Tag Archives: boston

Jacob Wirth: Ich Bin Ein Ber-Nacho

6 Apr

Consider this: has there ever been an opportunity as wasted as Jacob Wirth Restaurant’s nachos?

Jacob Wirth resides in the heart of the Theatre District, which isn’t known for having good nachos or for being a generally pleasant place at all. They serve German-ish food, and if it’s a more American dish, they may throw in a spare spaetzle (please see “Quality of Ingredients” for a further discussion of this phenomenon) to liven things up, or confuse you terribly.

Our primary complaint with Jacob Wirth–besides the fact that most of our food was bad, our service not very good, and the beer wildly overpriced–is that they have all the ingredients to make creative and delicious nachos, yet they chose to offend our culinary senses by serving up an abominable (yes, abominable) substitute. Were this plate to fall out of a vending machine at The Tam, we would not lift an eyebrow. They’ve failed at being a German restaurant by offering American-style nachos, and accordingly, those nachos have failed to be edible. There is a vast world of opportunities lying in wait in the Jacob Wirth kitchen (beer cheese sauce? sausage? cabbage? spaetzle chips? bah!), and it is frustrating that they give us something so unpalatably average.

The vitriol is leaking from the spent fuel storage of our hearts. Let’s just do the numbers and get it over with:

  • Appearance: (4) Wan and sad looking, we knew we were in trouble when we saw the burnt, multi-colored chips (tinted with industrial grade food dye, rather than real blue corn) and the sparse coating of unmelted cheese. While we appreciated the annexing of the sour cream to the plastic cup, the guac was grayish and unappealing. The black beans stood out and felt totally unnecessary, especially since they added nothing to the overall taste. Even the black olives were off.  We liked the brightness of the red peppers–a happy change from the typical jalapeno.
  • Quality of Ingredients: (3) Giving these a three was difficult, but since they at least weren’t made of broken glass and rusty nails, we felt obligated to throw in at least a few gratuity points. Let’s start with the chips, which, like the guac/salsa/chili/cheese/beans, provided more texture than flavor. Proper seasoning would have improved everything: the guac was overly lemony and needed a salty kick and the salsa was basically marinara sauce. The chili was a steaming pot of crazy. Though we didn’t mind the flavor (subtle, not a normal spicy, chili-ey, chili), we found no fewer than three things that didn’t belong:
    • A carrot: what is this, ShittySide?
    • White beans: yum, but wtf?
    • A spaetzle or two: was it an accident, a lone spaetzle careening into the nacho abyss, or was it a deliberate act by a chef desperate to infuse a little Deutschland into his dud? Whatever the reason, it weirded us out. Just when you think you’re biting into a hunk of melted cheese…
  • Distribution of Toppings: (4.6) Not enough toppings–a mess of bad chips without a pillow of cheese to smother them. We’re thankful the guac and salsa was separated, as both were so terrible.
  • Price: (7) $10.25 for the whole sha-bang. We wondered if our Groupon usage on this particular evening could have affected our meal. Could it be that they took half off not only our bill, but also the quality of our food? We’ve read that businesses who use Groupons very rarely see the deals result in repeat customers. Our experience at Jacob Wirth leads us to believe that it isn’t the lack of a coupon that prevents people from returning–it’s in fact because the food is just not that good.
  • Overall: (18.6/40)

As a side note, the pretzels were fine. Here’s a picture of a grease stain:

The Cheesecake Factory: Everything cheesy, except for the chips

2 Oct

Unless you’ve been living in Montana or under a rock for the past 20 years, you’ve probably been to a Cheesecake Factory. Popularized by an American middle class that thinks chain restaurants, gaudy decor, and overpriced food is a great way to spend a night on the town, The Cheesecake Factory embraces a fairly simply business plan: if you put an endless assortment of items from varying cultural backgrounds on the menu, you’re probably going to please about 88% of people (vegans/people allergic Egyptian style columns and gold-leaf excluded). If you’ve been, you’ve no doubt spent at least half an hour reading the Homeric menu, only to be disappointed by flavors that clearly show an overstretched palate. As their website plainly touts, the Cheesecake Factory is an experience, and when it comes to the nachos, a predictably average one.

  • Appearance: (7.5) Smaller than we expected given their famously large serving sizes, but generally not terrible looking. They were a little burnt and dull, though the rainbow of guac, salsa, and sour cream added a nice pop.
  • Quality of toppings:  (9) At first we were dubious. We’ve had our fair share of bland entrees at the Cheesecake Factory, but these nachos actually had some really great flavor. The chicken was moist and peppery. The chips were thick and substantial (like Border!). The guac was refreshingly simple.
  • Distribution of toppings: (6) Fairly “unilayeral” (Oxford English Dictionary, you can have that one for free), but unbalanced by swatches of hard cheddar stuck to a few chips and the plate. The majority of the toppings ended up on a scant minority of chips, leaving us with two or three behemoths flanked by a dull, dry desert.
  • Price: (7) Some places you expect to pay a lot (case in point, Disney World). Sadly, Cheesecake Factory is one of those places. Portions here are large, and if you don’t go home with a doggy bag, you’ve most certainly over-indulged. The nachos, however, were sadly average. Good flavors, decent textures, but nothing fantastic and rather undeserving of the $11.72 price tag.
  • Overall: 29.5/40

We don’t want to disparage the Cheesecake Factory; they offer free drink refills, the staff is polite and friendly, it’s a great place for groups, the menu is big enough to keep everyone satisfied, and–most importantly–their NASDAQ stock symbol is “CAKE” (we like cake). But when you live in a city like Boston with so many great local restaurants, it’s almost embarrassing to eat at an overpriced chain. That said, it’s only a matter of time before we return…Except then, we might avoid the nachos and stick to what they do best (hint: meatloaf and bottomless lemonade).

Moving Day

22 Jul

As our loyal fans know, Nacho Patrol World Headquarters is on the move. After two years slumming it in Brookline, we’re packing up the corn chips, sweeping away the old cheese, cleaning out the chili crock pot, and making our way across the river to the scenic Somerville/Cambridge border. What our new home lacks in yard space, it makes up for in pure colonial charm, and we cannot wait to see how it fairs during the first of many Nachopalooza events (block party?), tentatively planned for September 2010.

Though we are in no way shutting the door on our current neighborhood, we’re hoping over the next few weeks to visit a few of those restaurants we’ve unforgivably neglected, and we need your help to make sure we’re not missing anyone. As mentioned on our Master Nacho List, here are the places we’re already planning to hit up:

  • Game On! (Fenway) – coming very soon
  • Harry’s Bar and Grill (Allston/Brighton) – Re-Review
  • Porter Belly’s (Brighton)
  • Corrib Pub (Brighton) – coming very very soon
  • 973 Commonwealth (BU)
  • Center St. Cafe (JP)

And that’s where you come in…While we may consider ourselves experts of Boston geography, we have a few blind spots when it comes to the southern neighborhoods. If you’ve got any noteworthy nacho noshing spots you want us to review before we make our way north, please get in touch with us via Twitter, Facebook, a comment below, or at our email (nachopatrol@gmail.com).

We welcome all suggestions, especially outlandish ones.