Animo Juice Is Muddled and Confused
The popular Haddonfield destination is big on health—and prices—but short on flavor, says our food writer.
When I was a kid, my family and I vacationed in Seattle. It’s a beautiful city, if you’ve never been; catch it during a stretch of sunshine and you’re in for a treat.
While at breakfast one morning, I noticed one of the available sides was “Philadelphia scrapple.” Like most people raised in the Delaware Valley, I’m a scrapple fanatic.
I excitedly placed an order, and for my efforts received a mushy brown block that had more in common with a granola bar than a piece of scrapple. Everything about it was wrong. The color was off, the spices weren’t right, and for some reason, there were chunks of carrot in it.
The point is, somewhere along the way on its 3,000-mile journey northwest, the concept of scrapple changed. Something was lost in translation. Maybe they were into that mushy, mystery vegetable block in Seattle, but it was in no way Philadelphia scrapple.
I ran into a similar problem at Animo Juice, an ultra-health burrito and juice bar located at 113 Kings Highway in Haddonfield. The menu is a scattered assortment of burritos, soups, juices, blends and protein shakes. It’s a strange mash of ideas, and certainly exciting, assuming the ideas work.
Unfortunately, they don’t.
I stumbled upon a “scrapple problem” on my first visit. Animo Juice offers a “Mission-style” burrito, named after the gargantuan flavor missiles born and made famous in the Mission District of San Francisco.
Mission-style burritos are to San Francisco what cheesesteaks are to Philadelphia, only better. A Mission-style burrito is nearly two delicious pounds of rice, beans, salsa, avocado, sour cream and choice of meats, including carne asada, al pastor, carnitas, chile verde, chorizo, lengua, sesos and cabeza.
The Mission Street burrito at Animo Juice doesn’t have this abundance of wonderful, marinated meats, with only chicken, steak and pork available. That wasn’t the problem, however. I would have considered it a bonus if I stumbled across some authentic carne asada.
The problem was a mini-me burrito coming in at just over half the size of the real deal and priced at over a dollar higher than what you’re going to find in San Francisco, with about half the flavor.
Maybe I’m nitpicking about the price, but on a return trip, I spent $30 on two burritos and two juices, and received two 12-ounce cups of juice and two incorrectly prepared burritos that tasted like cafeteria wraps.
I did enjoy the Green Lemon-Aid juice, an interesting blend of spinach, apple and lemon that was refreshing and packed a nice, tart punch. The same could not be said for my Southwestern burrito, stuffed with chicken (despite asking for pork) and far too much lettuce, resulting in an unpleasant, bitter aftertaste.
The Quick Chicken wasn’t much better. A mix of chicken, guacamole, lettuce, tomato and Animo vinaigrette, it packed about as much flavor as an ice cube.
Animo Juice’s shtick is that they offer nutritious food made with high-quality ingredients. Their sour cream is low-fat, their pinto beans and brown rice are organic, and their meats are certified humanely raised on a vegetarian diet with no added hormones or antibiotics.
There is just very little on the menu that actually works, or entices guests to return after their initial curiosity is sated. If the folks at Animo Juice showed the kind of dedication to developing flavors that they put toward obtaining high-quality ingredients, they’d be a premiere destination in Haddonfield.
As it stands now, I’ll stick to Whole Foods.
- Foie Gras Fridays at Blackbird in Collingswood! Chef Alex is offering pan seared foie gras with any first course or entrée for just $5 on Fridays.
- A lot of local restaurants are offering special Father’s Day menus. Apologies for not featuring them in a column, but that shouldn’t stop you from using the Internet and finding somewhere great to bring dad.
- Pat’s Pizzeria in Haddon Township is changing its name to Emil’s Family Restaurant. No change in management or menu, but just keep it in mind.
- Follow me on Twitter @davevaliante! I’ll be tweeting the latest on foodstuffs in the area, amongst other gems.