Upscale fare falls short at these 2 eateries
Joseph Shaul, Staff Writer
June 28, 2011
Filed under Arts & Culture
In the world of food, “Chain” generally equates to “Terrible.” Fast food is cheap, but the same wonder of centralized distribution that permits a $0.99 chalupa frequently produces limp vegetables, stale bread, and the Lovecraftian horror known as “cheese product”. Going out to eat at Taco Bell or Subway is an exercise in masochism, not gourmandise.
However, several recent franchises have tried to reverse this image by offering more upscale fare. Chains like Tagura, and Five Guys offer takeout featuring better ingredients and on-demand preparation. While pricier than traditional fast food, the result is a quality and frugal alternative to a sit-down restaurant – and Madisonians have turned out in droves.
The latest success story in upscale sandwich shops is Capriotti’s on Regent Street. Originally from Delaware, Capriotti’s adds to standard deli fare a selection of the idiosyncratic hoagie weirdness for which the East Coast is famous. Specialties include the Thanksgiving-themed Bobbie or the triple-decker dagwitch monstrosity known as a Cran-Slam Club.
Piled high with freshly roasted turkey, cranberry sauce, stuffing, and mayo, the Bobbie is a professional interpretation of a traditional Black Friday lunch. While the roast turkey was impressively robust and the dressings flavorful, the bread was stale – not something one would expect in an $8.50 sandwich.
The meatball sub was similarly disappointing. While the meatballs themselves were mildly seasoned but flavorful, the sauce and cheese were bland and textureless. The end effect was a rather tasteless and ordinary meatball grinder – the sort of thing I’d expect for $5 from Subway.
Equally disappointing was my evening at Fuzzy’s Tacos. Originally from Texas, Fuzzy’s offers baja-style tacos emphasizing fresh ingredients over the myriad array of braised and fried fillings prevalent in Mexican cuisine.
This focus on fresh ingredients can produce fantastic results, but is highly dependent on the quality of raw ingredients used. Crisp vegetables and fresh, flash-fried tempura can make for a truly epic fish taco, but the key words here are “crisp” and “fresh” – forego the good stuff, and the end result will suffer.
Fuzzy’s, sadly, is just another fast-food restaurant, albeit an expensive one. The pulled pork was flavorless, the fried fish mealy, and, most important of all, the vegetables were the sort of thing you’d expect to find on a Whopper. The white cheese crumbled on top is supposedly a Mexican farmer’s cheese, not feta – the fact that it just so happens to look, smell, and taste like cheap feta is no doubt a complete coincidence.
Upscale takeaway definitely has a future in Madison. Imports like Five Guys have provided Madison the opportunity to buy excellent food without the surcharge for fancy service, and we’ve flocked to them in droves. However, like all new things, a few too many people jump on the bandwagon – and both Capriotti’s and Fuzzy’s just don’t quite make the cut.