Review: Switch - Phoenix (w/ photos!)
One of the worst parts about working on the Central Avenue corridor – besides the horrific construction of the Light Rail Project – 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 can’t afford to eat lunch at Durant’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 didn’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 couldn’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.
Additional photos can be found at www.feastinginphoenix.com
2603 N Central Ave, Phoenix, AZ 85004
I agree with you, Seth. They need to take it up a notch in a few areas. I have been there twice for breakfast and the issues I had related to both the food and the execution of things.
The first visit, I ordered a large latte and it was served in a tall paper cup as if I was ordering it to go. The second visit, my "large" latte was served in a small teacup/coffee mug that regular coffee was being served in...how odd! For food I had the French toast the first time, and it was so-so. The second time I ordered the croissant with ham & cheese expecting a warm breakfast sandwich. What I got was a cold croissant with some slices of swiss cheese on one side and a pile of cold ham lunchmeat on the other. Also, on both visits the wait staff was unpolished and confused, but in their favor, they were very friendly. I am pretty surprised by all of this since the owners are behind two other successful establishments.
When I read your review and your take on the Caesar, I immediately thought of the pesto-
Caesar with pistachios at Fez. Why hasn't the same kind of innovative thinking made it to Switch? My final gripe is that for a place that is called a "Bakery & Restaurant" they sure don't have very many baked goods on the menu. Where are the muffins and breads?
Despite my complaints, I still think that they will hit their stride. Hopefully it will be sooner rather than later.
Another spot on review. I have been to switch once and thought it a good option in my lunch radius. One can only hope that the folks running Switch know about CH and will take your comments (and those of other posters) to heart. Cause like you and others have said - I really want them to succeed!
Nice review. I too am glad that Switch has moved into that spot and am hopeful for the future but so far have been disapointed. Have been twice and was not especially impressed either time. Nothing bad but nothing great either. One thing that was really disapointing was the bread. I would really like to see a place like this use one of the great local bakeries (Simply Bread, Willow etc.) but instead they use La Brea which is, in my opinion, not very good. May seem minor but for me bread is a big issue and with so many good local options I would like to see Switch switch.
i was at ticoz twice in the last 3 months. ticoz is fine for happy hour, but sitting down in the dining room is a disappointment, for food and service. sadly both visits were for dinner ;) i have friends who love that place so when they pick, its ticoz for dinner.
fez is great for drinks. but the food? yipes!! i was there about 6 months ago. happy hour? ok. food? not so much
I too have friends who pick these places as dinner destinations. I was underwhelmed by the food at Fez (expectations might have been too high) and have been straight up disappointed in nearly everything I've had at TiCoz (even with downwardly adjusted expectations).
Both places have dishes that sound good in theory, but IMO suffer primarily from the use of cheap ingredients. Also, the service I've received has ranged from unprofessional to merely adequate.
Like you, I now think of them only as places maybe to get drinks.
Wow! I'm am really bummed to read your responses. How crazy that experiences can be so varied. I guess I should consider myself lucky! I do tend to stick to the same dishes once I find something I like, so perhaps that is the secret behind me having more favorable experiences. At Fez I order either the Pesto-Caesar with chicken or the Tangier Burger. At Ticoz I stick to the House Enchiladas. The last time we went to Ticoz, we were informally celebrating the engagement of my sister-in-law (just me, hubby, sis-in-law, and her newly betrothed). I called ahead to see if we could make a reservation and have a bottle of champagne chilled and ready at the table. I was told that they don't do reservations but they would put me in their "no-rez" book (first time I ever experienced this kind of approach). When we arrived, there was a table set aside for us with champagne waiting. The waiter had been briefed about our celebration previously and upon greeting us, offered congratulations. My only complaint is that they still serve those horrible tostitos-type chips.
I hope they can get some consistency going at all their locations!
I agree Seth, good review.
Switch is still working some of it's newbie kinks out.
The food is good, but generally hit-and-miss in my opinion. Not some good and some bad, but rather some really good, and some just okay. So, nothing truly inedible. The menu is also fairly ambitious in terms of variety of menu options, which of course, is not necessarily always a good thing.
I've now tried nearly everything, from breakfast to lunch, and the menu generally reads like a dream, but again, the actual food doesn't seem to quite deliver the same punch you'd expect. Value-wise though, it's definitely a bargain - you get a good bang for your few bucks spent. And I must emphasize, however, still better than the majority of other restaurants in the immediate area - it could be just a little better.
I will still continue to frequent (and recommend) Switch a lot. I happen to work and spend large amounts of time in the area, and it's become a worthy lunchtime stop ...