José Andrés’ fast-casual venture, the vegetable-focused Beefsteak, opened today in the same building as George Washington University’s Science and Engineering Hall.

The Beefsteak experience will be familiar to anyone who’s visited a Chipotle or Cava Grill: get in line, pick out individual components for your bowl, and add on garnishes and sauces. Unlike other fast-casual joints, however, the cooking happens right in front of the customer at Beefsteak. After selecting your veggies, they’re boiled up in contraptions that look like McDonald’s deep-fryers.

There are four pre-fashioned bowls ($7.99) on the menu as well as the option to concoct your own medley of grains, vegetables, seeds, nuts, sauces, dressings, and animal-or-plant-based proteins. A huge variety of produce is on offer, but Beefsteak is currently missing its namesake tomatoes. (The only tomatoes available are the halved cherry ones hanging out in the garnish section.) Though meat is buried in the corners of the menu, roast chicken or salt-cured salmon is there for those who want it, as are poached eggs and avocado halves.

I sampled the Eden Bowl with quinoa, sweet peas, edamame, green beans, asparagus, broccoli, cilantro, roasted garlic yogurt, romaine, lemon honey, cucumber salad, scallions, sprouts, and toasted sesame seeds. Paired with salmon (an additional $2.99), it made for a not-insubstantial meal that landed somewhere between Chipotle levels of gut-busting and Sweetgreen’s rabbit food.

The restaurant’s designers are clearly thinking that it’s going to be a hit with the harried lunch-break crowd. Towards the back of the space, two stadium-style rows of minuscule tables the size of the trays beckon to the lonely office drones dining with their smartphones for company.

Like Shake Shack and some other fast-casual joints, craft beers and wine are on the drinks menu, alongside housemade lemonade and a rotating selection of juice medleys.

Here’s a look at the menu:

Beefsteak, 800 22nd St. NW; beefsteakveggies.com

 

Photo by James Constant