Inspired by a Parisian Cafe and named after the Mozart opera Cosi Fan Tutte, this Chicago-based chain's slogan says that “life should be delicious.”
Agreed. So while we're not fans of chain restaurants, we hoped for a delicious meal at on Washington Street earlier this week.
Morristown's Cosi sits around the corner from the courthouse. If that block didn't have enough options–, the and most recently –Cosi will soon have new competition:
The interior of Cosi is filled with bold, warm colors, the ones said to induce appetite. Reds, oranges and browns are set against pale yellow walls. Massive ductwork hangs overhead, along with an eclectic array of lighting, from giant fixtures with incandescent bulbs to halogen-like track lighting. This tables and chairs have a clean, modern look, with the exception of the vinyl-covered bench seating with duct tape covering some large tears.
In the same vein as Panera, Atlanta Bread Company and New Jersey's own , the menu at Cosi includes soups, salads, sandwiches and even flatbread pizzas, as well as a selection of breakfast wraps. The sandwiches and melts–from chicken tinga to steakhouse gorgonzola melt–are served with a choice of chips or baby carrots. Ads throughout the store promote Cosi's “flavors of the world” Cubano melt: sliced ham, pulled pork, housemade pickles, banana peppers, melted swiss and honey mustard.
In recent weeks, this column has sampled , and . Cosi may be centered around an oven, but after weeks of writing about heavy, carb-filled food in the heat of summer, this week we'll talk about something more appropriate for the season: Cobb salad.
With grilled chicken, strips of bacon, crumbled blue cheese, sliced hard boiled egg, this salad was invented at Hollywood's Brown Derby restaurant in the 1930s. A well-made Cobb can be a filling, flavorful meal, and it happens to be my favorite salad.
On the Cosi menu, the Cobb had a tiny logo next to it that I mistakenly thought signified a more health-conscious meal. Like most people, I'm a little more conscious of what I eat in the summer, and so I chose the Cobb, along with a cup of double-brewed unsweetened iced tea.
The Cobb starts with a bowl of fresh, crisp and colorful baby greens (the original Cobb was only Romaine, but we were happy to see the variety of greens here). Tiny diced tomatoes and scallions were almost too small to appreciate or even notice their flavor, and some of the tomatoes looked pinkishly under-ripe. The small pieces of chicken, too, contributed little flavor, but they add some lean, filling protein to the salad. Alas, this salad did not include hard boiled egg, which would have added to the protein count.
The gorgonzola cheese, on the other hand, added a good, sharp bite to the salad. And lastly, the bacon, which probably was not cooked to order, nonetheless offered a smoky taste that permeated almost every bite. All of these flavors were brought together with a good, somewhat sweet sherry shallot dressing.
This salad probably bears little resemblance to the ones served at the Brown Derby. But it was nonetheless enjoyable. As long as the greens are fresh, it's difficult to go wrong with bacon and gorgonzola.
All salads come with a side of the bread that Cosi is known for, a bread based on a 2,000-year-old recipe, according to the restaurant. I chose multigrain over white and was disappointed. Some seeds offered a little crunch and flavor, and a light dusting of flour on the outside served as a sign this was in fact made in-house. But overall, the flavor was bland and the texture chewy, bordering on rubbery. A good, multigrain bread should be nutty, rustic and even a little sweet.
Still, I treated the bread like Ethiopian injira, taking small pieces and using it to pick up the last ingredients of my salad. This made the bread much more enjoyable, as the sharp flavors of the bacon and blue cheese, as well as the sherry shallot dressing, gave it some flavor.
Curious to see how healthy this meal was, I found the nutrition information online: 713 calories, 55 grams of fat (!) and 39 grams of protein, along with most of the vitamin A and vitamin C needed for the day. Not bad, but not a healthy option either. Apparently that little logo meant that the Cobb salad could be made with a lighter dressing, reducing the total to 519 calories.
So much for a healthy meal. I would have been better off with the Cuban sandwich.
We're far more impressed with the food from on South Street. But if you're in the neighborhood of the courthouse and looking for a quick, light meal, Cosi will suffice ... but that opinion may change when The Jury Box opens.