Feb 20, 2010

Succotash's Successful Shift

A few weeks ago we tried to go to Succotash at their new location on the southeast corner of 26th and Holmes and found it to be so busy, we didn't even try to wait for a seat, opting, instead, to go a few blocks south to You Say Tomato. At 11:30 this Thursday, however, we found a more modest crowd on hand and saddled up for my first Succotash experience.

Succotash is a restaurant whose overall concept I regard highly. It's that funky, artsy type of place that feels like it cares much more about being unique and a good fit for the community than being a cash cow for its owners. The food is high quality, fresh and tasty. If you like brunch/soup/sandwich places like You Say Tomato, and Happy Gillis, you're likely to like Succotash as well. 

Thursday's lunch items were good... not great. I went for their turkey sandwich for two reasons: 1) I think a lunch spot's turkey sandwich says a lot about the motives of the menu's creator, and 2) because the ingredients sounded fantastic. A huge pile of turkey came on deliciously hearty bread (menu calls it "sesame french" but I don't think that's what I got), with thick cut bacon, two thick slices of smoked gouda cheese (I love smoked gouda) and tomato, mayo and dusseldorf mustard. It was an impressive sandwich but I could have used a little something more from the turkey. It clearly was cold cut meat, as opposed to being a bird they roasted on their own. And that's fine, but it was pretty plain. So abundantly heaped on the sandwich, it could have been better if it were smoked, or if they roasted their own. Still, I think the vast majority of people who order this sandwich will be pleased with the product.

My side of creamy macaroni with little pieces of tomato and bacon was cooling and quite delicious. I could have eaten an entire meal's-worth of it.

Elizabeth went for the caprese chicken wrap, which was the special of the day, and I talked her into getting a bowl of the crab bisque, as well. Her green wrap was filled with large chunks of chicken that she enjoyed, but if you don't like dark meat, this isn't the chicken wrap for you. Halved grape tomatoes, chunks of mozzarella, arugula and basil oil rounded out the ingredient list. The mozzarella was disappointingly sparse and the basil oil ran all over her hands and wrists, detracting from its appeal. So we don't recommend Succotash add this to the menu permanently.

The bisque was much better. We were pleasantly surprised by all the veggies and beans it contained. Usually bisques are one-note cream soups. This bisque came with large pieces of crab meat, thinly sliced sheets of potato, lima beans, asparagus spears, sweet corn kernels and more. So rather than slurping  liquid, we got heaping spoons full of delicious flavors and textures and really liked it. The bisque was quite savory, too, which also played to my tastes. Crab and cream can come off quite sweet, especially together. This bisque was deliciously salty.

The new space is actually not new at all. It feels a lot like YST, given it's identical relative location, but plays up the eclectic, funky, artsy aspect whereas YST is focused on a throwback feel. It works well, from the signature bright pink chandelier hanging over the entrance, to the varied collection of mismatched tables and chairs. Standing next to our our table was a plaster monkey who I called "the fashionable monkey" as he was outfitted with a navy blue stocking cap, scarf and matching navy blue Christian Dior tie. Divert your eyes, however, from the huge painting of the girl eating tomato soup. It's harrowing. The first time I saw it, over a 5 second timespan my reaction migrated from appreciation of the art to "ick!"

The dining room is one big rectangular space - no weird nooks or crannies and there was something I liked about its logical layout. It was comfortable. The one thing that made me far less comfortable was the lack of ventilation. The humidity created by the kitchen action made it feel like a steamy July night. I seriously felt like I was dining in a rain forest. Our mirror-topped table clung to our skin in a sickening way. It was pretty gross. I'm sure this excess humidity was a result of the limitations of the hundred year old building, but it needs to be addressed.

One quick note on service: it was fine, for the most part. We were waited on quickly, he checked back with us to make sure everything was good, and refilled our water. But when he refilled our water, he knowingly poured directly over-top my cell phone. Due to the aforementioned excess humidity, his pitcher had tons of condensation on the sides, which dripped all over my phone. Demerit. I won't pour harmful H2O all over your electronic devices if you don't do it to mine, okay?

Despite the humid climate and the sub-par special, I'm excited to go back to Succotash, for lunch again but also for breakfast. There are plenty more delicious-sounding choices on the menu I'm eager to try, and the atmosphere was nicely relaxed.

Rating: one napkin

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