Following the recent trend toward health foods and smoothies, organic juice bar Fruitive opened its doors this past November in D.C.’s City Center. However, despite the new healthy eatery’s commitment to plant-based food and wholesome ingredients, its food fell flat.
The juice bar and restaurant emphasizes a lack of processed or refined ingredients — all of the items offered on the menu are entirely plant-based, including smoothies, salads, wraps and “superberry” bowls. Fruitive also prides itself on its homemade, cold-pressed juices — available for individual sale or as a set for a juice cleanse. However, Fruitive’s dishes and beverages were disappointing and flavorless, and the freshness of their ingredients failed to translate into taste.
The new Fruitive branch in City Center is the chain’s second location. Though Fruitive has previously appeared in stalls at various Washington farmers markets, this is its first permanent installation outside of its original location in Virginia Beach, Va. The original storefront became the first restaurant to be certified by the Green Restaurant Association, a nonprofit organization that seeks to make restaurants more environmentally responsible and sustainable.
Fruitive in City Center is located at the end of a row of shops, with bright floor-length windows making up two of the four walls. The interior of the store is light and contemporary, and a minimalistic counter seating area faces each window. Flat-screen monitors throughout the store display the menu and photos of the food, giving customers a good visual of its wholesome fruit and veggie options.
Though Fruitive offers savory options such as wraps or salads, my friend and I decided to try the smoothie combinations for which Fruitive is known. I ordered the Tropical Pitaya superberry bowl ($8.95), while my friend opted for the Green Supreme superberry bowl ($9.95). The superberry bowl is Fruitive’s vegan version of the increasingly popular acai bowl, topped with fresh fruit and Fruitive’s very own homemade gluten-free granola.
The fast food-style window granted us a look inside the kitchen where our bowls were being prepared. In casual dining style, the chefs called our names and we picked up our food at the window. Afterward, we staked out two stools with a view of the bustling downtown streets around City Center, and tucked into our bowls.
Our bowls looked mouthwatering. Both were topped with banana, coconut and homemade granola, and mine had an added topping of blackberries. However, once I took a bite, I was somewhat unimpressed. The smoothie underneath all of the toppings seemed to contain more ice than fruit. The texture of the acai bowl was not the smooth blend of berries I had expected; rather, it was so chunky and icy that I could barely taste the fruit blended into it. The Green Supreme was slightly smoother and creamier, and definitely had a sweet flavor with a veggie aftertaste that is typical of green smoothies. However, the homemade granola tasted like cardboard. It did not have any semblance of sweetness, and frankly tasted a little stale. The wholesome nuts and seeds in the granola were very apparent, but unfortunately compromised the actual flavor.
The bananas, berries and ingredients in the smoothie were obviously very freshly prepared. The staff was extremely friendly, the space was aesthetically pleasing and the philosophy of the restaurant is truly admirable. However, the flavorless acai bowls do not do justice to the healthy ingredients. Fruitive’s website boasts that “only fruits, vegetables, grains, legumes, nuts, seeds, herbs and spices exist in our pantry.” It seems that given the current quality of its dishes, Fruitive may need to expand its repertoire.
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