At Honeygrow, a new eatery in Fenway for stir-fries and salads, don’t be surprised if you spy the restaurant chain’s CEO in the kitchen.
“On my last visit to Boston, I put an apron on and banged it out,” says Justin Rosenberg, who founded the Philadelphia-based company five years ago. His employees, he admits, were surprised when he jumped on the line. “Once they realized that everything was cool, they relaxed,” he says.
Day-to-day management of this 45-seat spot falls to an onsite team that makes recipes overseen by the brand’s culinary director, David Katz. So Rosenberg’s hands-on approach is as much about team building as it is about reinforcing high standards. The egg white noodles, he reminded line staff during his visit, spend “a minute and 15 seconds” in boiling water before being shocked in ice water, then tossed in a hot wok with meat, sauce, and veg.
This spot definitely improves on stir-fries of the past. Many of us still shudder at the memory of “Mongolian”-style eateries, where you assemble raw ingredients from a buffet, then hand over your bowl to a miserable-looking fry cook. Here, you order by touch screen, first considering suggested combinations, then customizing from there. The kitchen staff assembles your order, and you pay at the end of the counter when it’s ready for pick-up.
Spicy garlic stir-fry ($10.49) tosses noodles with chicken, green bell pepper, broccoli, pineapple, and a tangy sauce that offers a pleasant buzz of heat. If you don’t want the fruit, follow the screen prompts to 86 it. If you’re forgoing poultry, tap the protein option to swap it out for beef, pork, or tofu. Pasta is al dente, florets are crisp-steamed, and the amount of sauce is ample but not overwhelming.
Where sauce does overwhelm is in a stir-fry called “Sweet Soy Five Spice” ($10.99). Long grain brown rice arrives swimming in a bowl of sticky-sweet liquid. It’s a pity, because the green beans are crisp and the beef (selected instead of turkey) is from a lean, health-conscious cut.
Salads here are deliciously fresh and well-made. In warmer months, plenty of the produce is grown on New England farms. A white bean tuna salad ($11.49) features romaine hearts and wisps of baby kale, tossed with hard-boiled egg, chopped red onion, grape tomatoes, and a modest dollop of water-packed tuna. Pickled red peppers add a sweet-tart touch. Vegans will be happy that most salads can be made animal-product free. That means a “Make It Grain” salad ($10.08) — a generous bowl of arugula dotted with quinoa, wheat berries, toasted cashews, and feta — can be ordered cheese-free. Dressing for all selections can be ordered on the side.
Visitors to the ballpark and workers from the neighborhood all seem to appreciate the fresh-pressed, no-pulp juices packaged in perky 12-ounce bottles ($5.99). “Green Is Good” with apple, spinach, cucumber, lemon, and basil, tastes more like fruit than veg. The same goes for “Orange You Thirsty,” featuring orange, carrot, lemon, and ginger. This crowd also digs custom-combinations from the Honeybar, chopped fruit with toppings like granola, coconut, and honey (around $6.50).
Staff here are eager to help. If you’re stymied by the touch screen, a roaming team member is on hand to guide. And if you’re yearning for the days before everything went digital, order numbers appear on a display reminiscent of an old-fashioned train station time schedule.
There’s a lot to like here, so it’s no wonder that the line is growing at Honeygrow.
1282 Boylston St., Boston, Fenway, 857-991-1647, www.honeygrow.com
All major credit cards accepted. Wheelchair accessible.
Prices Customized stir fries and salads, around $10 and up. Fruit bowls with toppings around $6.50 and up. Juices $5.99.
Hours Daily 10:30 a.m.-10 p.m.
What to order Spicy garlic stir fry, “Make It Grain” salad, white bean tuna salad, “Green Is Good” and “Orange You Thirsty” juices.
Ellen Bhang can be reached at email@example.com.