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Friday, July 25, 2014 |  Madison, WI: 67.0° F  Overcast
Eats

FOOD AND DRINK

New Sonic on University is a bust
Nostalgia not the overwhelming sentiment at the drive-in


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So in the midst of many reminders to myself not to let summer slip away this year, I made it to the Sonic Drive-In on University Avenue near Allen Boulevard last night. Piled the dogs in the back seat and took off in anticipation of a super-fun summer fast food experience.

Sonic, which was eagerly anticipated locally wasn't doing a huge business despite the beautiful night, although there were plenty of people there. I drove right up to a space and began pondering the large menu.

The menu is full of slushes and sundaes and floats and cream pie shakes and whathaveyou. One thing it does not have on it, though, is a fish sandwich.

Since birth, or shortly thereafter, this is what I've ordered at fast food stands. As a kid I didn't even like hamburgers; some of my earliest memories are of the McDonald's Filet-O-Fish sandwich. I remember Burger King's Whaler, since replaced by the BK Big Fish. I don't always order the cod sandwich at Culver's, but when walleye season comes around, it's the walleye sandwich for me. Out east, there's a sit-down chain called Friendly's that serves a sandwich called the Fishamajig which is essentially a frozen fish patty stuffed inside a grilled cheese sandwich with plenty of tartar sauce. Fortunately (considering the nearest Friendly's is in Defiance, Ohio), a Fishamajig is fairly easy to replicate in the home kitchen.

I don't order fish sandwiches at fast food places because I think it's health food. I order them because I like them. While I'm not a vegetarian, I am trying to eat less meat for a variety of reasons. So the slate of burgers and chicken sandwiches on the board at Sonic just didn't appeal. True vegetarians would be hard-pressed at Sonic, where even the salads come standard with chicken.

I ended up with a CroiSONIC cheese and egg breakfast sandwich, which was inoffensive, I guess. My dog was wild about it.

One positive thing to say about Sonic is that breakfast items are served all day. The fries were okay -- shaped like McDonald's but drier. The free "Route 44" size upgrade on the Real Fruit lime slush resulted in 44 ounces (you read that right -- more than a quart) of icy limeade (plenty of lime slices therein, it's true) in a gargantuan cup made with a freakishly small base so that it can still fit into a standard size car cupholder, although top-heavy if you try to set it on anything else.

I don't want to sound like some kind of crank that doesn't realize that Sonic is peddling junk food. But it would nice if there were options like a salad created from the ground up for people who aren't eating meat. Or a fish sandwich. Or a veggie dog. Far from making me relish a nostalgic summer trip to the drive-in, my trip to Sonic depressed me.

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