Flower Child

About a year ago, the Jasons Deli in the shopping mall across from Hill Country Middle School closed down. Disappointment and anger made waves through the Westlake community as a staple restaurant was permanently closed. Not only did it serve cheap and affordable food, but it was a community center, a communal ground where people could forget the societal chains that handcuffed them, a place where race, religion and creed didn’t matter*. It provided jobs for the elderly and fostered an inclusive and comforting environment. Then the Westlake Jason’s Deli closed out of the blue, much to my dismay, and it was announced that it would be replaced by a “Flower Child.” This addition is part of what seems to be a revamp of the shopping mall as a new fancy pizza shop and a modern bakery opened up around the same time. I was initially excited about the announcement of the new Flower Child. While I was still angry about the death of Jason’s Deli, my traditional Shiva period of mourning (7 days) was over and I was ready for something new. I hadn’t eaten at a Flower Child before, but I expected it to be similar to the acclaimed True Foods Kitchen in both creativity and quality. This was the farthest thing from the truth.

Stepping into the restaurant space I was somewhat impressed with the decor and layout but my excitement was immediately suppressed by the blaring music. While I wasn’t angry with the music choice, a mix of new wave revival hits and alternative headliners from popular bands like Cage the Elephant, I was taken aback by how loud it was in there as I could barely hear the cashier who was taking our order. The second thing that caught my eye were the high prices, upward of $17per dish, but I trekked on through my dining experience. I initially garnered interest in the ramen dish but I was informed they ran out, so I settled for the build your-own chicken platter, which was extremely reminiscent of the dish offered at Modern Market across the street. My family and I sat down after getting water from the water dispenser evocative of an industrial air conditioner, and were immediately served two out of the four dishes we ordered. While I would have preferred all of our food to come out at the same time, I assuaged myself as I assumed my food would come out shortly after, I was wrong as it took almost 15 minutes for the rest of our food to come out and my brother and mother had already finished their dishes.

But what about the quality of the food? My meager portion of chicken was well cooked, but under-seasoned as the skin was removed, and my Indian spiced cauliflower was criminally undercooked. The butternut squash risotto I ordered was inconsistent in texture and had way too much allspice in it. The Avocado Hummus was creative but it turned out just to be green hummus with a couple pumpkin seeds scattered throughout. Thankfully my meal was over and I was ready to leave the hell scape that was Flower Child. It was fittingly gloomy outside and my day was ruined; I quickly sped home wondering what went wrong.

Jason’s Deli was a uniquely comforting restaurant that provided a good cheap and hearty meal whenever you needed one, not to mention the free ice cream. Now we are stuck with a meaningless corporate waste of space restaurant that is nearly identical to the modern market across the street but only more expensive and frankly just worse. Flower Child is so wholly unoriginal that the only description that they could muster when writing up their website is a “healthy restaurant in Austin.” Where is the passion? Where is the glory? What happened? I can only assume a boardroom of suits are laughing as they get richer off the Westlake community.

*I am not presuming Flower Child discriminates against anyone