Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Something's Fishy

Place: Culver's Frozen Custard & ButterBurgers
Lunch: Northwoods Walleye sandwich, cheese curds, Culver's Root Beer


Misha: "I just wanted to send out an email about lunches today to make sure we are ok from noon to 1."

Me: "Okay, but I'm not having fish."

Misha: "Neither am I.  Unless I get McDonalds...sometimes I crave those fish sandwiches."

Me: "Aw crap.  It’s Ash Wednesday.  I was going to do a blog about fish sandwiches.  I WILL have fish!"

And so I did.

You know it's Lenten season when Culver's offers up their awesome Northwoods Walleye sandwich.  This is why you go to Culvers.  Actually, I don't think I've been to Culver's once since last year's Lenten season.

Lent is...I don't know...some religious thing.  (Don't bother explaining it...I don't care.  I read the Wikipedia entry on it and it gave me a headache.)  Something to do with fasting up to Easter, which over the centuries has turned into a period where meat is given up on Fridays in favor of fast food fish sandwich specials.  Oh the sacrifices we make in the name of faith.

So the upshot of Lent is all the chains who don't have a fish sandwich roll one out for a few weeks...and the ones that do put them on sale.

Most of them follow the same formula...A square breaded piece of mystery white fish (often cod or pollock) with lettuce and tartar sauce.  Burger King, Whataburger, Wendy's, Arby's, and Hardee's/Carl's Jr all follow this pattern.  Whataburger's is my favorite of those.

Let's see, what else...

McDonald's - The venerable Filet-o-Fish almost didn't happen.  Ray Kroc's solution to Lent was a Hulaburger...a burger with a slice of pineapple instead of a burger patty.  But the Filet-o-Fish outsold it in tests, so there you go.  It's one of the skimpiest overpriced fish sandwiches out there.  A regular bun, a square breaded fish patty, tartar sauce and a HALF slice of cheese.  Ray Kroc himself made that call based on taste.  And I just love the damn thing.  They replaced it once during their doomed "Arch Deluxe" phase.  It was New Coke all over again.  Last year, McDonald's rolled out a DOUBLE Filet-o-Fish.  Which was more expensive than the sale they had on two single Filet-o-Fishies.  Huh.

Burger King - The BK Big Fish has been complimented by a BK Big Fish with a Cilantro Lime sauce.  It's...okay. Kind of missing something.

Culver's - The mysterious and wonderful Northwoods Walleye sandwich is a seasonal event for fish lovers.  A stronger taste all its own.  If they put this on the menu all year, I might eat there more.  Okay, probably not.  Too chicken to try walleye?  They also have cod.  And shrimp.  Eat those instead, and feel shame.

Arctic Circle - This is where you go for a halibut sandwich.  All year, by the way.  It's not just seasonal.

Burgerville - The little chain of my hometown also has halibut.  And sole.  And a smoked salmon salad.  And three vegetarian burgers.  Freaking hippies.

Wienerschnitzel - The Sea Dog.  A hot dog processed out of fish?  Shark meat?  Captain Ahab's liver?  Well, no.  It's kind of an over-sized fish stick in a hot dog bun with lettuce and tartar sauce.  It's actually perfectly decent.

Freddy's - Freddy's fish sandwich is topped in the same dressing they use on their California Style burger.  Tartar sauce? We don't need no stinking tartar sauce!  I haven't tried it yet, so I haven't decided if I agree or not.

Del Taco - SHRIMP TACOS!  Score!

Taco Bell - Yeah, nothing really.  Here...have some beans.  My sacrifice to God was a steady diet of TRIPLE LAYER NACHOS.

(EDIT: Taco Bell HAS actually added something called Pacific Shrimp Tacos this year.  First time in two decades Taco Bell has put a seafood item on their menu.)

White Castle - A fish slider?  Sure.  Why not.

Then you've got all the fast food fish places like Long John Silver's and Captain D's doing their usual thing with a little more promotion, I suppose.  Oh...have you tried LJS's new breaded fish?  I like it better than their battered fish.

Anyway, you have little excuse to be sick of fried fish by Easter.  But soon after, we should start seeing fresh halibut and wild salmon.  A little Penzy's Northwoods seasoning, a little oil coating...

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Food Court Fried

Place: Taco Bell
Lunch: Combo burrito, triple layer nachos, Pepsi

I'm sitting in a mall food court staring at the space that is going to become "Ocean Beach Fries".  There's a guy standing at the counter looking like he's waiting for somebody who's not coming.

Ocean Beach Fries was a full-service bar and grill in a huge themed space that was previously called Kahunaville.  The Kahunaville people put all the money into the restaurant space (which was originally a two-screen theater) .  Then they went out of business and some guy went in with Ocean Beach Fries.  I ate there once.  The service was lousy.  The food was nothing special...I'm pretty sure the fish was the same Trident breaded halibut you can buy at Costco.

Anyway, they took the letters off the Ocean Beach Fries entrance and tacked them up in the food court slot.  The Ocean Beach Fries video arcade (also formerly the Kahunaville arcade) is still intact.  Every mall needs one, I suppose.

I guess they'll have burgers and chili dogs too, which should thrill the neighboring Maid-Rite.

I had a nasty cold last week, which I'm still recovering from.  Lots of coughing, feel week, etc.  Which probably explains why I can't remember what it is I came to the mall for.  I only come here for lunch if I have some shopping to do, and that was the case today.  

But I can't remember what I came here for now.