The Bite Phantastic

Posted January 7, 2010 in Eats

Phood on Main is an odd, eclectic, hodgepodge of a lunchery, one that will 25 percent irritate you even as the other 75 percent is swept away by its delicious and innovative menu. It’s the sort of place that you’ll feel slightly unhip at, if that’s possible in Riverside, only to be relieved to see Soap Opera Weekly in the incongruously placed magazine rack which is entitled “Aunt Audrey’s Quick Read.”


Now, I didn’t ask if a real Aunt Audrey exists—I wanted to preserve the mystery of Phood, like where to order, where to pay and little worries of that sort. But to make it easier for those new to Phood, here it is in a nutshell: You order from the deli counter in front. The menu in essence asks you to pair sandwiches and salads into combinations of two or three selections forming a deli-version of tapas, each item smaller than the immense servings we’ve all grown accustomed to and at quite reasonable prices. A Trio runs $9.95 and allows you to sample a myriad of choices. Some of the highlights for sandwiches include the Kobe Philly, delicately carved Kobe beef mashes-up with a Philly cheese steak. There’s also the “I Don’t Eat Meat Sandwich,” along with other veggie options. 


Now, the salmon BLT I ordered comes across as a smidge boring and yet a perfectly done salmon BLT is tough to come by, but at Phood on Main it’s an order away. It starts with a nice cut of salmon that’s roasted just enough to take a sear in the natural flavors and little else besides seemingly fennel, salt and a dash of pepper. Two strips of fantastic bacon, crisp and juicy, sit on top of the fish along with two tomato medallions and perhaps a bit too much iceberg lettuce—the soft textures of the salmon contrast quite nicely with the hardness of the bacon and the crispy sourdough roll. Dollops of tomato mayonnaise and pesto compliment the salmon and led to my plate being something of a sopa de salmon by the end of the meal. 


I rather stupidly didn’t add a salad to my lunch. Dumb. Had I done so I could have chosen from interestingly titled salads like the “Stolen Salad,” the “Nutty Crunchy” and the “Papaya Spinach.” Instead I grabbed a bag of “Dirty” jalapeno chips, which are friggin‘ great by the way and only shows the owners put care even into the prepackaged grub they serve. I can’t stress enough how tasty and well-prepared everything on the menu at Phood is.


It is an eccentric restaurant though. The take-out menu describes it as “Hip & Creative,” and that’s part of it, sure. But the booths have a granny touch to them, the people next to me were discussing Bible verse, and at one point a lady wearing what appeared to be PJs surveyed the crowd from the office above. I began to feel like there might have been something in that pesto sauce. Weird’s okay though, especially with Phood like this.


Phood on Main, 3737 Main St., Ste. 100, Riverside, (951) 276-7111; Lunch, Mon-Fri, 11AM-4PM; Dinner, Wed-Sat, 5:30-9PM. AE, D, MC, V.


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