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Will Study For Food: A Crisp Review

In an area as confined as State College, it is always exciting when new venues come to town. Of course, as critics, it’s extremely easy to be skeptical about the success of new eateries. Especially in troubled economic times, restaurants here one day can be gone the next, without as much as a peep from a population that largely does the same. And yet, I think we can all agree that Crisp, the new salad/smoothie joint on the corner of Pugh and College is at any level a step up from its predecessor, a rather seedy-looking Mini Mart.

However, this isn’t saying much, as Crisp’s ancestor can hardly be called worthy competition. So, I trekked down College Ave. during a weekday lunchtime and found out what Crisp had to offer. Usually, when I check out a new eatery I run a few mental tests–beyond just “Does this taste good?” One of these is what I call the ‘Ten Dollar Test,’ a vital consideration for broke-ass college students. Basically, it asks ‘What can I buy for ten dollars?’ ‘Will this fill me up?’ and ‘Would I rather have spent the same amount somewhere else?’  Though there are definitely exceptions, ten dollars should simply be enough to get by for a decent meal in State College.

So, what do we learn by running Crisp through the gauntlet? For starters, it seems that for that amount of money, Crisp offers one of two choices: custom salad, or custom smoothie. Though the salad starts at a mere $4.25, it costs more for every ingredient you add, ranging from $.25 to $2. Unfortunately, the most delectable add-ins seem to reside at the more expensive side of that scale. The smoothies are the same story; they run at a little over $5 and allow for all sorts of ingredients, including honey, beets, and (your father smelt of) elderberries. Feeling romantic, I went for the Very Berry Kiss smoothie. Though delicious, I finished the nearly $6 beverage in record time, leaving me only wanting more.

Suppose you don’t care about the cost or are a serious smoothie/salad connoisseur. Is Crisp still worth it? Yes and no. The smoothies are quite delicious, but it seems to me that the name ‘Crisp’ denotes what should be an emphasis on salad. And while you can construct some really interesting leafy creations at Crisp, it really doesn’t have much more than what you can get at Simmons dining hall, for twice the cost and hassle. Make your own salad at home and you have Crisp beat by even more of a margin (if you are gastronomically creative).

If I am looking for a wheat-grass powershot or a fruit-juice explosion, Crisp may be the place to go. However, it takes way too much green to build a good salad–and I’m not talking about arugula.

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