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Sprig’s plant-centric, fast-casual menu flaunts healthy options 

click to enlarge Savory oats with tamari greens pop under a bright dressing. - GRIFFIN SWARTZELL
  • Griffin Swartzell
  • Savory oats with tamari greens pop under a bright dressing.
The “wellness” movement has had impacts both negative and positive. On the one hand, there’s an industry of con artists and multi-level marketing scams dedicated to capitalizing on people’s anxieties about their health and their bodies. On the other hand, people with dietary restrictions and allergies have never been catered to so widely before. From a strictly culinary perspective, food awareness has opened the door for boundless attention directed toward cuisine that isn’t anchored to meat and sugar — that much acts as a palate refresher.

Enter Sprig, a fast-casual health-food eatery owned by Altitude Hospitality Group, the company behind Garden of the Gods Market & Café, Till Kitchen and The Pinery at the Hill among other efforts. Behind the kitchen and the menu stands chef Ben Hoffer, a Springs native who started his culinary career in his teens at Manitou Springs’ Craftwood Inn, later passing through MacKenzie’s Chop House and Café 36. He’s collaborated here with Portland-based HEART Creative Culinary Agency to devise a menu that celebrates bright, fresh flavors served at fast-casual speeds.

The kitchen turns out everything quickly enough for the spot to warrant drive-thru ordering by touchscreen. Inside, the space has a color scheme defined by clean off-whites and the tan of light woods, featuring communal tables and an odd little “stadium seating” area — two shelf-like benches with a ramp and rail to one side.
Location Details Sprig
7 Spectrum Loop, #120
Gleneagle
Colorado Springs, CO
266-2071
Mon – Sat: 7am – 4pm, Sun: 8am – 2pm

In past visits, including a media preview, we sampled fresh items like the Golden Goddess bowl, with choice of quinoa or brown rice, topped with a deliciously lively, ginger-forward, turmeric-yellow sauce on a roasted cauliflower and veggie mix that includes kale and seaweed. Hummus in the Mediterranean hummus bowl bears a slight grainy texture and stodginess, likely from the lack of sufficient olive oil, but the roasted cherry tomatoes, Kalamata olives and cucumber and a roasted garlic tahini sauce still help it make a fine bite.

On our most recent visit, we opt for the savory oats with tamari greens breakfast offering, which we pair with an espresso almond smoothie. The former sees overnight oats topped with greens cooked with garlic and tamari sauce, seasonal roasted vegetables and a steamed egg, all under a bright miso-sesame dressing. Customers can add a steamed egg, chicken or tempeh to any dish, and since ours comes with an egg already, we add tempeh for a little more protein. We encounter trouble only in that even the barely seasoned oats can’t fully dampen the intense saltiness of the greens when dispersed, making for a dish that’s a little saltier than we like. It’s delicious overall though, bursting with savory notes from the tamari and roasted mushrooms, topped also with carrots, parsnips, cauliflower and red onion.

The smoothie’s made with diner’s choice of soy, almond or coconut milk — no dairy milk available — eliminating ice from the equation with frozen banana chunks. They blend beautifully with espresso powder, cocoa and almond butter, making for a thick, smooth drink that travels from banana through almonds to coffee and cocoa with every sip. Plus, ours was so filling we took much of the oats home to eat later. Given that our total for the two items nearly hits $20 after tax, it’s nice to know we can more than fill up.

If the wellness movement has taught us anything, it’s that true quality tends to come at a price. Health food topping out here at $9 and $10 feels worth it.

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