This Tuscan Cannellini Ragout dish is just one of many you can make using Fresh Routes' handy dinner kits. Credit: Josh Wessler
There’s a new gourmet store in town, and it’s near the 4-5-6 platform in Union Square subway station. Sound impossible? Unhealthy? Or at least unsanitary? Well, not anymore. Startup Fresh Routes lets you buy everything you need to make a wholesome family dinner without ever leaving the station.
The goal of Fresh Routes, which opened its store this week, is to provide “fresh food dinner kits for people on the go,” each of which contains all the ingredients, which are organic and locally sourced when possible, with directions necessary to create a meal for four in under 30 minutes.
We tested out one of kits, choosing the special of the day, the “Thai coconut chicken” box. “Berbere-Spiced Beef with Cremini Mushrooms” and a vegetarian option, “Soho Rice Bowl with Avocado Relish” were also available.
Inside the box, we found one sheet of instructions with tidy plastic-wrapped portions of fresh ingredients like sugar snap peas, cilantro and raw chicken, along with some prepackaged spices and a can of coconut milk.
From box to bowl, constructing the entire meal was well within Fresh Routes’ estimate of 30 minutes. Our 6-year-old taste-tester gave a thumbs up: “It’s good! I like the pasta.”
To be sure, it isn’t a 5-star meal, and home cooks definitely need some basic tools. But for those who want to pick something up on their commute home without sacrificing a homemade meal, a box from Fresh Routes fits the bill, and four servings for around $34 doesn’t break the bank, either.
Fresh Routes stands out from competitor meal-delivery and food-kit services like Blue Apron and Plated thanks to their brick-and-mortar storefront. “Being able to provide customer service in person is something we think is essential, especially when it comes to food,” says Fresh Routes CEO Josh Wessler. “Customers want flexibility to when it comes to buying their food.
If the thought of buying dinner in a subway station makes you balk, have no fear. All food in the Fresh Routes kits are prepared and packed in a sanitary facility uptown, as well as stored and delivered cold to the site. “Cleanliness was one of the biggest concerns we had [when designing the store],” says Wessler.
The Fresh Routes pop-up store will remain at its Union Square location through at least the summer, and possibly for the rest of the year.