Saturday, February 22, 2014

Fresh First, where gluten-free and flavor team up in Fort Lauderdale

Fresh First
1637 SE 17th Street (next to Bimini Boatyard)
Fort Lauderdale, 33316
Hours: 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday
Delivery available

By Jane Feehan

A gluten-free diet may be the latest food fad to some; for others it’s required eating to stay out of a doctor’s office or hospital. For both groups it’s often equated with deprivation of tasty foods. Not so at Fresh First, a small cafĂ© off the 17th Street Causeway, which touts itself as “South Florida’s first 100 percent gluten-free organic eatery and juicery.”

It’s healthy at this casual restaurant, but most important, the food is good. Lots of salad choices grace the menu but there is a terrific selection of sandwiches—turkey or veggie burgers, grilled chicken, tuna melts, vegetable Paninis, grilled cheese—and quinoa dishes, raw foods, and house-made soups. Their version of gluten-free bread is a perfect envelope for any sandwich. I sampled a mushroom turkey burger with a side of organic slaw for about $14 and ended the meal with a marvelous cranberry cookie of the day (about $4). It’s somewhat pricey, but Fresh First has gluten-free and organic down to an art form; there are no flavor deficits here. They offer a children's menu, a few desserts, including cupcakes, and breakfast. They also sell organic wines.

The big test was to indulge in one of their Belgian waffles with bananas and walnuts for breakfast. The waffle, fluffy and ample, will appeal to all who like to start the day off with a little healthy decadence. (Yes, at Fresh First these two words do go together.) Their breakfast menu includes egg sandwiches, Eggs Benedict, omelets, turkey bacon, chicken apple sausage, oatmeal and yogurt.

My only complaint is that Fresh First is not open for dinner or at all on Sundays. Logistics: The valet from Bimini Boatyard (close to the Renaissance Hotel) parks cars for Fresh First. Parking is also available in the adjacent garage; with a receipt from Fresh First, the charge will be waived. This cafe is tucked away, out of sight from 17th Street, but look for Bimini Boatyard.

Tags: Gluten-free restaurant in Fort Lauderdale, organic restaurants in Fort Lauderdale, restaurants on 17th Street Causeway, raw foods in Fort Lauderdale

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