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Fresh Cutt Carving Grill offers healthy, plentiful choices at a reasonable price

Posted By Karen Young On September 13, 2009 @ 11:40 pm In Featured,Food,My Daily Find,Restaurants,spotlight | 4 Comments

karenyoung110BY KAREN YOUNG

Stepping into Fresh Cutt Carving Grill in Sherman Oaks feels like walking into a fast food dining franchise with an innovative edge.

Sleek television screens with appealing food photos  revolve against one wall, while enormous prints of vegetables and meat are on another wall with a discreetly imprinted overlay of the Fresh Cutt logo; the furniture conveys a modern, cafe vibe;  glass vases filled with fruit make a statement in the corner display; fresh flowers sit on a EuroStone counter made of recycled materials; the stainless steel serving area sparkles with servers ready to take orders and fill plates; a spin grill slowly roasts meat and chicken; and an open case in the back displays an array of fresh vegetables that are used in food preparation.

Fresh, displayed produce is used for cooking. Photo: Karen Young

Fresh, displayed produce purchased at the Los Angeles Farmers Market on Third Street is used for cooking. Photo: Karen Young

But guess what? This is no franchise — it’s the first and only Fresh Cutt — but it has all the makings of a franchise just waiting to happen.  Opened by sisters Diana and Karina Shishalovsky at the end of August, the sisters proclaim they are putting a new spin on the idea of fast casual dining.

Their first priority comes from the food they choose. “We go to the Los Angeles Farmer’s Market on Third Street to buy our produce and we get our meat from a high quality supplier,” said Karina, who added that the food is prepared daily in small batches so that much of it, such as vegetable dishes,  are  refilled hourly.

Sister/owners Diana and Karina Shishalovsky

Sister/owners Diana and Karina Shishalovsky Photo: Karen Young

Karina, 22, and Diana, 28, who immigrated from Europe with their family 20 years ago, started talking about the restaurant concept four years ago.   Both graduated from CSUN with business degrees. They grew up in Los Angeles and in the San Fernando Valley surrounded by family in the food and restaurant business and have always cooked for friends and family.

“We wanted to have a place that served fresh, healthy fast food, but with restaurant quality service,” said Karina.  ”We also wanted the look of it to be modern and a bit trendy, but still feel warm,” added Diana.

Meat and chicken is marinated for 24 hours before being roasted on this spin grill. Photo: Karen Young

Meat and chicken is marinated for 24 hours before being roasted on this spin grill. Photo: Karen Young

Although customers order themselves at a walk through counter with food stations, servers bring out the food, clean up and have a very helpful, inviting attitude.

Karina and Diana wanted an eco-friendly space, so they worked with restaurant designer Sat Garg of Akar Studios, who used recycled materials in the decor and countertop.  They are also using biodegradable plates, cups and utensils.

Carving Station  Photo: Karen Young

Carving Station Photo: Karen Young

Although the sisters describe Fresh Cutt as offering Mediterranean/California cuisine, the menu consists of simple choices that can actually result in an unlimited number of meal options depending on how you choose your accompaniments.  Moreover, those with certain dietary restrictions can choose selections depending on their needs.

The user-friendly menu starts with the daily Fresh Cutt Selection, which is served with up to five of their signature accompaniments.  Choose from Lemon Chicken ($7.95), Pepper Tri-Tip Steak ($8.75), Chicken Jambalaya ($7.25), Beef Jambalaya ($7.95), and Vegetarian (any combination of cheese, beans, rice vegetables $6.95).  The Jambalayas do tend to be on the spicy side.

Make up your own plate. This one has lemon chicken, rice pilaf, grilled vegetables, griller mushrooms, hummus, tzatzki, salad with cheese and pita.  Photo: Karen Young

Make up your own plate. This one is piled high with lemon chicken, rice pilaf, grilled vegetables, grilled mushrooms, hummus, tzatzki, salad with cheese and pita. Photo: Karen Young

Weekend specials include: Roasted Turkey Breast marinated in a French Chateau Classic Sauce (Friday only, $8.95), Garlic Lamb marinated in a garlic herb sauce (Saturday only, $9.95), BBQ Beef Brisket marinated in BBQ sauce (Sunday only, $8.50).

Just washed fresh potatoes ready to be prepared for fries.  Photo: Karen Young

Just washed fresh potatoes ready to be prepared for fries. Photo: Karen Young

“All of the meat and chicken are marinated for 24 hours and then slow roasted on the spin grill,” explained Diana about the selection that is incredibly tender and really does taste home-cooked.

The fun of the eating experience begins when you decide how you want to create your meal — wrap, pita roll, lavash press, build a bowl (sandwich served in a bowl), or build a plate.

After choosing your base selection of meat or veggie,  take your pick of spreads, including white bean hummus, olive pesto, veggie spread. Hot accompaniments include rice pilaf, grilled vegetables, black beans, grilled mushrooms and ratatouille salad.   You can add a variety of cheeses, various garden selections such as pico de gallo and tabouli, or sauces such as tzatziki, ranch, chipolte and a three-pepper salsa.

Extras on the menu include Fresh Cutt French Fries made with real potatoes and special seasoning ($1.85); Guacamole, which is hand cut and mashed with large chunks that make it taste fresher and more like an avocado salad ($1.95); Fresh Cutt slaws  (Caesar and Asian Almond $1.25) are crisp, bursting with flavor and not over-dressed. Extra special is The Split (half fries/half slaw $2.75), a concept created by Karina.

Fresh Cutt is located in the La Reina Shopping Plaza in Sherman Oaks. There is validated 2-hour parking in back. Photo: Karen Young

Fresh Cutt is located in the La Reina Shopping Plaza in Sherman Oaks. There is validated 2-hour parking in the back lot. Photo: Karen Young

Kids meals are also available and include fries and a drink.  Choose from a plate ($5.95) or a bowl ($4.95), grilled cheese made with a panini grilled tortilla ($4.50) or a chicken press with cheese ($5.50).

Fresh Cutt’s  set menu does not stop Karina and Diana from experimenting and changing what they offer. “We listen to our customers. If there is a suggestion, we’ll try it out, or if we think we can improve on an item, we’ll change it,” said Diana. “Plus we will be adding new additions to the menu as we evolve.”  Babaganoush is an example of an item they plan to add soon.

Fresh Cutt is the perfect place to get good quality healthy food for a quick casual lunch or dinner at a reasonable price.  And if you change your selections each time, you’ll always come away with a new taste experience.  Catering is also available with 24 hours notice.

Fresh Cutt 14622 Ventura Blvd, #103 (at the The La Reina Shopping Plaza), Sherman Oaks, Ca 91423.  Free 2-hour parking in back with validation.   (818) 788-8077.  Open 7 days a week 11 am – 9 pm. www.freshcutt.com

Karen Young is the Editor/Publisher of My Daily Find

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