Among the multitude of upscale fast food eateries in New York city, EXKi can be easy to miss. But once you enter, you will feel the green ethos at this convivial spot.
It’s a place with “people and nature in mind,” according to its blog. The Green Restaurant Association, which conducts environmental assessments, has given it a two-star rating.
The theme is subtly echoed in the décor with all natural and recycled wood.
EXKi is a play on the French word exquisite or delightful, “exquis.” The idea was conceived in 1999 by three classmates in Belgium with a similar respect for the environment, and passion for high quality fresh, natural food.
Since then, the fast-casual EXKi has grown to operate 78 restaurants worldwide, and has expanded its empire to New York’s Gramercy neighborhood.
The kitchen is under the helm of chef Steven Mettle, who works closely with the consulting chef Galen Zamarra, owner of Mas and Mas La Grillade, to adapt flavors for the American palate.
Although casual, you are greeted by a warm, friendly, and enthusiastic staff the moment you arrive.
Everything is prepared fresh daily on premise with locally produced seasonal, natural ingredients, hormone- and antibiotics-free, with sustainability in mind.
There is the Raw Blend section of fresh fruit and beverages with natural sugar cane, ranging between ($4.50–$7.40) such as the Melon Combo ($6.90) made with honeydew, cantaloupe, green tea, and cane sugar, or for a more robust taste, the Pina Coco ($6.90) with pineapple, coconut milk, cane sugar, and mint.
(Benjamin Chasteen/ Epoch Times)
There is also a small selection of beer and wine.
The array of elegant sandwiches and wraps delectable. For example, the Fig Tree is made with a fabulous combination of prosciutto, figs, baby arugula and caramelized onions ($7.90); the Aged for Perfection Sandwich ($6.95) on raisin and nut flutes; and for the vegetarians, the Dolce Vita ($7.95) with cherry tomatoes, zucchini, yellow squash eggplant , baby arugula, and mozzarella on baked tartines.
There is also a hot dishes section with fantastic soups, especially the lentil soup ($5, small, and $6, large). The oven-roasted Beet Power was an incredible combination of beets marinated in vinegar, with Vermont goat cheese, free-range egg, red onions, and hazelnuts ($9.50).
The savory tarts change daily according to availability of ingredients. My favorite so far were the very unusual La Chambery Tart ($7.75) prepared with a beautiful combination of lentils, chicken, zucchini, cilantro, curry powder, onion, garlic and Dijon mustard; and La Toulon Tart ($7.75) with goat cheese, tomato, cilantro, garlic, and parsley.
There’s heartier fare as well for dinner, the cocottes. The Fennel and Cod ($12) is very attractive.
EKXi is also open for breakfast with good old-fashioned sweet and savory Belgian tarts, classic croissants ($2.50), and customized fruit salads and yogurt.
257 Park Avenue South
Monday–Friday, 7 a.m.– 9 p.m.
Saturday 8 a.m.–9 p.m.
Sunday 8 a.m.–8 p.m.