It's not simply those negative ions at the beach, or the influence of the crystal shop next door. Fresh to Go, the 7-month-old Venice takeout shop, has good energy all its own. It's a tiny little store with a baby-sized kitchen, where owner Barbara Jacobs, who may be up to her hands in pasta dough, hovers over her customers like a mama hen. The room's thick with Chiat/Day advertising folk and Gold's Gym body builders from down the street.
The Chiat/Day bunch seems to favor the cafe au lait, apricot scones and 10 varieties of bran muffins made with real fruit every day. Meanwhile, the Gold's Gym crowd goes for what one female mesomorph told me was the "clean Contest Diet food."
"Barbara doesn't use any salt and nothing's fried," she says. "I'm training and following the contest diet--no dairy, no fats--and there's lots of things to choose from here." The Gold's Gym favorite is chunks of skinless white meat chicken on a pillow of steamed brown rice. This biggest seller of the house is very tender--and very plain.
Simplicity reigns over the daily changing menu. In addition to the poached chicken/steamed rice combination, there are always whole roast chickens (often rubbed with fruit juices), baked potatoes and yams, and three kinds of freshly poached fish. Portions are large--items are priced by container size, not by pound--and prices are low. A moist baked chicken cost $6.25. A container of tile fish with lemon and garlic (it served two) was $5.50. A skewer of the moistest teriyaki swordfish, crisp sweet onions and yellow peppers was $2. A big heaping mound of brown rice was half that price.