by Elad Levy-Racin, Opinions writer
photos by Marty Basaria and Mary Pierce
An interesting choice for a hot meal, the breaded fish with potatoes that I tried were a tad flimsy, but did provide one crucial component that many other renditions fail to deliver: a true essence of fish flavor. The sheer presence of fishiness lifted the quality of the course and delighted my taste buds.
The meal exceeded my expectations; mastering fish is a difficult feat for even the most brilliant of chefs. However, the outer breading was far too salty. Maybe the creative chefs at the South Café were trying to channel the salty flavor of the sea, but sadly, the result was a tsunami of sodium.
As for the potatoes, they were sliced too thick and did not maintain a solid structure throughout, as they quickly became mushy. This potato bake, however, posed as a solid option to fill my stomach, and it complemented the fish nicely.
Although South’s fish sticks were lukewarm and inoffensive to the tastebuds and stomach, free seafood is never a good idea.
The chicken caesar salad was the most pleasant surprise of all. It contained just a few ingredients: fresh lettuce, herbed croutons, savory cheese and a slightly-soggy chicken patty.
Although perhaps unintentional, the crispness of the lettuce and croutons complemented the soft chicken nicely. The mix was topped off with a creamy caesar dressing, which had light notes of fish flavor with the sodium-heavy anchovy, parmesan and garlic blended in the thick sauce.
Unfortunately, I did have some trouble opening the dressing’s packaging and had to pry it open with the flimsy tines of my plastic fork. Once open, however, the sauce was an umami delight for the tastebuds.
I recommend eating this dish quickly after tossing it in dressing, before the vibrant lettuce has a chance to wilt under the heavy sauce. When enjoyed promptly, this salad proves the old adage of quality over quantity, as the simplicity of the dish allowed each component to shine.
This was a fun food to eat, a rarity – I don’t eat pizza very often since it clashes with my ideal diet, which consists solely of high-grade truffles and Strottarga Bianco caviar. It lacked in flavor complexity compared to other pizzas that I have enjoyed, but overall, it was highly acceptable.
I was especially impressed by the caramelized cheese bubbles that developed when the pizza was broiled. Its cheese was delicate and quick to separate from the crust when provoked. The crust itself was underwhelming — its wonderfully dark color suggested a certain crispiness that it regrettably lacked.
I felt that the best part of the pizza was the sauce: the tomato-based marinara sauce was flavorful and appetizing, teasing my tastebuds with notes of oregano. While this pie was by no means the greatest pizza I have ever had, at least it was better than the abominations that are most Hawaiian pizzas. I don’t know who needs to hear it, but pineapple has no place on pizza!
Sandwiches are a fickle beast. They seem simple enough to prepare, but a multitude of things can go wrong — first, sogginess. The ham and cheese sandwich I tasted succumbed to this fatal flaw. Along with the requisite ham and cheese, this dish contained tomato slices and lettuce.
The untoasted bread had no protection from the moisture of the juicy tomato, leading to an unpleasant mouth feel. However, the sandwich’s innards fit well together, and no ingredients clashed, redeeming it significantly. The savory cured meat worked wonders when contrasted with the creamy cheese. The tomato added a sweet and acidic brightness, but it was stifled by the crisp, but watery, lettuce. It wasn’t a textural masterpiece, but it still satisfied my selective stomach.
I have traveled the world, sampling sandwiches from all over, and in my expert opinion, even Subway, the world’s most popular sandwich spot, has got nothing on South’s star sandwiches!