Ed. - A special field report from Margaret Harper:

2006_02_freshdining.jpgPurveyors of all things portable, the grocery delivery service, Fresh Direct, is now offering Fresh Dining meals. Prepared, but raw, these meals are geared to the health and taste conscious, but time-challenged individual. Fresh Direct offers several options, ranging from $6.99-$9.99, four fish, three chicken and a veggie selection. Each single serving meal comes in a microwavable plastic container and supposedly has a five day shelf life. Convenient, healthy and affordable...theoretically this should have been a life saver... a real boon to the busy Gothamite.In reality, however, it was far less impressive.

After cooking our dishes, the teryaki chicken and massaman curry, for the prescribed 3 and a half minutes, we sat down ready to be impressed by the 'freshness' of our meals. Oh, wait...still not quite done.Okay, after cooking our dishes for an additional minute, we sat down to eat.The teryaki chicken included basmati rice and assorted veggies, which were still a bit underdone.It earned only a rating of 'fair' and tasted really no fresher than a frozen meal. The massaman curry was also fair, but its taste was overshadowed by its possible lethality.After finishing all but one bit, Gothamist found a piece of chicken at the bottom that was still half raw. Not a pleasant way to end a meal.


The bottom line: don't trust their cooking directions. Also, don't trust their 'guarantee' of a five day shelf life. Our meals arrived on the 23rd with an expiration date of the 26th. Though Gothamist has enjoyed many other prepared foods from Fresh Direct (the penne vodka and mac and cheese were particularly yummy), the new 'Fresh Dining Meals' have come up short. We should probably try the other options before giving a definitive thumbs down, but, honestly, we'd rather spend the money on a pizza.

By Margaret Harper, special correspondent on location...in Brooklyn