Raise your hand if, sometime in the late ’60s, you traveled to San Francisco with a flower in your hair? If both of your hands are still on your keyboard or phone, just skip ahead. If your fingers are touching the ceiling with excitement, I feel your love. If only we could recreate the peace-and-love spirit of our early days. Sorry, got stuck in a moment of hopefulness.
Flower Child, the new restaurant in Inwood Village, is brought to you by the inventive folks at Fox Restaurant Concepts in Phoenix. (True Food Kitchen, The Arrogant Butcher, Culinary Dropout). A local food snoop reports the same group will be installing The Henry in Uptown and North Italia in Plano.
The Flower Child menu is inspired by “food enlightenment” and promises to serve “healthy food for a happy world.” I wonder what they were toking in the boardroom when they came up with this concept. I can only hope it’s the same grass they feed their cows. Now, that’s a concept waiting to happen.
Here’s what I found when I visited Flower Child for the first time: a long line out the door. I was meeting a friend who loves this place. It’s only been open for about 10 days and he’s eaten here eight times. (I go back to my grass-fed beef theory here.)
The food is au courant, especially for segments of eaters who fall into paleo, gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan, vegetarian, organic, and raw categories. The menu is, thankfully, compact and divided into categories. Salads include the Strawberry Fields with organic strawberries, wild arugula, shaved fennel, dried mulberry, coconut, goat cheese and chia seed vinaigrette, and the Skinny Cobb made with romaine, red cabbage, avocado, tomato, cucumber, corn, smoked almonds and a mild Gorgonzola vinaigrette.
Mix ‘N Match plates allow you to match one ($4), two ($7), or three ($9) vegetable options such as gluten-free mac and cheese, grilled asparagus, smashed organic potato with proteins such as all-natural chicken ($5), sustainable salmon ($7), grass-fed steak ($6), and organic, and non-GMO tofu ($4). Whole-grain wraps made with gluten-free pita bread and Healthy Kids options are also available.
Then come the bowls. There are five basic bowls ($9) and you have the power to add any of the aforementioned PC proteins. I loved the Forbidden Rice bowl filled with shiny black pearl rice, red japonica (not the flower, the grain), bok choy, broccoli, carrot, onions, toasted sesame, and red chili. And the best damn sweet and snappy snap peas I have ever eaten. The Thai Cashew Quinoa bowl features the same snap peas, zucchini, shitake mushrooms, jalapeno, Thai basil, and cashews tossed with red quinoa. It was out of outta sight.
Sadly, the sustainable salmon was a bummer. The gamey flavor overpowered the gentle grains and greens that, left by themselves, would remain a gentle salad of red quinoa, organic kale, and sweet corn, beets, and manchego cheese. And those bitchin’ peas.
The room is a big, concrete-floored box with a self-service counter in the back. You wait in line, place your order, and wait again at a table. Last Friday at 2 p.m., the space was filled with women, diamond rings, toddlers on cell phones (the new pacifier), five men, and three old hippies. It was loud. Everybody seems to know each other. Flower Child feels like a neighborhood restaurant that has been there for years. It’s conveniently located in the former Gap space across the street from the clothing store, The Rich Hippie. The new hip hippie obviously doesn’t wear jeans. The new hip hippie wears yoga pants and slugs kombucha.