This article is from David Tacheny, founder of Performance Athletics, which is located on the Upper West Side.
I recently met a friend for lunch at The Pump, the new “healthy” would-be love child of Chipotle Mexican Grill and Chopped, the make-your-own salad place here in New York. I had heard of this place once or twice, but when I saw a coupon in the paper, I thought, “These guys must be getting popular.” So, I decided to check them out. I cut the coupon and off a friend and I went. We got there just as the lunch rush was starting, which was a good thing. The line was soon nearly out the door. My friend had a grilled turkey “low-carb whole wheat twist” with brown rice, sweet potato, Swiss cheese and romaine lettuce and I had a “Super-charged Plate” with brown rice, sautéed spinach, grilled zucchini, tomato and “spicy bison meat balls.” We also both tried a “healthy” soda, made with dark cane sugar juice, as opposed to high-fructose corn syrup. The total cost of this “reasonably” portioned feast, about $20.
Honestly, I was hopeful, as the line indicated people are getting pumped for The Pump, but with the first bite, I was disappointed. Instead of the luke warm rice, I’d have loved to have seen Quinoa (pronounced keen-wah), a super hardy rice alternative, on the menu. Quinoa is low on the glycemic index and offers almost twice the number of healthy calories (almost none from fat) and lots of other benefits over rice, and comes in several interesting varieties. The calories in Quinoa are pure, high-fiber energy and would have been a welcome alternative to any kind of rice as I started the second half of my day. Although Bison is a much lower fat protein than beef, it needs to be prepared correctly, or it loses its subtly unique taste and ends ups instead coming off as overpriced, overcooked, dry beef. Unfortunately, my spicy meatballs were the size of grapes, over cooked, and not spicy.
Bummer! My friend’s wrap was “ok,” he said. Although I think he was just saying that to be nice, since the lunch was my suggestion. Honestly, I thought our sodas were the most interesting part of the lunch. I could definitely taste the difference between the cane sugar sweetened cola and a Coke or Pepsi, which both taste like cough syrup to me, and it was in a totally different class than the metallic acrid taste of aspartame sweetened drinks like Diet Coke. It was velvety and pleasantly sweet, like I imagine sodas were in the 1940’s, when my grandma was a “jerk” at the local USO. If you need that carbonated kick every once in a while, like, I admit, I do, I encourage you to try some of these “organic” varieties, but remember to drink them in moderation!
Overall I give The Pump credit for trying, but a good idea can only take you so far. Healthy food has to be tasty and priced right if we’re ever going to start choosing these options over their tastier, less healthy counterparts and becoming a slimmer country again. I think The Pump misses the bar in these areas. You might think differently. If you’d like to try The Pump yourself, they’re located at:
- 80 Pine Street
- 31 E. 21st Street
- 275 Madison Ave. at 40th Street
- 150 E. 52nd Street
- 40 W 55th Street
You can find out more about each location as well as contact information by visiting: http://www.thepumpenergyfood.com/ – /locations/swf/maps