After a 3-month hiatus, Collegetown’s most exciting new restaurant returned with a bang. Student marketers hummed around Collegetown, shouting down would-be customers and zealously offering free samples to whoever stopped for more than a second. The boisterous atmosphere continued inside. The shop itself was buzzing with activity: Music blaring, employees lively and smiling — practically a party in the store. In spite of the theatrics, the online order was right on time, and after a short sojourn I was ready to bring to you a comprehensive review of (nearly) every item on 2Stay 2Go’s online menu.
From the strongest dishes on the student-run pop up’s menu to the weakest, there was one dish that truly was a standout. With its subtle flavor, perfectly runny egg and a lusciously fatty pork belly on a bed of toothsome, tender rice, the dirty rice was far and away my favorite. A dash of bright chile added a key note of spice that made the dish into a really cohesive standout item. The awesome heterogeneity from the soft pork belly and egg paired with the fried rice in one bite made it my favorite meal.
Popular items often earn their designation by merit: 2Stay 2Go’s buttermilk chicken sandwich was, for lack of a better word, kick ass. A fascinating spice blend boosted the dish with a South Asian inspired, masala-like flavor. Aromatic spices like cinnamon and anise made this a very unique take on the traditional chicken sandwich that every restaurant seems to be serving. Along with the juicy meat and flavorful — if a bit soft — breading, the pickles and cabbage slaw were amazing acidic notes that made the dish a close second favorite. It practically fell apart in my hands from eating it so quickly, a great dish overall.
2Stay 2Go’s beef empanadas were also impressive. The fried appetizers had bright flavors inside — Chef knows how to use spice to brighten up a dish. Their sofrito was smooth, rich and had colorful notes of pepper and spice that tasted like they were picked straight from a tropical island. The cotija on top was a great addition, but the sauce and onions are great visual components which didn’t stand up against the strong flavors of the filling. The only areas of improvement would be the addition of a spicier sauce with either a lime or more acidic onions. That being said, these empanadas were a great exposition of the culinary skill of 2Stay2Go’s chef.
Although the majority of 2Stay 2Go’s menu items were incredibly strong, there was one item that needed improvement. The Mexican street corn appetizers seemed to suffer from two issues: Firstly, the popped sorghum was a fun idea, but the cheese and corn didn’t go great together, and the sorghum got caught in my teeth while also getting a bit soggy on top of the spiced cheese-mayo spread. Additionally, it just isn’t the season for juicy fresh corn, so it felt as if each bite of the kernels was deflated.
Finally, the burger, chicken wings and beet salad were all fresh, well prepared, and flavorful while also being made out of fresh, locally sourced ingredients. They were both very solid options but did not excite me as much as the more innovative menu items at the restaurant did. After sampling a bit of the entire menu, I truly felt like 2Stay 2Go was trying to pull me into summer on a cold April day. The buzz around this restaurant is well-merited and I certainly look forward to my return to this new Collegetown institution.
Gabe Schiffer is a sophomore in the School of Industrial and Labor Relations. He can be reached at [email protected].