New downtown Oxnard café lives up to its name
By D.K. Crawford 03/12/2009
Fresh & Fabulous
212 W. Fourth St.
$1.50 - $7.50
Working to expand square footage, rather than waistlines, Fresh & Fabulous of Oxnard appears to be thriving. Maybe eating healthy is the new buzz to see us through the recession — yet another way of tightening our proverbial belts.
With the move to a larger corner storefront (still in the landmark Woolworth building) that once housed Experi-Mental Café, Fresh & Fabulous will not only gain retro booths and a hip dinette counter with lots of chrome, but also the seating capacity will go from 18 to 48!
Owned by certified dietician Magda Weydt, Fresh & Fabulous’ health-conscious menu features dishes that highlight natural flavors and avoid heavy sauces, seasonings and dressings. Flavor isn’t lost — only calories.
There were a variety of quiches, salads, sandwiches and baked items to sample. We ordered at the counter, found our seats, and our food arrived quickly. Dishes were served on square, plastic black and white plates, and portions were perfect. My sip of rosemary-infused lemonade enlivened my taste buds before we started.
The French onion soup comprised red and white diced onions in a combined beef/chicken broth with shredded mozzarella and Parmesan cheese and a wheat crostini topped with broiled cheese on the side. Having both varieties of onions and two types of broth deepened its flavors. “It reminds me of my grandmother’s recipe,” purred my companion as she sipped small delicate spoonfuls. There was no baked-on, bready Gruyère crust that needed tiny scissors to snip; it was a lighter lunchtime version that still had plenty of punch.
We next tried the cranberry pecan chicken salad on mixed greens. The mound of chicken salad was diced beautifully. Each pristine square of white chicken breast was lightly dressed with mayonnaise that bound it with tart dried cranberries and toasted, savory pecans. Underneath it was a bed of mixed purple and green lettuces, and a cup of sweet balsamic dressing with a hint of hot, sludgy garlic and herbs finished the dish.
The special roasted beet and goat cheese was our favorite. Slices of deep scarlet beets were roasted to enhance their sweetness, and halves of walnuts were lightly candied. Crumbles of goat cheese and crescents of red onion were sprinkled on the greens. The aged balsamic dressing again added a sweet element, and the goat cheese was tangy, almost tart in comparison. The surprise element of the salad was the peppery hot flavor of the raw red onion.
After having eaten so conscientiously, we decided to splurge with a slice of vanilla cake thickly iced with butter cream frosting and fresh blueberries, raspberries and blackberries. The moist cake lay somewhere between the realms of pound cake and a fluffy vanilla cake. It brought to mind memories of hot childhood summers spent at the homes of great aunts who specialized in serving slices of such delicacies still hot from the oven, stained by fresh summer berries spooned over the top. We relished it!
One of my favorite things about Fresh & Fabulous is that you can order selectively. Salads come large or small ($6.75/$3.75) and can be combined with soup or half-sandwiches ($7.25). It also offers Healthy Meal packs that include two morning and afternoon snacks and lunch for $12.50. To do so, go to the Web site, select all your options for the day, and pick it up on your way to work. There is also Saturday tea service for special occasions, registration required.
Finally, when you visit Fresh & Fabulous, be sure to bring your “little monies” (pocket change). There is a quaint Woolworth museum full of memorabilia in the hallway full of working vintage games and vending machines. In the women’s bathroom, we got squirts of perfume for a quarter and a dollop of lanolin lotion for a nickel. There are guess-your-weight games (which, if you ate at Fresh & Fabulous, won’t be as much as you feared!), a helicopter game and a vintage photo booth all in the 1950s linoleum-decked hall adjacent to the restaurant.
You won’t break your wallet or bust your waistline when you visit Fresh & Fabulous, but you will have a healthy lunch and loads of old-fashioned fun in historic downtown Oxnard!