Honeygrow: A Fine Example of Fast-Casual

There is a fast-casual restaurant boom at the moment, and I am cheering as new options pop up all over the DC area.  Honeygrow opened recently on Rockville Pike, and immediately won me over with a focus on healthy, local, quality ingredients.  Founder Justin Rosenberg started Honeygrow in Philadelphia just over five years ago, and there are now approximately 25 locations including Philly, Boston, Chicago, Boston, NY, and now DC, Maryland, and Virginia.

The restaurant features made-to-order stir fry and salads that you create by selecting ingredients on a touchscreen. There’s a fascination factor with the process, and you don’t have to be a child to be mesmerized.

The Honeygrow website spells out its origins and mission:

Honeygrow brings people together over the highest quality, wholesome, simple foods. As a newly converted proponent of a plant-based diet and tired of the mediocrity in both food and experiences presented by many of the older + emerging fast dining options, Justin decided to leave the cubicle world, train in a fine-dining kitchen, and pursue a life that spoke to his passion:  creating awesome things through the lens of nourishing foods.

 

Another Honeygrow objective:

“We’re constantly searching for ways to better connect to the communities we call home — ways to bring a bit of the cities we inhabit into each restaurant.” 

To this end, Ian Bell, a Baltimore-based photographer, created three pieces for the Rockville space. The photos are a mix of landscapes and portraits.

This fits another trend in fast-casual restaurants- a focus on design to complement the food, extend the theme, and enhance the experience.  The natural elements throughout the restaurant exemplify this, including a board displaying the source of vegetables, cheese, honey, and meat.

You can design your own stir-fry and salads from a variety of seasonal ingredients, or rely on the wisdom of the folks at Honeygrow, who have created several pre-set options. The spring menu has just launched.  Roasted shrimp is the result of a new partnership with Sea to Table, an organization that works with local fisherman to deliver fresh seafood to local restaurants.

Also new on the menu is Shiso Basil Pesto Stir-Fry with freshly made egg white noodles, roasted shrimp, asparagus, green beans, peas, scallions, and shiso-basil pesto.  The vegan, gluten-free Hakusai Salad is another new item.  It’s a mix of mustard-miso dressing, organic baby arugula, napa cabbage, asparagus, edamame, carrots, honeydew, hot + sour pickles, and cashews.

I tinker with ingredients to conceive my own salad, and come up with romaine lettuce, shrimp, brussels sprouts, roasted carrots, tomatoes, mozzarella, cranberries, Parmesan crisps, and honey ginger dressing.  The ingredient pairing, if I do say so myself, and the quality of the ingredients (the cheese!) makes this a real winner.

As I devour my creation, my fondness for Honeygrow…. grows.  So far, I’ve made two trips to Honeygrow, and I downloaded the app to prepare for the future.

Make Your Own Salad

A honeybar enables diners to design concoctions consisting of fresh fruit, yogurt, coconut flakes, granola, chocolate chips, and local honey or maple syrup. House made whipped cream is an option worth taking.

 

The words “fine dining” appear throughout the “About Us” section of the Honeygrow website.  Rosenberg values the mindset that is essential for fine dining, and wants it to serve as a foundation to elevate his restaurants. Mission accomplished.  Honeygrow is a fine example of fast-casual done right.

Honeygrow, 12035 Rockville Pike, Rockville, MD 20850 and other locations