Cafe Reviews

Ncounter: Mediocrity Strikes (Again) on Tempe's Mill Avenue

Mediocrity. It's one thing Tempe's Mill Avenue doesn't need any more of. And when it comes to restaurants, let's face it: Mill's selection of street eats seem more apropos to safe and sensible pant suit suburbia than walking distance from thousands of students attending one of the nation's largest universities.

How so? Thanks to years of notoriously high rents, deep-pocket chains like Chili's, P.F. Chang's, and Jimmy John's Gourmet Sandwiches seem to be the only ones able to afford the asking price.

But then, a locally owned establishment opens up -- Ncounter. And you want it to be great, you want it to succeed, you want it to win. But instead of distinguishing itself as something better -- something different -- on Mill Avenue, it not only fits in with this college town's main drag of chain-y mainstream eats, it could be mistaken for one of them.

Here's an excerpt from this week's review:

"The hot cheddar dip will arrive smaller than you would have expected and perhaps a bit greasier, too, thanks to grilled rye whose crunchiness makes it a messier affair than if it were housed in thick French bread. The cheese easily overpowers the slices of beef, and its shape makes dunking difficult in ramekins of not very beefy au jus and not very spicy sauce. Encouraged by the mention of roasted walnuts, I'd hoped the cold turkey pesto sandwich, also with provolone and tomatoes, would offer something a bit different in the way of taste and texture. Sadly, that's where its uniqueness started and stopped. More flavorful turkey and a white pesto dressing with less of a tang would have improved this sandwich more than a few nuts."

Want the rest of the story? See the full review of Ncounter here.

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Laura Hahnefeld
Contact: Laura Hahnefeld