Original Grain took over an old Tim Horton location in the middle of downtown Syracuse, and when we passed by it not too long ago, I had already browsed their online menu for gluten-free options to accommodate my current dietary plan. I planned on going with my brother, but when my father showed interest, I immediately felt like today was the day. I had always had my eye on a Brekkie Bowl (fruit, seeds and other things blended with yogurt and coconut milk), so that’s what I ordered.
The Atmosphere of Original Grain
The restaurant itself is bright inside and feels a tad out of place for our downtown area. Original Grain aims to bring a California-flavor to Syracuse, and it accomplishes that. Splashes of hip-hop culture dot the space – a sweatshirt with ‘Wasabi and WuTang’ hung from the ceiling. People filled various areas of the restaurant, and if you pass by lunchtime, you can see through the heavily glassed enclosure of the eatery that the joint abuzz with activity.
Green Thumb Brekkie Bowl
One of the reasons I was excited to order the Green Thumb Brekkie Bowl was the photo of it – vibrant colors and a delicious-sounding combination of ingredients: matcha tea powder, kale, apple, banana, pumpkin seeds, hemp seeds, mango, and bee pollen. However, when the smoothie bowl was finally made, it was far from the photo I salivated over. From the image, it looked as if the base of the bowl was thicker (like the consistency of yogurt).
In reality, it was disappointingly more like a movable, icy liquid.
And, the visual presentation was a bit of a letdown.
Despite what it looked like, the Green Thumb Brekkie Bowl was delightfully delicious and satisfying. As one of the few gluten-free, sugar-free (I think) items on the menu, I would definitely order it again.
Kelp & Kimchi Bowl
I must admit I pushed the Kelp & Kimchi Bowl on my father because he’s always talking about kimchi. The bowl is comprised of short rib, kimchi, cucumber, carrot, apple, edamame, scallion, cilantro, and a dressing. The amount of kelp noodles for this dish is visually overwhelming. I should have taken a photo of it, but I was busy with my own bowl. I was unable to try out the meal for dietary reasons, but both my father and mother noted that the meat tasted on the ‘bland’ side. My father also requested a little extra kimchi, but there was none visible that I could tell.
The Service of Original Grain
In person, I didn’t find the staff as welcoming or helpful as other places I’ve been to. I also feel the setup of Original Grain is confusing. I wasn’t quite sure where to stand after ordering, and while the Kimchi Bowl was ready quickly, the wait for the Brekkie Bowl was long enough for me to ponder if they had forgotten it. I was standing in an inconvenient place by the cash register for quite a while, and even though I inquired about the Bowl once, no one told me that they are prepared and will be waiting for you on the other side of the restaurant.
Also, waiting seems to be a regular ‘thing’ here because even though there were no lines, I witnessed several people standing in front of the menu, scanning the area behind the counter, and visibly looking like they were hoping someone would pay attention to them.
I wanted to ask about nutrition-related information while I was there, since it is not available at the restaurant or online. I just didn’t find the staff approachable, so I held back. However, I will say that whoever answered the phone later that day was incredibly helpful and patient in letting me (my mother) know the ingredients in the Brekkie Bowl that I ordered. I needed to figure out what I just ate so that I could record it in My Fitness Pal.
I would suggest that Original Grain starts listing the calories and nutritional information for their items – it be a great help for their customers.
In a nutshell, I love that Original Grain supports local foods and uses fresh ingredients. I think the concept and creativity of the business is a breath of fresh air, but I think inflated prices and their overall level of customer service do not create a healthy balance for this consumer. I will return because the Brekkie Bowl that I had was a winner, and there are a few other items on their menu that I’m curious about.
Menu photo credits: Original Grain