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Aug 22, 2017
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Intelligent Content For The Food Fascinated
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SERVING SAINT LOUIS SINCE 1999
Power Lunch
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Lunch Rush: SymBowl
By Andrew Barrett | Photos by Michelle Volansky
Posted On: 04/01/2017   


SymBowl, formerly The HotPot, touts fresh, local options meant to make it easy to eat healthy. With a vast build-your-own menu offering up a lot of choices for bowls, wraps and salads without a lot of guidance, I actually found it a little daunting. Luckily, the staff was happy to give suggestions. Iím privileged not to have any dietary restrictions, but if youíre someone who has a tough time finding a place to accommodate an autoimmune, gluten-free, vegan or paleo diet, SymBowl has you covered with separate menus for each. And for a place with such a healthy and crunchy vibe, the portion sizes are decidedly American.


The Wraps
Just get a wrap. Beef and pork are the most flavorful of the protein options Ė the braised beef is super tender and juicy and the roasted pork is crispy and comes in little chunks nearly indistinguishable from bacon (which is high praise). Complement either with something crunchy: Napa cabbage was a nice addition, as was the mild onion bite of scallions, and they have a great selection of other greens. Finish it off with the mysterious S.A.L.a.D. dressing. The menu doesnít explain that itís like a creamy avocado-green goddess dressing, but a quick call confirmed that the acronym stands for soy, avocado, lime and Dijon. Itís the best sauce on the menu, and people may not know it. The tortilla is another highlight: made from sunflower seed flour, itís fluffy and crepe-like. My wrap came open on both ends (not sure if that was a mistake or a feature), and stuck to the wax paper it came parceled in, but those little quibbles werenít deal-breakers for my favorite thing on the menu.


Smoothies and juice
Smoothies and juice are big at SymBowl. Each juice is freshly squeezed or pressed and raw Ė without additives. If youíre a wimp like me, some (like the Drop the Beet, made with beet, celery and carrot) can be a tad earthy and unsweet, served at room temperature. But there are plenty of more approachable options. The Tanner smoothie, made with pineapple, mango and coconut cream was a real treat.


Tea
Instead of a soda fountain, SymBowl has a selection of three freshly brewed iced teas. All the ones I tried were delicious, and they even provided agave syrup to sweeten each to my child-like preference. My favorite was a mix of the black tea with the mango-pineapple. The combo was like a better QuikTrip tea Ė which I mean in the best possible way. I donít always love iced tea, but these bowled me over.


The Downside
After studying the menu like the Rosetta stone, you may feel as though youíve decoded something delicious. But be wary, adventurer. Every bowl I tried ended up soupy Ė even ones that should have had very little excess water. Maybe itís from sauteeing the veggies or cooking the carbs, but something creates a crock of condensation. I expected a kind of bento bowl from an order of chicken, vegetables, spicy miso and yaki sauces over rice, but what I got was closer to soup with the rice as floaters in a bland broth. Iím a huge fan of bowl-of-stuff meals and was disappointed that SymBowl didnít provide an experience I was stoked about. If youíre going for a salad or a wrap and a glass of iced tea, itís a winner, but I wouldnít recommend the namesake.




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