(Guest post by The Boyfriend)
Julie has been nagging asking me all summer to do a review of Wicked-wich, the sandwich shop that opened a few months back on Sycamore, between 4th and 5th Streets. Wicked-wich gears itself almost exclusively toward downtown’s workday breakfast and lunch business, and is open only from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m., Monday through Friday. Since Julie works in Mason and is rarely downtown on weekdays, she has had trouble scheduling a visit. I, on the other hand, am a Man of Leisure for most of the summer and, therefore, am available for pinch-hitting duties.
It’s not that I didn’t want to visit Wicked-wich. I’m always up for trying new places around town. I live for it, in fact. And word of mouth has it that the food is pretty good.
The problem is that from our place in Over-the-Rhine, Wicked-wich is an awkward trip. At twenty-four blocks or so for a round trip, it’s too far to walk…at least on a 90-plus-degree day when the humidity is high (and this is an apt description for an awful lot of days so far this summer). But it’s too close to bother with driving, given that parking in that section of downtown is a headache on both crack and steroids. And, as a matter of general principle, I won’t pay to park in a garage for just long enough to have lunch. Call me thrifty. Call me cheap. Call me a miserly tightwad. As long as you call me for lunch, you can call me pretty much whatever you like.
So what’s it going to be? Schlepping all that way on foot and in the heat, prompting a second shower and change of clothes back at home? Or driving there and fighting to park, only to end up parking in the sun, several blocks away from the restaurant and prompting a second shower and change of clothes back at home? I flipped a coin, and the driving option won (though it took three flips of the coin for that to happen).
As I approached the restaurant, I found a metered spot no more than thirty feet from the door. The meter had twenty minutes of time left on it.
(Aside: My life is nothing if not a testament to [a] clean living and [b] the power of positive thinking.)
I arrived around 11:15, so the lunch crowd had yet to arrive. After eyeballing the extensive menu for a good five minutes, I decided on the wicked reuben: house cured corned beef, Swiss cheese, sauerkraut, and Russian dressing on butter-toasted salt rye.
The sandwich was OK, though not much more than that. The amply piled meat had a fine flavor, but was actually dry. This surprised me because the covenant printed on the take-out menu brags about moist, tender, and flavorful meats that are the result of the restaurant’s daily slow roasting of its own meats in pressure-sealed ovens and sliced fresh at the time of the order. The meat also had an unusual texture: it had a ribbon-like cut, almost as if it had been run through a paper shredder after slicing. The kraut and Russian dressing were a major help to the final product. For this particular menu item, I would probably opt to walk the two blocks or so around the corner to Izzy’s.
For the side item (included in the price of the sandwich), I choose the pecan cranberry slaw. This was the find of the day. Delicious. I love dishes that have contrasting flavors and textures. The pecans (toasted, I think) supplied crunchiness while dried cranberries provided chewiness. The combination of other ingredients was decidedly sweet, but balanced with the tangy-ness of the cranberries. I bet that a generous serving of this slaw, topped with a grilled chicken breast would be a fine meal unto itself.
Add a soda to the order, and the final bill was just shy of nine dollars…well within what I would think of the normal price range for downtown Cincinnati.
There were several menu items that I would try on future visits: the meat loaf sandwich, curried egg salad, and edamame wheatberry salad, just to name three. In addition to sandwiches, the menu includes a wide array of soups, salads, and desserts.
As I left, noon was approaching, along with a veritable stampede of customers. Well within walking distance of many downtown offices (including P&G), Wicked-wich seems to have carved out a real niche for itself in a fairly short time.
I decided to return the very next day and try the breakfast menu.
(Aside #2: The Parking Gods were not so kind for this trip. Wish I’d walked.)
A fool for anything with or inside a crust, I opted for the morning puff: puff pastry, stuffed with broccoli, portabella mushrooms, scrambled eggs, and cheddar cheese. Though it lacked the delicate crunchiness I look for in puff pastry and croissants, the dish was quite tasty. The meatiness of the mushrooms made the dish really hearty and filling.
Just for kicks, I ordered a Sycamore Street sandwich to go. This item consists of turkey sausage patties, bacon, green onions, and cream cheese on a baguette. Back at home, I tried a couple of bites and saved the rest for a late lunch. The sausage was fairly hot (not mentioned on the menu), but not overbearing. Again, a pretty good choice.
Wicked-wich also offers online, phone, and fax ordering, free delivery (within a fairly limited area, I suspect), and an upstairs space available for breakfast meetings.