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Dessert hounds — well, this one, anyway — will find themselves obsessed with the salted caramel frozen-custard-style soft-serve, done up like a sundae with chocolate-covered smoked almonds and a luscious chocolate sauce (although the cheesy supermarket mini-marshmallows are a rare misstep). But the goodies don’t end there. Baker Rick Smrstick is following his boss’ lead and having some fun, turning out salty, crackle-topped chocolate chip cookies, curried pretzels, killer layer cakes and other easygoing, savory-meets-sweet desserts.
Yes, the disposable cutlery and dishes are appropriately eco-friendly, but switching them out — after all, this is a restaurant, not a food truck — with honest-to-goodness flatware and sturdy, leakproof stoneware would be a huge improvement. Some components — a tough jerk-style brisket, a greasy, muddled pho, a not-quite-there vegan coconut milk/soy milk soft-serve “ice cream” — could benefit from a few tweaks.
Back to that future-of-fast-food thing. As I was scoping out Southdale’s great-looking new food court, it occurred to me that owner Simon Malls is fumbling an opportunity to innovate. Or, at the very least, set its property apart from its lookalike Dale brethren.
Rather than defaulting to the usual chain suspects — seriously, Panda Express, Qdoba and Subway are the best you can do? — imagine forward-thinking WSK occupying some prime So’dale real estate. That would get me to 66th and France faster than a Dayton’s revival, and that’s saying something.
Follow Rick Nelson on Twitter: @RickNelsonStrib