Welcome back, carnivores. This week is my Nature Works review. Nature Works is a small chain of restaurants; I think there are three locations in Manhattan. Last week I was sitting behind my desk in the lobby of the building where I work in the Flatiron District, and a guy came in with a bunch of menus. He looked kind of like an extra from the cast of Jersey Shore, but he gave me a coupon for a free meal from Nature Works. He also gave me a song-and-dance about how healthy Nature Works is, and how they don’t use butter or lard, they don’t fry anything, they use brown instead of white rice and whole grain pasta, and how their food is generally better for you than most of the other places around. Honestly, I was a little turned off by it, since I love white rice and i don’t eat whole grain anything, but, since I saw that one of the locations was nearby and the coupon did indeed seem to be for a free meal with no catches or restrictions, on my break I walked over there to give it a try.
The location I went to was at 113 East 31st Street, between Park and Lexington. It was a small place, a hole in the wall, pretty much. I gave the counter guy my coupon, which was for a free “Bob’s Plate.” This was described as “grilled chicken breast over whole wheat pasta or brown rice topped with lentil soup.” I got mine with the brown rice. I got the meal in its brown back and took it back to my building, where I went down to our break room and unwrapped it. I have to say that it didn’t look very appetizing…actually, it looked kind of like cat puke, and, as someone with two cats, you can trust me on that. But it smelled good, and I was encouraged by the fact that there weren’t really any ingredients that I don’t like, not that I could see. I like lentil soup. It’s got a ton of fiber, which is great for you. You can’t go wrong with grilled chicken breast, and, while I prefer white rice, brown rice is at least acceptable to me. I had never thought to combine these three ingredients, but I was hungry, so I dug in.
So how was it? Pretty good, actually. The appearance aside, it was a nice combination of flavors, and it was a good amount for a single portion. It came with whole wheat pita bread for dipping, which was nice. I finished it off and was satisfied with my meal. Now, do I recommend Nature Works? Well, yes…and no. The Bob’s Plate was good, no doubt. But I saw on the menu that if I’d had to pay for it, it would have cost me $9.30, which is way higher than what I would have been willing to spend. It might be a good deal at half of that, but almost ten dollars is a lot to pay, especially in light of the fact that there are places within a couple of blocks where you can get a slice of pizza for a dollar. Of course, the guy who gave me the coupon would be quick to point out that pizza is nowhere near as good for you as what Nature Works is offering, but the simple fact is that it’s highly unlikely I’m going back there and shelling out $9.30. However, gentle reader, if you’re ever in the area and fancy spending ten bucks on lunch, I think you’ll be pleased. I’m sure Jersey Shore guy will be happy to see you.