The dish: Chicken Wrap Deluxe, $8.95 at Crush Cafe
Did they really grill this chicken?
It had the yielding tenderness of rotisserie white meat. Rather than masking a poorly rendered main ingredient with competing tastes from lettuce, tomato and bacon, the kitchen seemed intent on making sure the whole was the sum of great parts.
Swiss cheese played far off in the background. Romaine and tantalizing tomato strips struck a nice balance. In fact they were essential foils to the hearty sugar maple bacon that imparted too much sweetness to the vinaigrette.
If Crush pulled back on one element with this sandwich, it should be the sugar. But there was also a peppery heat at work, adding a strong savory complement. The supple honey wheat wrap also compensated for the sweetness.
Why don't more shops produce this level of quality, invention and care?
Too many places inure us to lower-tier quality and ho-hum execution. Here, with not one item quite touching the $10 threshold, you get taste that could easily command a higher dollar.
Crush Cafe occupies a corner of Courthouse Tower at 210 W. Pennsylvania Ave., in a part of Towson chuck full of potential patrons.
The unadorned dining room offers a decent place to grab lunch with a co-worker or go solo with a book. The service was friendly and efficient. The wait for an exceptional made-to-order wrap was around 10 minutes.
Crush Cafe might have opted to survive serving second-rate lunches to workers willing to settle for a middling mid-day meal that's close to hand.
Diners familiar with Crush at Belvedere Square will not be surprised to find that instead, the cafe offers a menu well worth a longer walk.
One suspects Crush has made a statement with this cafe. Let's hope it keeps talking.
Where: 210 W. Pennsylvania Ave, Towson.
Contact: 410-825-3040, crush-restaurant.com/crush-cafe
Lunch hours: 7:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m. Monday-Friday
Lunch entrees: $7.95-$8.95