Fresh Food Studio debuts at student center

The newly-built Chinook Center is an impressive new amenity for WSU students. One of the first things people will notice is the new food options courtesy of Freshens. Freshens Fresh Food Studio represents its name well. With a staff garbed in immaculate white, they look like a canvas for the abundant and multicolored selection of ingredients customers get to splash on their dishes.

Freshens is a “fast-casual” restaurant concept similar to that of Chipotle, Panda Express and Subway. They are a privately held company headquartered in Atlanta with 500 locations at 30 airports and 300 colleges.

The Freshens located in the CUB is just a small dose of the full Freshens look. Because of the size of the food studio, it’s not a surprise WSU didn’t have a building to hold it in till now.

While the options of yogurt and smoothies have satiated many WSU students, the food studio is a game changer. The Freshens concept focuses on healthy eating while highlighting options both sweet and savory.

This idea can be best seen in their crepes. The crepes come in either the standard golden (wheat flour) or multigrain. There are a handful of savory crepe options ranging from chicken caesar, pesto chicken, pepperoni pizza and breakfast options like sausage and eggs. The dessert crepes feature the Nutella supreme and a cheesecake crepe.

The crepes themselves can be ordered in a half- or full-size. The portions are a good size for any of the varieties ordered and are stacked full of different ingredients and sauces.

The food studio has other options like salads, rice bowls and mac and cheese. All of these items have an array of variation to them just like the crepes. There are many options, which is an exciting thing for WSU when campus doesn’t tend to carry much variety.

Freshens is hitting a few different niches with dishes like the crepe, something unique to them, and rice bowls. The health consciousness of Freshens is also an asset to a growing population of mindful eaters. Nutritional facts from all their dishes can be found on the Freshens website.

The best-tasting options on the menu are the rice bowls and crepes. It is hard to screw up a breakfast crepe or even a dessert crepe. With sizeable portions and tastiness all across the board, the crepes will carry you through the start of your day or serve as a nice treat for your sweet tooth.

My personal favorite rice bowl is the Korean rice bowl. It’s not authentic by any means, but it does taste pretty good. The umami and salty-sweet of the sauce with the brightness of the slaw and cucumber is a winning combination.

They even have a build-your-own rice bowl with your choice of protein and other fixings. There are many ways to build the rice bowl so it is almost a guarantee of finding a recipe to your liking.

The Italian mac and cheese was objectively bad. The pasta itself had a nice texture and saltiness, but the tomato “sauce” they dolloped on top was pure tomato paste. It was too sour and the paste had the appeal of synthetic red paint. I know I called it a studio before, but that’s not what I had in mind. The pepperoni refused to be cooked well in the oven and the threads of peppers and onions did nothing to save the plate.

The other thing to keep in mind is the price. The food studio’s prices are all $6 to $8 for the crepes, bowls and salads. That is a hefty price tag for the average college student, especially for a salad, of all things.

The food options are healthier, but the quality of ingredients don’t translate that as well. The mac and cheese and the tomato paste that came with it is an example of this. If people are paying this much money, the food should have that “wow” factor.

The automated frozen yogurt machines are a nice and efficient addition. With the selection of frozen yogurts, smoothies and new eating options, Freshens at the Chinook makes a welcome one-stop eat for students.

WSU students can study in the cozy new chairs, work out in the quality gym and grab a nutritious bite to eat. The new Freshens Fresh Food Studio is a refreshing spin on the fast-casual concept and a lovely complement to our shiny new building.