Fresh City Market on Northwestern Ave in West Lafayette may seem like an unusual destination for the Dining Divas, but in addition to being a full service grocery store, they offer a changing daily menu of breakfast, lunch, and dinner items. The menu is on their website and includes ethnic themed buffets: African Monday, Italian Tuesday, Soul Food Wednesday, Latino Thursday, Mediterranean Friday, Asian Saturday, and Indian Sunday. Located across from Mackey Arena, they boast a superb selection of other prepared foods such as soups, salads, sandwiches, sushi, desserts, to name a few, that make life easy for the busy campus community.
Their executive chef, Hilda, has an impressive write-up: I came to Fresh City Market from South Africa after working at Cornell Dining, where I gained extensive culinary experience from a number of prestigious resorts and restaurants, including The Plettenbergbay Hotel, The Palace Five Star Hotel of the Lost City, Tsala Treetop Lodge and Singita Lebombo Five Star Relais Chateau Lodge in the heart of the National Kruger Park of South Africa. I have received numerous certifications including Executive Chef Certification and has received a Commis Chef Diploma from Warwick’s Chef School.
My passion for cooking began at my mother’s side, cooking for weddings, and I will never forget Grandma Maggie’s good cooking! While I am trained in classic French cuisine and love French food, there is nothing like a good BBQ.
My favorite thing about Fresh Market is seeing the regular lunch crowd and finding out what their favorite foods are (secret: Coach Painter’s favorite soup is mushroom)!
Despite the temptation to check out the buffet, we decided to sample the sushi bar with two chefs making fresh sushi to your special order while you wait or beautiful pre-made sushi rolls to grab and go.
Kay picked ‘Chef Sampler A’, an assorted seafood selection including white fish, smoked salmon, fresh salmon, crab, and even octopus powder. Her favorite was a roll with fish, avocado, and rice covered with a crunchy coating and hot sauce.
Margy had a sushi plate made to order. Sushi caprese roll was rice and avocado stacked between tomatoes and a generous wedge of cream cheese. She liked being able to get sushi ‘her way’, that is to say, vegetarian.
Jo had ‘Sushi Veggie Crunch’, which included cucumber, tomato, avocado, mushrooms and rice all rolled in a crispy crunchy coating. Yum!
We shared ‘Vegetable Grilled Dumpling’, 6 dumplings for $3.99. These were tasty, but would have been better warmed up. One of the things to take home to eat.
Several sauces including hot sauce, soy sauce, and of course wasabi and ginger accompanied the sushi.
Bev was so busy taking notes and enjoying that incredible wasabi sinus clearing effect that she neglected to write down which roll she had but it was really good!
We ate our meal in an upstairs room overlooking the grocery store which is used for meetings and cooking classes. From up there, we had a great view of the store with pillars painted by local artists. The inside of the market is very clean, attractive and modern with an industrial theme with exposed ducts.
There is also a long bar by a downstairs window with stools that people can eat at single file, but we longed for outside seating. Nothing attracts more diners than seeing diners so let’s hope they add some outdoor seating next spring!
Parking may seem daunting at FCM, but pull up to the garage door in the back and it opens automatically for retail parking. This is a welcome addition on this side of campus and not your typical grocery!