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Beefsteak, a new restaurant featuring vegetable-based cuisine, will open in Houston Market in early 2016. | DP File Photo

Credit: Luke Chen

Shortly after opening organic Pure Fare in Houston Market, Penn Dining is announcing the opening of another veggie-centric restaurant in the building.

Beefsteak, created by Chef Jose Andres, is a new restaurant concept featuring fast, healthy and casual cuisine, which will open in Houston Market for early 2016.

“We have taken the vegetable and made it more of a center-plate item. When you come to our restaurant, you can choose from a variety of fresh-picked vegetables ... as many as you want really, and our bowl becomes the volume for the vegetables that you’ll get,” Director of Operations for Beefsteak Jim Biafore said.

Beefsteak’s featured item is its bowls, which consist of a choice of vegetables blanched to order — meaning they are boiled and then put in ice water — grains like rice or quinoa, housemade sauces and a variety of toppings like mozzarella or light dressing. Beefsteak features four predesigned vegetable bowls, but customers can create an unlimited number of custom combinations.

“You can create a different experience every time you come in. It can be a spicy flavor the one day, and then an Asian flavor followed by a Mexican profile,” Biafore said.

Everything is cooked to order, and vegetables are all cut precisely to cook evenly for the same amount of time. Beefsteak is not strictly vegetable-focused, as add-ons include chicken, soft-boiled eggs and salt-cured salmon.

One frequently asked question is why a vegetable-centric restaurant has double meats in its name. “[Our name] relates to the beefsteak tomato and its quality, and it’s also a playful way for us to introduce ourselves to our customers,” Biafore said. “We didn’t want to take ourselves too seriously.”

Beefsteak’s first retail location opened March 20 at George Washington University, followed by another location in the D.C. area.

“I’m so excited to be opening my first Beefsteak location in Philadelphia and I can’t imagine a better location than the University of Pennsylvania,” Andres said in a press release. “I believe students love veggies as much as I do, and are more and more looking for quick delicious meals that are also good for them — a concept I like to call fast-good. Vegetables are so fun and sexy, and I’m thrilled for the people of Philadelphia to experience their limitless possibilities and flavors!”

Like Houston Market’s recently opened Pure Fare, Beefsteak will expand Penn Dining and Bon Appétit’s selection of fresh meat-optional products.

“It also ties into our health and wellness initiatives on campus by allowing us to offer and promote healthy foods to students even more so,” Resident District Manager of Bon Appétit Stephen Scardina said. “And our goals fit in with what Chef Andres is trying to do with his food as well.”

Bon Appétit will staff and oversee the future Beefsteak in Houston Market. Beefsteak will take the location where Einstein Bros Bagels used to be.

Andres will be the second celebrity chef to open a retail location with Penn Dining, the first being “Top Chef” winner Rick Bayless with his Tortas Frontera in the ARCH.

“College students are very intelligent and passionate about what they eat. We wanted a very educated consumer because we’re very transparent about our process,” Biafore said. “There are no preservatives, no additives — I don’t have a freezer or a microwave in the restaurant — it’s all fresh, and it’s all about quality.”`

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