Green + The Grain

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https://www.facebook.com/greenandthegrain/info

https://twitter.com/GreenNtheGrain

Main Location: Minneapolis

By now I’ve made quite a few things known about what will and will not set me off through my various mobile visits. For example, the most puzzling oddity of someone indulging themselves in the street food culture only to get an item that is the most counterproductive I can think of; a Salad. Even more grievous are those places that seem to ruin what would otherwise be one of the perfect Food Truck offerings; my time at a certain vehicle still leaves a bad taste in my mouth from their attempt at Wraps.

So imagine my intrigue during my first visit of Green + The Grain, a very healthful and organic-inspired truck which made its way on the streets in June of this year, when my eyes sweep over a menu filled with nothing but these two different items which have made such an impact on me this past year. Only this time there actually seems to be a proper focus, and it’s actually done WELL.

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As you’ve surmised by now, GtG focuses on Salads and Wraps; or, to be more surprised, has a menu filled with different salads with the option of stuffing those same mixes into wraps (or vice versa). Peaking inside, one can see a whole row of mise en place stretching from one end of the giant order/delivery window to the end, each little container filled purely with greens, veggies, and the rare protein additions.

A seasonal menu, with various mix options supposedly changing at least once a week, future items may reach well beyond those discussed here (as should be considered for all seasonal Trucks I review, though I often fail to include the disclaimer due to laziness), but there seems to be a bit of a pattern so far. Chicken is the often-seen protein, commonly on the menu in Asian (also seen with Beef Tenderloin), Caesar, and Buffalo iterations, though the Berry Natural seems to be a set menu favorite, adding a delightful handful of fresh and dried fruit to the herb roasted poultry. If there’s anything that’s constant, outside of perhaps the Caesar, it’s the shared load of ingredients every single salad is filled with; greens, multiple veggies, croutons, apples, dressing, and who knows what else, the specifics of which morph and adjust depending on the final decision on focus.

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But of course there technically IS one other thing we can enjoy on our visits here; Organic Frozen Yogurt, supplied by Cloud Top and churned by GtG, garnished with whatever fruit and granola one desired. Their site does also make mention of a “signature tart,” though my luck in seeing it on my visit seemed to be quite poor. Ice cream machine wasn’t working either, luckily I wasn’t in the mood… maybe on future visits though…

So, what kind of potential can a downtown mobile Salad-based caterer have? Let’s find out.

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Food: 9.5

                I’ll admit, though my thoughts of it as street food is notably questionable, I still LOVE a GOOD Salad. An even dressing coating, with bright flavors and a range of crunchy texture, maybe some creaminess, just the best of lettuce and accompaniments. This pleasure has always been heightened even more when enjoyed inside a tight, soft tortilla shell.

So being able to have a wrap that properly fulfills these cravings, unlike the sad weak and dry versions seen in convenience stores and certain businesses, was quite the pleasure. All the vegetables were fresh, some apple slices brought the juicy crispness, and the croutons… oh the croutons. When I saw it opened up, I actually worried they may have already gotten soggy; silly me, their crunchiness was glorious as it should be. As for my salad of choice, Buffalo Shrimp, the shellfish was cooked properly with that nice snap, not dry or mealy. It wasn’t actually as “buffalo-y” as I though; the one thing I could say is that the flavor didn’t come through quite as much with everything else going on, but I still got some of that nice little heat here throughout. A good kind of hot sauce marinade, not the cliché traffic-warning-orange-colored stuff some places get in gallon jugs. Their use and manipulation of it allows my assumptions to stay positive in how they handle their other proteins and sauces/marinades.

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Holdability: 7

                 The first hurdle in a truck like this is, of course, their handling and display of the salad; and though one can never change its inability to eat with one hand when served plain, I do like and respect GnG’s packaging for the copious vegetation. A nice, tight, compact bowl that seems easy to carry and likely easy to consume out of. Ironically, it’s where the wraps come into play that issues pop up. It’s such a great way to eat on the go, a nicely tight, folded package around delicious filling, wrapped again in parchment to handle/avoid mess… and then they cut the damn thing in half, completely negating the whole purpose. I mean, I don’t mind having it halved in a restaurant, but now a one-handed ease venture turned into using both hands and trying to figure out how to ease it from its parchment bindings without everything collapsing on itself (I couldn’t quite figure it out, had some spillage). It makes something that should have been simple into an annoying challenge.

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Price: 6.5

                  Besides a $4 Soft Serve Yogurt ($6 for the large) and I’m assuming similarly priced Tart (or fruit cup in today’s case… interesting), every main-menu item is $9. Or, to be more honest, almost $10 with the tax; definitely one of the higher “set costs” on the street, though at the very least they DO give out a good amount of product for it. Tasty ones at that.

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Speed: 8.5

  Somewhat faster than average, it doesn’t take too long to pile and mix the various greens and fillings of these ingredients together and in a bowl or wrap of your choosing, even (or especially) with the decently sized serving.

The TOE: 9

                  Gotta give them credit for taking a style that makes my approach quite cautious and dubious and being able to turn it into a pretty fun and interesting visit. Image is clean and bright, sense of place is strong, and menu options are intriguing enough to create a need to come back (dessert… need…). Now if they only stop cutting our salad burritos in half then they could be a fully-load, strong warrior of the street.

Tally: 40.5/50

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Final Thoughts

Sad as it is to say, despite the Wraps this is still not one of the ideal mobile stops for those wanting to eat their main items while walking; best enjoyed sitting down. That said, whether your cravings lead to a boring salad (boooooooo) or an exciting version wrapped inside a tortilla (Yaaaaaaaaaaayyyyy… I’m not biased at all am I?), there are some fun ways to go.

There seem to be a few customer favorites, though overall I think the best experiences would lead from ordering the Asian Chicken/Beef, perhaps a Buffalo option, or one of the more interesting Seasonals (we still have yet to see what all they may have yet to do). Outside of this, their Tart looks to be a great small item as the snack-on-the-go, between stops or when one just wants something sweet. Frozen Yogurt is always good, but one can get that at a lot of places, I wouldn’t put it high on one’s list until they’ve tried other things desired.

Dredi’s

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https://www.facebook.com/dredispatties

https://twitter.com/DredisPatties

Main Location: Minneapolis

You know, I really like those big, flashy, Caribbean and Southern BBQ catering trucks we tend to see at various neighborhood events, music fests, etc. Sadly, mental quandaries still seem to abound in my head, ruining my desire to review them by dancing around my own arguable and annoying rules for what I consider a “food truck,” at least the kind that’s centered around this blog. They’re rarely if ever seen on the common streets or by breweries, the businesses are more a colorful catering vehicle (huge, by the way), not to mention the menus are often so relatively intimidating in scope, don’t think I’d ever be able to get through all I’d need for a review after even two visits!

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Fade to Dredi’s, a relatively new (officially they opened last August, but I don’t think they were really even present until this year), shiny metal trailer box, or whatever they’re called, with a centered focus on one of the ubiquitous items seen in many Island catering trucks: the Jamaican Pattie.

To be specific, the BEEF Pattie. A savory package of stewed and lightly spiced ground beef enclosed in a somewhat flat, square little package of savory, craveably golden shortcrust (same style as pie) dough. This is sold as-is or “Full House,” an intriguing idea where it’s sliced horizontally and turned into a Sandwich with lettuce, tomato, and cheese. One can get either of these as-is, in drink+chip combos, or alongside your own bottle of “Ting,” a Caribbean Grapefruit Soda. But that’s it, nothing else on the menu to arduously ponder over.

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So thankfully I finally have some sort of Caribbean truck on the scene; one of my favorite cuisines, I now have the chance to unabashedly review a business based on this spicy food subset. Now if only we can get some more out there to grab some proper Jerked Chicken Sammies!

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Food: 6.5

             I don’t know what it is about pastry doughs, the flaky texture of a pie, the crunch of a shell, possible juxtaposition with a softer inside, or just a subconscious reaction to all that butter we know is in there, but you’ve just gotta love them. This one was nice, with good color and savory crunch in it. The filling itself was pretty good, a moist beef stew with a decent flavor of spices to it. Not extremely exciting, though, being all ground beef; especially as it’s the only option.

In particular I found noted disappointment in the “Full House,”or more particularly the toppings used in it. Just simple, cold slices of lettuce and soft tomato, neither of which seemed to be of great quality, standing on either side of a floppy, limp piece of cheap American cheese. A combo I expect to find in a fast food joint, only stuck on top of something that deserves much better.

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Interestingly enough, though, the Ting didn’t remark upon me that much as-is (tasted like most lemon-lime sodas), it made a surpisingly nice pairing with the lightly spiced beef. Oh, and don’t forget to get some Hot Sauce!

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Holdability: 9.5

              Much like Potter’s, these dough-enwrapped items make for the perfect walking snack on their own, coming in a simple brown sleeve one can slide down as needed (a-la McDonald’s hash browns). The Full House though, while still really well kept together, can be a touch messy with the inner stew now exposed, particularly when having one’s other hand full with a Ting.

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Price: 9.5

               On their own the Pattie and Full House are $4 and $5 respectively, adding 50c for combos leaves a pretty good deal for one’s wallet. My only gripe is that the Ting is a set $2 with no seeming way to reduce, which isn’t even that bad on its own (I’ve paid that much for Mexican Coke on the Street… man that came out so wrong. You know what I mean).

Speed: 9.5

              Other than taking about a minute or so to cut and assemble a Full House (gotta be careful with that pastry crust), instantaneous delivery of warm pocket goodness.

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The TOE: 4.5

               Though many of the points indeed hit home with ideal Food Truck operations (by my ratings), Dedri’s seems to be currently lacking full spirit behind the food they serve. It’s a great, perfectly mobile option with an interesting promise in the idea of turning it into the sandwich, but they haven’t really done anythingwith it. There’s only the one, really simple beef patty, of which they use only the most basic and cheap burger toppings for its transformation. I wanna see them have a few more options for filling, like a jerk chicken or pork or a starchy vegetarian (or whatever really), and then take it up a knotch with different KINDS of good, tasty sandwich toppings. Sauteed mushrooms, roasted peppers, sauces, not-shitty-cheese, bacon, it could be anything but not JUST what I got today. So much potential is behind this simple idea, but the lack of realizing even part of it in any exciting sense ends up bringing me down a bit further. I hope I can see them try some fun things in the future.

Tally: 39.5/50

Final Thoughts

For those requiring similar needs as the mobile greats such as Potter’s and Nate’s (hey it rhymes), grab yourself a Beef Pattie(with Hot Sauce!) and bottle of Tingfor a tasty $6 treat and drink on the street. Separate or together they’re also great as smaller, cheaper, not-so-filling in between snacks on the longer Food Truck Day ventures. And though interesting, I wouldn’t suggest getting the Full House until Dredi’s has updated the topping selection.