With the opening of the first two Creative Juice locations in New York, the unstoppable restaurateur Danny Meyer is about to pop the lid off the city's juice scene.
Meyer and his business partner, renowned Union Square Cafe chef Michael Romano, are behind the just-opened juice cafes in Equinox's 50th Street and 76th Street locations. (And sources from both brands said expansion plans are imminent, so expect more to come.)
Last week we said Kaffe 1668's new juices were culinary-inspired (and they are), but Meyer takes foodie cold-pressing (and healthy takeout) to a whole new level.
He tapped Romano to create the Creative Juice menus in collaboration with star MD Dr. Jeffrey Morrison, so every juice and smoothie is perfectly balanced—in both flavor and nutrition profile. Romano says that in his R+D phase, he surveyed the current juice scene and discovered two things. "Everyone was pretty much using the same ingredients, and to my palate as a chef, nothing tasted that good."
His recipes, which will change with the seasons, introduce rarely-pressed ingredients like dried apricot, red cabbage, and kaffir lime leaf. A kale-based green juice also features kohlrabi and jalapeno, while a beet juice contains blood orange pulp, fennel, and shiso (a Japanese herb).
"I was going for that tingle at the end of your palate that makes you want to go back for another sip, just like a good wine," Romano explains. The juices are even designed to pair with food, he says. (His suggestion: "The Good Fight" blend with roast chicken.)
The menu also includes smoothies with ingredients that range from tofu and turmeric to cashews, cacao nibs, and black pepper, and healthy food offerings like a quinoa and brussels sprouts salad, a grilled squash sandwich, and a beet soup.
Even so, the focus on flavor doesn't detract from the nutritional value of the ingredients, which remain front and center. Dr. Morrison used a "flavor function concept unique to the juice world" by adding taste elements that serve a specific nutritional purpose. For example, the ginger, lemongrass, and kaffir lime leaf in the "The Good Fight," the brand's immunity juice, are all both flavor- and immune system-boosters.
And while Shake Shack's greasy burgers may be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Meyer's food empire, the restaurateur says that Creative Juice is a natural outgrowth of his brand. "I've always said, 'Whoever wrote the rule that good health can't be hedonistic?'" —Lisa Elaine Held
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