry, pineapple, watermelon and banana) smoothie. The bread was very fresh, they did not skimp on the lettuce, tomatoes and cheese and the chicken ham was quite tasty. The smoothie was fantastic. The slight grit of strawberry seeds lets you know that this is not one of those fromconcentrate beverages. Grab A Smoothie is opened 7:30 am - 5:30 pm, accepts cash, debit and credit cards and offers free delivery (on a bicycle, to beat the traffic) downtown on all orders that comprise more than two smoothies. For those of us north of Heroes' Circle, don't fret — delivery is only $50.

Island Squeez 141 Harbour Street (at the corner of Orange and Harbour Streets)

Once you tuck into a boxed lunch from Island Squeez you quickly realise why it's a favourite of the downtown office tower set. The food is really good. When Thursday Food visited the five-yearold restaurant at 12:45 pm, the 27-person-deep line for pick-up orders and 30-plus customers eating in the dining room and on the breezy balcony made it seem as if Island Squeez was the new downtown hotspot. Opened between 8:00 am and 6:00 pm seven days a week, the restaurant serves breakfast — hard-dough bread and bagel sandwiches, wraps, pancakes, smoothies and shakes and lunch that comprises go-to boxed lunch favourites, pasta, sandwiches, wraps hot dogs and burgers. On the day of our visit, popular boxed lunch options included the Jack Daniel's “barbfried” chicken, coconut curried chicken, pumpkinstyle steamed fish and the lunch menu stalwart: fried chicken. Thursday Food asked a number of patrons to describe their meals. The words “delicious”, “plenty” and “well-priced” kept coming up. When asked why Island Squeez is their go-to spot, many mentioned that it was due to the fact that the staff is attentive and the environs are clean and comfortable. The staff quickly dealt with the line-up of patrons without flailing or losing their cool. It's a testament to owner Kevin Pearson's leadership and his unflappable demeanour. During the lunch rush Pearson oscillated between serving lunches and greeting customers who clearly are now more like friends. Who wouldn't want to befriend a man who serves food this good?

New Salad Scene 58 Barry Street

Despite the name, New Salad Scene serves more than just salads. But we have to mention that the salads are fantastic. When Thursday Food got there at 1:45 pm they were almost sold out — a testament to how good the food is. According to principal Tricia Copeland- Angus, “We start getting lunch orders from 7:30 in the morning and by 11:00 am our first orders are through the door.” New Salad Scene enjoys a customer base that's not just within the downtown core. Many offices in New Kingston, Cross Roads and Half-Way-Tree order from the restaurant as well. So why would a no-frills restaurant be this popular? It's the fact that they willingly customise orders to suit a myriad of dietary needs. On a no-carb, no-dairy diet? No problem. Want a salad with stew pork? Easy. Vegetarian or pescatarian? They have you covered. Copeland-Angus noted, “We tailor-make all our lunches for our customers and special requests are no problem for us.” If you'd like to substitute tossed salad for rice and peas it's a nominal surcharge of $50. Want to substitute rice for the fancy house salad that comprises potato salad, leafy greens, corn, carrots, pickled beets, pickled green beans, cucumber and tomato? Just add $150. Thursday Food opted for a chicken cheese salad. The greens, carrot and deseeded cucumber (nice touch) were crisp and were a perfect accompaniment for the creamy and well-seasoned potato salad. The corn, pickled beets and pickled green beans added texture, saltiness and sharpness. It was a delicious, wholesome and filling lunch. Delivery is free but is mainly reserved for lunch orders that include at least five orders. However, since New Salad Scene is customer service-focused, make your request and we reckon Copeland-Angus will do her best to accommodate. We recommend, however, that you round up a few co-workers and order from New Salad Scene. You'll be everyone's best friend Crab, soup and corn from Miss Alice Heroes' Circle Not so much lunch (who are we to judge?) but we would be remiss if we didn't mention the crab vendors at Heroes' Circle who do quite a bit of business. The three SUVs and four cars that pulled up to the kerb to patronise Alice Waugh signalled that she's doing something right. It's more than her affable nature, lovely smile and the fact that she endearingly calls her regulars “sweetheart”. Her food is clearly good. Not sure how she seasons her crab or what she combines with chicken foot, soup bone and cow skin to make a vat of delicious-smelling soup. But whatever it is that she does has gained her diehard fans. You don't even have to leave your vehicle. Pull up to her stall, wave and smile and she's ready to “set you up”. Crabs are between $300 and $500, roast corn $200 and a solid serving of soup is $300. — Vaughn Gray

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