It's a bit mind-blowing, when one is of an age that one rarely is offered anything but the least serious illegal drugs, to realize one's place of employment is perceived as a citadel of crunchy-granola neo-hippies. But the proof is right there on the menu of the Daily Creative Food Co., one of the first of what will soon, presumably, be many casually upscale-looking cafés in the Performing Arts Center area.
The place's theme, evident in a logo featuring a cartoonish Depression-era paperboy, is journalism, and though there's a fashionable create-your-own option, almost all of the signature sandwiches chef-designed combinations are named for newspapers. The Miami Herald, for instance, is a hefty breaded chicken cutlet with provolone, artichokes, olives, and roasted peppers. The Sun Sentinel is an even more macho heap of protein and fat: a Russian dressing-slathered turkey/bacon/provolone club sandwich with all the trimmings.
The Miami New Times? Veggies layers of zucchini, red peppers, decidedly limp spinach, and, the sandwich's meat-mimicking component, a reportedly grilled Portobello slice that lacked any flame flavor. Well, I guess we shouldn't have expected foie gras. At least the vegetables were plentiful, and chewy ciabatta bread seemed like the kind of satisfying story a reporter could really sink her teeth into. Sun-dried tomato pesto added an ample amount of assertive flavor. And the combo's sole source of protein, several small slivers of mozzarella, was good-quality fresh cheese, if not much of it.
More appropriate to this publication, in my opinion, would be one of the only two signature sandwiches not named for newspapers: a lobster club, featuring two tiny but whole split Caribbean lobster tails plus bacon, lettuce, and tomato. The club (actually a two- rather than three-layer faux club), which was supposed to come on rye, arrived on multigrain bread that was good enough to make the factual error forgivable. Although the sandwich's elevated price puts it well beyond the range of New Times's more PB&J-level paychecks, its condiment is spiked with Bacardi rum, long a favorite staff sauce (albeit minus this mix's mayo and chili).
Similar superior saucing a cucumber/wasabi dressing with a sublime amount of burn made the Wall Street Journal (smoked salmon, avocado, tomato, and alfalfa sprouts on tangy pumpernickel) another winner. Much less satisfying was the Paper Boy, a panino, which at the Daily means a hot pressed sandwich; in Italian (and in Italy, where panini are often served cold) the word means "small bread roll." The sandwich's chalky baguette chunk was indeed small, but if the listed "Italian Genoa salami" was actually imported from Italy, I'd eat my hat thankfully. It would have been preferable to the provolone, which bore a processed flavor, and slimy, near-melted arugula that should have been added postpressing.
The reasonably priced café also serves sweets (including child/inner child-friendly Rice Krispies Treats) and do-it-yourself salads, the latter a choice of five greens plus four of several dozen available toppings. Because quality, during two visits, varied wildly (sprightly green asparagus, wilted brown bean sprouts), I advise cruising the ingredients bar before ordering. A mango vinaigrette-dressed combo of fairly fresh mesclun plus bacon, blue cheese, excellent crisp-fried onion strings, and caramelized pecans was quite tasty, despite the microscopic size of the alleged pecan nubs. Ah, well. In the journalism world, big stories, too, often turn out to be insignificant flyspecks.
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