Karma Kitchen tempts with smoothies and healthy options
Ever since the passing of fitness and nutrition guru Jack LaLanne six years ago, I've been patiently waiting for someone, or something, to get my "juices" going again.
Well, consider that wait over: I've discovered Karma Kitchen & Juicery on Holmes Street in Mystic.
Just around the corner from the drawbridge and a world away from the ice cream, fudge and other confections, Karma Kitchen is a somewhat inconspicuous place just past Lis Bake Shop and across the street from the Engine Room restaurant.
The space has a bright, sunny feel on account of two skylights, high ceilings, light tile floors, and sea foam green walls. Several tables for eating or sipping drinks and smoothies populate the front and run alongside the kitchen, which is open and visible behind the ordering counter.
The food section of the menu offers some tasty, healthy and light options for patrons, which I'll dive into a little later, but the true adventure and wider array of choices at Karma Kitchen lie in its list of smoothies, cold-pressed juices, and lemonades.
There are about 20 different drinks to choose from, plus the possibility of shots of wheatgrass or ginger ($3.25 each).
On the smoothie side, options range from acai with berries and banana ($7.95 for 16-ounces) to "TropiKal Green" with mango, kale, spinach, and chard ($8.25) to "Matcha Melon" consisting of cantaloupe, chia seeds, and organic green teach Matcha powder ($8.95).
In the juice section, there are two beet-based items — "Feel the Beet" ($5.50 for 9-ounces, $9 for 16-ounces) and the "Green Beet" with spinach, kale, and romaine ($5.75 and $9.50) — "What's Up Doc?" with carrot, apple, and lemon ($5.50 an $9), and "Acai Green Juice" with juiced cucumber and kale ($5.95, 9-ounce only), among several other options.
In addition to a cranberry mango lemonade slushy ($6.95 for 16-ounces), Karma Kitchen also offers a pink lemonade made from organic lemons and organic agave nectar ($3.95 or $6.50) and the "Wakeup Call Lemonade" with stevia extract and cayenne pepper ($3.75 or $6).
Several of the beverages at Karma Kitchen are also made with water that's been processed through an alkaline machine that raises the pH level, something proponents believe adds to its health benefits.
I tried "Feel the Beet," which was thin, smooth, beetie and slightly sweet, with carrot, apple, lime, and ginger in there as well. The "Green Medley" with kale, chard, and collard greens was refreshing and highly palatable, with a mix of apple, lime, and ginger incorporated as well ($5.95 and $9.75).
The most interesting beverage I had was probably the "Ginger Immunity Elixir" ($7.50 for 12-ounces) made from juiced ginger, apple and lemon, mixed with apple cider vinegar, honey, turmeric and alkaline water.
I was told "brace yourself" before taking my first sip. But, while having some definite potency, I'd say the effect of the ginger was more invigorating than overwhelming.
Lastly on drinks for me was the "Protein Cacao Peanut Butter Bomb" ($8.25 for 16-ounces). Made with pea protein, banana, dates, organic peanut butter, flaxseeds, raw cacao, and alkaline water, the beverage was thick and delectable, perfect for a not-too-sweet treat or even a breakfast replacer.
As impressive as the beverages are, they are by no means the only worthy options at Karma Kitchen.
There's the "Lighter Fare" section of the menu with a veggie and flax crackers plate served with hummus ($6.95), avocado toast with flaxseeds and hard boiled egg ($5.95), granola bowl ($4.95) and a kid-friendly organic peanut butter and jelly sandwich with choice of grape or strawberry jam ($4.25).
The vegetarian bowls and wraps section is more substantive and probably better for someone who's looking for a more complete lunch.
I tried the veggie wrap ($7.95), which came with an impressive assortment of ingredients: greens, shredded carrot, red cabbage, scallion, cilantro, sprouts, and house Thai peanut sauce.
The cauliflower rice bowl comes served cool with brown rice, finely chopped raw cauliflower, carrot, red cabbage, scallions, cilantro, sprouts, and Thai peanut sauce ($7.50).
I also had a savory and delicious pesto chicken wrap ($8.75) made with organic shredded meat and no-cheese pesto wrapped in a bed of organic greens and a spinach herb wrap.
Service at Karma Kitchen & Juicery was also commendable. Drinks and meals are ordered at the front counter, then prepared for you to pick up and go, or eat at a table of your choice.
The staff members were very friendly and happy to answers questions about the menu and some of its more novel elements.
When all was said and done, I came away thinking that, in an oasis of tourist indulgences, Karma Kitchen is a unique and welcome addition to the downtown Mystic scene.
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