Fred’s on Washington, in the former Babo retail space, welcomes guests with an expanse of clean, white tile, bright lighting, the whirr of blenders in harmony and an array of succulents. Harkening back to its former incarnation as a South U carry out counter, the new store brings the best from that cramped space by adding the scrubbed, virtuous feeling that comes with menu items that are thoughtfully created, with locally sourced ingredients and a good-for-you vibe.
Fred, the owner, named the place after himself to demonstrate that the entire experience has his seal of approval. He stopped at our table during our visit to introduce himself and give us some insight into his ideas, explaining that he took the things he loves the most in the restaurant business and put them together to create this spot. In the hospitality/food service business over the last 15 plus years in a number of different positions, Fred is proud of what he and his team have created and it shows.
The Ahi tuna Poke (po-kay) bowl is a treat. Cubed tuna surrounded by sections of seaweed salad, diced mangoes, edamame, pickled ginger and onion cucumber pico all perched atop of bed of warm brown rice, was enough, but not too much, for a late lunch. Unadorned, save for a hint of aioli-type sauce, the poke needed no assistance to enhance the flavor – leaving the offered Sriracha and Cholula untouched.
The comfortable, instrumental soundtrack and the fresh, wholesome appearance of the fetching staff coaxes all to relax.
The Spicy Chicken sandwich is a hearty lunch, surprisingly light while leaving satisfied, sans the need for the 3pm nap. The chicken was tender and accompanied by several delectable vegetables including kale, cucumber, pickled red onion and finished with Tillamook cheddar and a spicy mayo. I skipped the option to add avocado for an additional $2. While the chicken was not too spicy (as a point of reference, I really enjoy spice) and neither was the mayo, the most noticeable flavor was a unique tang that graced my palate, from what I can only assume was the pickled red onions.
The Southwestern Quinoa bowl combines something light, like a salad, for someone who can’t quite sustain themselves through an entire day eating “rabbit food” with a base of quinoa, topped with jalapenos, bell peppers, onions, toasted pumpkin seeds and a chipotle lime dressing that ties everything together.
Fred’s is hitting its groove in the new location, bringing the same fresh food and clean atmosphere to a bigger space downtown. With couches, a coffee bar and expansive table space, it’s built to eat, study, work and hold meetings. We give Fred’s a ringing endorsement for lunch anytime.
403 E Washington St, Ann Arbor
M-F: 8AM-9PM | Weekends: 9AM-9PM
(734) 669-3552 | instagram.com/fredslol/