Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Copabanana: It Simply Hasn't Aged Well

I mentioned earlier in a post about Tapestry’s Cirque du Saison event that we had also hit South Street’s Copabanana. There is a reason for that: You see, the wife is pregnant. She is always hungry and she always has to pee. The hunger part: The barbecue sandwiches Tapestry was serving seemed to be recklessly overpriced so she wanted to go someplace else to eat. The pee part: We were looking for someplace else when she told me she had to go to the bathroom, so we had to end the hunt for the hot new Zagat-recommended hipster hangout to be named later and go to the closest place possible. That was Copabanana.

I will say that Copabanana used to be a major attraction for us during the days when we used to frequent the area. First of all, they made terrific margaritas and a wonderful variety of the drink at that. They also made some darn good nachos, some of the best in town if you were to ask us, and we fashioned ourselves as major nacho aficionados (in other words, we once struggled with weight issues).

Well, it has been a long time since our man-about-town salad days. These days, it takes a Congressional order to get us out of Norristown. And in the time between these two periods of our lives, it would appear that Copabanana has fallen on hard times. Its neon d├ęcor has become a bit quaint in these days where “authenticity” is in such high demand. Their menu lacks adequate beer choices, which is fairly rare in a time where Philadelphia has emerged as perhaps the greatest beer city in America. And…well, let’s just say, in order to eat outside we had to present a driver’s license that the establishment would hold onto until we had paid for our meal. The place’s clientele must leave something to be desired if a diner eating al fresco is being looked upon as a Watergate-burglar-in-training.

In any event, this being Philly Beer week, I WAS going to have a beer while eating. I perused the menu for options and there were few. There was Victory Golden Monkey, which is always an enjoyable treat. It can get you somewhat bombed though. There was Dogfish 90 Minute, which apparently qualifies as an adventurous IPA for the not-so-adventurous palette. And then there was Allagash White. I was very confused to see it on the menu. Therefore, I felt it was the one I had to try. It was just a classic, incredibly refreshing wheat beer. Even without a glass (none was offered and I was afraid to ask, fearing that I would fall victim to some sort of mysterious craft beer hate crime at the hands of one of the street’s consistently menacing passersby), the flavors popped. Orange. Something banana-esque. Some coriander spices. I might have gotten a second one if the service wasn’t a bit spotty, our waitress disappearing for 10 to 15 minutes at a time.

For food, we ordered a plate of their primo macho nachos, a side of their Spanish fries, and an order of steak tacos. The nachos were still awesome, packed as they were with chili, jalapenos, salsa, and sour cream. It’s not a gourmet treat and you get the idea that the ingredients are extremely store-bought. (Kidding. I didn’t get the idea. I know it because I saw a manager coming back from a local store with, like, eight bags full of Ortega taco shells for making of the establishment’s tacos. Then I hilariously heard some nearby workers ragging on the poor sap because he had bought the wrong item. They needed tortilla chips, not taco shells. DUH!) Still, I believe that the item is worth the price of admission simply for the pure amount of accoutrements. I didn’t consume a naked chip. This is key.

The other items unfortunately did not earn any sort of rave, on a curve or otherwise. First of all, the steak tacos were served in some sort of odd soft shell. It wasn’t a full tortilla. It was cut in half or something. It was as if the establishment was afraid it was going to run out of shells (see previous note: it probably was). The actual steak was tough and overdone, and the flavor wasnonexistent. As for garnishments, the salsa was really scarce, the lime hard to detect, and the odd choice of a radish simply did not appeal. As for the Spanish fries, Copabanana’s website calls the dish “famous.” But if this is the case, they must be famous in the same way that Kim Kardashian or Paris Hilton is famous. In other words, it wasn’t earned and certainly isn’t based on merit and accomplishment. Nothing about the dish, slathered as it is with cheese and jalapenos, marks it as something you would want to experience a second time.

If you choose to go to Copabanana, I sure hope it is because you want to see a girl of moderate fitness wearing see-through, tight white jeans with black-and-white zebra striped underwear. That is there for the taking. Believe me, I saw it and still have not recovered. However, if you are there for a delicious meal and a diverse group of beer offerings, you might want to keep on walking.

Copabanana on Urbanspoon










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