Kasha's Kitchen in Kennedy's Natural Foods

Fast Food, Health Food, Vegetarian/Vegan
$$$$ ($14 and under)
Kasha's Kitchen in Kennedy's Natural Foods photo
Michael Temchine/For The Post
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Editorial Review

At this cheerily painted deli tucked into a natural foods store, serious principles are in play. Owner Kasha Neam explains.

"As I see it, food is healing," she says. But modern, processed foods have lost their power to heal. Neam sees a day when preservatives are not so abundant, but fresh, local, organic products are: "It's my dream."

She works at it, one sale at a time, in her small store in Falls Church City. Neam bought Kennedy's Natural Foods from its longtime owners 18 years ago and added the deli counter, building a repertoire of sandwiches and prepared food, much of it vegetarian- and vegan-friendly. Most of the produce and chicken she uses comes from farmers in the region. The sliced deli meats are Boar's Head brand.

Exhibit A in the healing department is her chicken soup ($2.99 for eight ounces, $4.99 for a pound), a hearty, long-cooked broth filled with vegetables and either a pasta or grain. Neam says it's a bestseller. She's also proud of her beef stew ($14.99 a pound). Grass-fed beef is cooked to falling-apart tenderness; a few vegetables are added later in the process so that they retain their integrity. It's classic comfort food.

But most of what's on the menu is sandwiches. A standout is the Power Veggie ($6.59), in which the usual suspects -- avocado, tomato, lettuce, red onion, bean sprouts, carrot and cucumber -- are enhanced by an inspired addition of pickled hot and sweet peppers. It's another top seller, as is the egg salad sandwich ($6.59), made with free-range eggs and spiked with sweet peppers and horseradish mustard.

The chicken salad sandwich ($6.89) is clean- and fresh-tasting, though those who like a chunkier texture will find it a little too homogenized. A flavorful roasted veggie sandwich ($6.89) has a filling of eggplant, mushrooms, onions, red pepper and garlic with a rich, almost smoky flavor.

Already substantial, all of the sandwiches can be bulked up with an array of vegetable toppings.

Neam bakes a variety of cookies every morning. If the delicious ginger molasses ones are on hand, grab some. At $1.99, the price is hefty, but so are the cookies, weighing in at nearly a quarter-pound apiece. We tasted one and left with four. Somehow, in a health food store, it seemed almost noble.

-- Jane Touzalin (April 2, 2008)