Review: North Atlantic Cod Filet Sandwich from Culver’s
With the lent in full swing, fish is the hot new item on every menu. Wendy’s has their Premium Fish Fillet Sandwich. Hardee’s/Carl’s Jr. have their new Charbroiled Atlantic Cod Fish Sandwich. Arby’s has the Reel Big Fillet. And of course there’s the ever-present McDonald’s Filet-O-Fish (after reading all these product names, I can’t help but wonder is it “filet” or “fillet”? Come on copy writers, let’s get together and figure this out).For its part, Culver’s has two fish items: the North Atlantic Cod Filet Sandwich and the Northwoods Walleye Sandwich. For the purposes of this review, we’ll be looking at the cod sandwich, the more standard and time-honored of the two. Culver’s has proved stellar at portraying their food as not quite as faux as all the other fast food places, just-this-side of quality home cooking. In this commercial about the North Atlantic Cod Filet Sandwich, Culver’s Co-Founder Craig Culver stands in a sunlit kitchen with a Swedish-looking man named Terje who is identified as a “Fifth Generation Fish Exporter.” As if this were a show on the Food Network, pieces of fresh cod are laid out on a wooden cutting board and Craig begins to hand-roll them in flour. As he works, Terje explains how they use only the part of the cod called the “cod loin” or “filet mignon of the cod,” which is the “thickest, flakiest part of the fish.” When the cod comes out of the fryer golden brown, Craig talks about how they dress it in a tartar sauce recipe that has been in their family for 40 years. This isn’t your typical “Hey, this sandwich is good. Why don’t you try it?” fast food commercial. By the time that big, golden sandwich flashes up on screen, it has become clear that Culver’s has made a bet with you, a bet that theirs is “the best fish sandwich in the business,” and perhaps even on par with restaurant-quality fish. Game on, Culver’s. Let’s see if the North Atlantic Cod Filet Sandwich can live up to the hype.After I picked up my sandwich from Culver’s ($5.25, a little pricey to me), the first thing that struck me when I opened the box was how small it was. I’m not sure what I was expecting, and the picture on Culver’s website and the picture I took of my sandwich don’t actually look that different, so maybe the way the sandwich filled the screen threw me off? I’m not sure. Either way, this sandwich wasn’t much bigger than your average fast food fish sandwich.
Here’s the Culver’s description:
Caught fresh in the icy North Atlantic, our cod is hand cut, hand battered and cooked to order. Topped with a Culver’s family recipe tartar sauce featuring olives, capers and sweet relish, crisp lettuce and Wisconsin cheddar. Served on a lightly buttered, toasted hoagie roll.
Beyond the fish filet, there wasn’t much adding to this sandwich. A smear of tartar, some soused green flecks trying to be lettuce and a few shreds of bright orange cheese glued together, half of which stuck to the bottom corner of the box when I took the sandwich out. The toppings weren’t much to look at, but the fish was a beautiful golden brown and this gave me hope. The smell was mostly a grease smell with an undertone of fishiness.Since 90% of the lenten fish fries I’ve been to in my life have tended to serve up bland, tasteless cod, I wasn’t expecting much out of the fish by itself. Usually I rely on condiments and condiments alone to get me through – mostly lemon and tartar sauce. There was no lemon with the Culver’s sandwich, but I was hoping the tartar sauce Craig Culver was so excited about would save the day. I took a bite…nothing. I took another bite…nothing. I took a third bite….maybe the sweet tinge of bread, but other than that, nothing. No taste. I could feel the flakiness of the fish, the grease filling my mouth, the hoagie bun tearing away in my teeth…but I could not taste it. Not the cheese, not the 40-year-old-recipe tartar sauce, not the fish. Just like at the lenten fish fries, the meal had no taste. Except this time there was no lemon to wantonly spritz all over my plate.I haven’t tried many fast food fish sandwiches so I’m not sure how Culver’s North Atlantic Cod Filet Sandwich compares to the rest, but I have to think it can’t be very high on the scale. Especially in light of that beyond-ebullient commercial, and for $5.25, this sandwich should have been a lot better. Game off, Culver’s, game off.
Pros: Soft, sweet hoagie bun. Good golden brown color on the fish.
Cons: No taste. At all.
Grubbing on-the-go: 3.50/10
Overall GrubGrade: 2.00/10
More Info: http://www.culvers.com/menu-and-nutrition/sandwiches-and-favorites/menu-item-details/north-atlantic-cod-filet-sandwich/
Calories - 663
Fat - 40g
Fiber - 1g
Carbs - 47g
Protein - 31g