Our latest installment of Quick Bites brings us to NoHo for gimmicks and avocado toast.

THE VIBE
Even in tony, trendy NoHo, the brand-new Honeybrains stands out for its eye-rolling conceit. More than just another avo-toast spot (though it is that)... more than a cafe where you can grab a latte when Colombe is too packed (it's also that)... more than a juice bar hawking cure-all bottles of self-proclaimed "liquid love" (yup, that too)... Honeybrains, per the founders, one of whom is a neurologist, has arrived "to translate the most reliable, collective scientific knowledge about brain health—which is intimately related to body health—into enjoyable foods, drinks, and experiences."

You can read the restaurant's whole L.I.F.E. Process manifesto on their website, and of course there's nothing wrong with eating healthy foods and caring about your brain, but still, it's hard not feel a little snake-oiled here.

Honeybrains clearly had a hefty design and decor budget, and it's the most luxurious "greens and grains" counter-service restaurant I've yet to see. Once you order your food and/or beverage, sink into the low-backed, cushioned banquette that runs the length of the window onto Lafayette Street, or take advantage of the charging stations built into the wide, heavy communal table, complete with a row of succulents to keep your neighbors at bay. You'll find that the stools up here provide excellent lumbar support.

Hand-lettered wellness slogans, attractively-lit jars of $23 honey (the coffee area also functions as a raw honey bar), and a dramatic honeycombed ceiling complete the expensive-looking room.

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(Photo by Scott Lynch/Gothamist)

THE BITES
Given the amount of money and energy they've spent on all of the above, and on the concept behind each dish on the menu, it surprised me how little care was paid to the actual food itself.

In true grab-n-go fashion, much of the menu is pre-made, stored in what appears to be compostable containers, and refrigerated. The efficiency of this method is obvious, but the eating pleasure always suffers. The Soy Soba Bowl, for example, was awful: cold, bland (other than an astonishing amount of salt in sauce), irredeemably mushy. I didn't dare try anything else from the fridge.

Instead I ordered a hot sandwich one night, called the Wake and Steak, and it was borderline appealing, with coffee-crusted beef, a leaf of lettuce, and a thin layer of smashed potatoes. They initially forgot to give me the accompanying green honey sauce, but once it arrived it picked things up considerably. Note, though, that is a very small sandwich.

My Avo Smash sandwich on a subsequent visit was also made-to-order, and the seedy bread was very good, but there really wasn't much going on between the slices. Some sweetness (from honey), some sprouts, a bit of black-chili spiciness, that's about it. It was almost as if they had run out of avocados. Which, considering how unripe the $4 half avo they served me another night was—drizzled with "HB Japanese Knotweed Honey", which sounded exotic, but was dull—is a distinct possibly.

The best dish I ate at Honeybrains was the Daily Catch Plate, starring a small but okay piece of salmon, a pile of streamed kale, some heavy sweet potatoes and a honey-based sauce that was alarmingly globby but tasted fine.

The coffee was good; the hot chocolate was flavorless.

THE VERDICT
Honeybrains was bustling with curious tourists and NoHo locals late last Saturday afternoon, and maybe the post-SoulCycle crowd will provide the place with a steady stream of health-conscious customers. Unsurprisingly, I didn't feel any healthier, and definitely not any smarter, after two meals here, each of which cost me about $30. Both times, however, I did walk away feeling hungry.

Honeybrains is located at 372 Lafayette Street, between Bond and Great Jones, and is opewn weekdays from 7:30 a.m. to 9 p.m., and weekends from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. (646-678-4092; honeybrains.com)