Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Food Fight: Fish Sandwich Smackdown

Posted By on Tue, Jul 14, 2009 at 6:32 AM

click to enlarge Miro District's Market Fish Sandwich
  • Miro District's Market Fish Sandwich

In one corner, Miro District Food & Drink's market fish sandwich ($12). In the other, 1808 Grille's Flaked Char Panino ($10.50). In a metaphor that's about to relocate from the boxing ring to the high seas faster than Mike Tyson can KO a killer whale, which fish sandwich is the Big Kahuna? First, a look at the details.

1808: A selection from 1808's so-called Panini Parlor, the flaked char comes with nearly unlimited flexibility, including a choice of bread, cheese, topping and spread. (Yes, cheese can be replaced with one of the other toppings.) We combined the char with fresh cucumbers, caramelized onions and chimichurri on soft ciabatta. Comes with a twee basket of thin-cut garlic fries.

Miro: Made with the market-fresh seafood of the day and homemade bread, the sandwich might be anything from cod to soft shell crab on a bread ranging from focaccia to onion bun. Accoutrements vary, too, but are consistently intriguing, including such accents as herb aioli, arugula, fried onion threads and crunchy strings of celery root slaw. Comes with decadent homemade chips.

The Pros:

1808: The price is right and the build-your-own concept is fun, though you can screw this up if you're not careful (see Cons below). Lightly cooked fish, with a poached texture, is a healthy platform for the meal.

Miro: The semolina-dusted fried seafood is consistently exquisite, focaccia is soft enough to bite without mashing the fish, cool accents are intriguing and creative--especially juxtaposed against the piping-hot fish.

The Cons:

1808: Cucumbers were a bad idea, because they were added prior to the sandwich's being pressed in the iron. Furthermore, the chimichurri was MIA, and when we asked for a ramekin of the herb-infused oil, it turned out to be a pale, leafless concoction with a precipitate of what appeared to be minced shallots. Consequently, the sandwich was a monochromatic pile-on of beige-pink--slightly mushy--fish and brown onions, whose coloring was accented only by the soggy warm cucumbers, which we removed anyway.

Miro: On occasion, the fish sandwich has arrived on bread so crusty that it required a strong gnashing to bite through, which in turn squeezed the tender fish out the sides.

The Verdict:

Even if we handicap the sandwiches to account for pricing, Miro's sandwich--with its well-balanced medley of colors, textures and temperatures--swims circles around 1808's panino. When ordering from the Panini Parlor--an affordable and amusing lunch option--best to stick with roasted chicken, vegetables or another filling.

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