It seems a lot of folks like their lunch all wrapped up.
As people keep watching their weight, wraps - sandwiches snuggled in a low-carb flour shell instead of two massive slabs of carb-overload bread - seem to have popped up on menus from fast-food to five-star restaurants. This month we wanted to see whose wraps our testers wanted to wrap their hands around.
Of the numerous entries we received by mail and e-mail of people interested in being wraps taste-testers, three were chosen. The testers were Jennifer Slauson, of Aiken, who works for Up Your Alley catering; Adam Ribock, of Augusta, an Aquinas High School senior; and Cecilia Mosher, of Augusta, who owns an Internet business selling Peruvian silver. After meeting at The Augusta Chronicle, we shuttled testers to four restaurants and treated them to lunch.
We made the rounds from noon to 3:30 p.m. on Jan. 27 and visited 1102 Bar and Grill, 1102 Broad St.; California Cafe, 202 Hudson Trace; Skyline Cafe, 3328 Washington Road; and Roly Poly Sandwiches, 3626 Walton Way Extension. Restaurants were selected at random.
1102 Bar and Grill
AMBIANCE: '80s music and diverse mix of diners.
FIRST IMPRESSIONS: Testers liked the look and atmosphere, but Mr. Ribock and Mrs. Mosher detected a musty, old building-type odor.
WHAT WE ATE: Chicken club wrap (with bacon, melted jack cheese, lettuce and tomato), grilled club wrap (with turkey, ham and a mix of cheeses) and fries.
THE VERDICT: Three thumbs up: All patrons were pleased with the wraps, raving over the taste of the bacon, and were impressed with how well the wraps were wrapped.
Mrs. Mosher said the chicken was "very flavorful."
For Mr. Ribock, the fries were over-seasoned, but the wraps were good, "especially the bacon," he said.
Ms. Slauson said the restaurant would be great place to get full because of the large portion sizes, and said she loved the seasoning on the fries.
AMBIANCE: Informal, casual. Mrs. Mosher likened it to a "fast-food restaurant, but nicer and with better menus."
FIRST IMPRESSIONS: Testers agreed it looked new, but did not like the unisex bathroom.
WHAT WE ATE: Hamburger wrap (with Angus beef, lettuce, tomato, onion, ketchup, mustard and mayonnaise), and a Caesar chicken in a tomato basil wrap (with lettuce, olives, parmesan and feta cheese and Caesar dressing).
THE VERDICT: Testers liked the menu selection, including being able to choose flavored wrap shells: flour, garlic herb, tomato basil or spinach. However, they were unhappy about waiting more than half an hour for their food and that cheese was added to the hamburger wrap. They also said wraps were too loosely wrapped.
Aside from the noncrisp lettuce, Mrs. Mosher and Ms. Slauson liked the chicken wrap; Mr. Ribock didn't like either, saying both had cold meat and "the burger one had way too much cheese; that's all I taste."
For Mrs. Mosher, the burger was a bit greasy, and Ms. Slauson said the beef's flavor was "over-powered" by the lettuce, mustard and mayonnaise.
AMBIANCE: Sky-blue interior, friendly. Order at the counter, then self-serve.
FIRST IMPRESSIONS: Mrs. Mosher liked the "theme of skylines of different cities," and Ms. Slauson liked the low-hanging lights.
WHAT WE ATE: Chicago Club (with ham, turkey, bacon, lettuce, tomato, onion, mustard, mayo and Swiss and cheddar cheeses), and the Five Points (with turkey, creamed spinach dip, lettuce, tomato and Swiss).
THE VERDICT: Testers again liked the menu selection and flavored wrap shells, this time flour, sun-dried tomato, spinach and whole wheat.
Mrs. Mosher raved over the Five Points, but it was "too creamy" for Ms. Slauson. The Chicago didn't score well with the testers, who did not like the taste of the bacon. While Mr. Ribock said the wraps "didn't make me want to come back," Mrs. Mosher said she'd return for the Five Points; Ms. Slauson said she'd return to try other items.
Roly Poly Sandwiches
AMBIANCE: Fast-food look. Order at counter, then self-serve.
FIRST IMPRESSIONS: Mr. Ribock noted a similar theme with this place and the previous two: "real simple - get in, get out." Quiet inside was a plus for Ms. Slauson.
WHAT WE ATE: Spinach salad wrap (with swiss cheese, mushrooms, sun-dried tomatoes, avocado, spinach and honey mustard), smokehouse turkey wrap (with turkey, jack cheese, bacon, scallions, honey mustard, lettuce and tomato), steak fajita wrap (with sliced steak, melted cheddar, onion, green peppers, tomato and fajita sauce on a grilled flour wrap with a side of salsa).
THE VERDICT: Three thumbs up, again. Testers were impressed with the menu of more than 50 hot, cold, vegetarian, meat and seafood wraps, plus a create-your-own section with dressings, spreads, fruit and nut toppings. Tasters also were impressed that wraps came in 6-inch halves or 12-inch wholes.
Mrs. Mosher liked her spinach wrap, but not the honey mustard. However, for Mr. Ribock, the honey mustard was spicy but good on his smokehouse turkey wrap, which he said tasted "good, except the wrap was too floury."
Ms. Slauson's steak fajita wrap was "wrapped fairly neatly" and "had a good flavor."
"The peppers, onions and tomatoes were all fresh, and the cheese and sauce were better than I expected," she said.
Reach C. Samantha McKevie at (706) 823-3552 or firstname.lastname@example.org.