I was surprised and pleased to learn in another thread
that Big Bowl has made a new commitment to sourcing local ingredients. With a quick look at the restaurant’s website, I found a letter from the head chef which really sounded like a genuine commitment rather than marketing hype. I’m sad to report that I’ve been seriously duped.
After wading through the huge lunch crowd entering the Big Bowl on Ohio Street, one can’t help but notice the large chalkboard:
“The Right Stuff
Big Bowl is committed to using fresh, naturally raised meat, seafood, and produce from local producers.
In House Today
Naturally Raised Freebird(tm) Chicken, Fredericksburg, PA
Fresh Sea Scallops, New Bedford, MA
Michigan Asparagus, Mick Klug Farms
When I asked a manager why 2/3 of the goods listed on a board claiming to be about local producers were from afar, he said “Yeah, I don’t understand it either.” The truth is that the only local food item on the Big Bowl menu is the asparagus. Asparagus is also the only local product in the produce section at Dominick’s, by the way.
I ordered chicken with seasonal vegetables, described on the menu as “chicken sautéed with seasonal, local produce (ask your server)”. My server explained that the produce was asparagus, and the dish was served in a “flavorful brown sauce.” It’s hard to describe how bad this dish was. Boneless, skinless, and utterly flavorless chicken, a few pieces of asparagus (local, perhaps, but devoid of any asparagus taste), some button mushrooms and a whole load of sliced red bell peppers. All swimming in about a gallon of truly disgusting sweet soy sauce thickened with corn starch, and containing a very unpleasant, greasy mouth feel. To better balance the cloying sweetness, perhaps this dish could have used some of the sour taste left by the meal's $16 price tag.
...defended from strong temptations to social ambition by a still stronger taste for tripe and onions." Screwtape in The Screwtape Letters
by CS LewisFuckerberg on Food