One of the worst parts about working on the Central Avenue corridor â€“ besides the horrific construction of the Light Rail Project â€“ is the lack of quality restaurants within a quick walk or five-minute drive from the office. There are some great restaurants, to be sure, but I canâ€™t afford to eat lunch at Durantâ€™s every day and I really am trying to avoid another meal at Jack in the Box or The Good Egg.
Because of this lack of selection, I was more than pleased to hear that the Central Avenue corridor would have a new place to try. In what use to be an old bagel shop, Switch opened to great fanfare and hopes from the Central Avenue workers that this would be a new option that didnâ€™t involve a dollar menu.
Oddly, my first encounter with Switch was during a day off when J. was in town for a visit and planning of our upcoming vacation in December. We couldnâ€™t decide where to eat, so I suggested Switch and J. was quick to give consent. We set off from Arcadia and found ourselves blissfully happy that we took 3rd Street to Virginia and found the parking lot that way instead of trying to endure the construction.
After parking the car, we meandered through the back entrance that took us past a fairly large patio with plenty of tables and chairs. The entrance took us right to a hosting station and we were told to take a seat at any open table. J. opted for a table/booth combination and we sat down being greeted by a server who took our drink order. I had a Diet Coke ($1.95) while J. had an Iced Tea ($1.95).
We took our time reviewing the menu that included a variety of sandwiches and salads. After some discussion, we had decided to split an appetizer and then get two entrees. When our server returned with our drinks we were set to order. We split the Euro Fruit and Cheese Board ($8.50) and then I ordered the Country Club Turkey Panini ($8.95) while J. got the Eastport Lobster Roll ($8.95). Both of our sandwiches came with a side Caesar Salad. I was also intrigued with the Roasted Garlic Corn ($1.50) and had that as an additional side.
After discussing some preliminary plans for our December vacation, I told J. a bit about how they did a nice job of refitting the interior of an old bagel store. We both liked the clubby feel to the place with its dark interior and comfortable seats. The flat screen TVs were an interesting addition, but I felt they were more of a distraction than an attribute. It was, though, a nice respite from the bright sunshine and warmth outside.
We had only been waiting about 10 minutes when your Euro Fruit and Cheese Board arrived. The large plate was overflowing with plenty of items including strawberries, blueberries, slices of toasted multi-grain bread, olives, roasted almonds, apples, and grapes. What was clear was that the cheese took a back seat with a few slices each of Gouda, Provolone, Cheddar, Swiss and a small serving of feta. Everything was fresh and delicious, but I found the term “Euro” to be more theoretical and conceptual than what was presented as the finished product. The cheese, while good in its own right, was pretty standard issue. There was nothing earth-shattering about Cheddar, Swiss, or Gouda cheese. We did enjoy it, however, and fruit was exceptionally fresh.
When our entrees arrived, J. dove into the Eastport Lobster Roll. The large rustic Kaiser-like roll was stuffed with a lobster and seafood salad and topped with roasted garlic corn, red onions, tomatoes and radish sprouts. J. took a bite and I asked for some first thoughts. “Kind of bland, to be honest,” J. said. What was missing from the filling was anything resembling seasoning. J. thought there might be a smattering of Old Bay seasoning, but it was not in every bite and was exceptionally subtle. J. liked the selection of toppings for the roll, but felt the entire sandwich would have been outstanding if there had been a heavier hand with the spices in the kitchen.
My Country Club Turkey Panini looked quite good with its abundance of turkey, bacon and Cheddar cheese. However, I could see before even taking a bite the panini had not been properly cooked. And I was correct. The outside of the grilled bread was blazing hot, but the interior was room temperature. Even the cheese had failed to melt. I guessed the panini grill was set at too high a temperature so that the bread cooked well before the filling had a chance to heat and meld together. I took a bite and the turkey, bacon and cheddar were quite good, but, like J.’s lobster roll, there was no seasoning. Although the menu promised mustard on the sandwich, it was scant and added very little to the sandwich in terms of flavor. Again, what I had was good, but it needed to be something more than just a plain turkey bacon sandwich with cheese.
Both out sandwiches arrived with a small Caesar Salad on the side. The Romaine lettuce was crisp and fresh and the Caesar dressing was tangy and rich in flavor, but we craved a sprinkle of cheese or some croutons to make the salad stand out. J. remarked that just a Caesar-type dressing doesn’t make the salad a Caesar salad. Indeed.
My other side dish was the Roasted Garlic Corn. The kernels of corn were bright yellow and I thought the aroma was promising. All in all, the corn was a good choice, but I didn’t understand the lack of salt and only a hint of garlic. I had hoped for a bolder flavor, but I did think the freshness and buttery edge to the corn really kept it in play.
We finished our meals and I requested the check, which was $32.76 with tax. Our service was friendly and engaging. We had no complaints on that front.
As we headed back to the parking lot, J. and I came to the conclusion that we liked Switch, but we wanted the kitchen to go further than it did. It felt like Switch was playing it safe; almost too safe. I can understand the desire to not offend, but taking that to the extreme means boredom for others. There was enough on the menu to encourage me to go back (and I am next week for a luncheon with one of the executives in my office). I want Switch to succeed. It has great potential and the location is fantastic for us Central Avenue work-a-day denizen. However, I hope Switch will just take one step further in perking up the food.
If they will do that, they will be a very fine addition to the corridor.
2603 North Central Avenue
Phoenix, AZ 85004
Hours: Sunday through Saturday – 8 AM to 11 PM
Alcohol: Liquor License Pending
Notes: Enter off of Virginia. They share a parking lot with Durant’s.