Main Location: St. Paul
“The Big Orange,” Fork in the Road has settled itself into a St. Paul truck staple, being one of the first Trucks to receive news attention after their release. Focusing on familiar foods with their own house-made additions and twists, Fork offers a variety of different options that switch daily. The bulk of their menu containing sandwiches of one type or another; such as grilled, subs, sliders, hoagie, taco, etc. They also serve soups and salads, both pasta and leaf styles.
With no real singled-out area of protein, a trip to Fork can yield any type of meat-laden option surrounded by bread (or tortilla). Guinness-braised Bratwurst, pulled chicken and pork, meatball and salmon sliders, cured sliced meats in a sub… one can find practically everything you would expect to on the street.
So many options, it is difficult to determine which ones really shine above the others. From many reports, though, the sandwich to get is the Grilled Cheese with BBQ Pulled Pork and Caramelized Onions. They also sell a Buffalo Chicken Sanwich, BLT with Avocado-Mayo, and Guinness Chili.
Not to mention they do love using Texas Toast for some of the sandwiches (and no, not the thick, frozen kind we find in the supermarket… I think).
The Pulled-Pork Grilled Cheese really IS good and yummy, with that perfect grill and the whole nostalgia+ thing going on; and it’s hard to not like something with caramelized onions. From the continued business and sound of the menu items, I doubt there are very few things that simply aren’t well made and add up to a good lunch.
I very much appreciate what it is they do, but I find overall the food tends to lack a bit of… “soul,” of “focus,” that a lot of other Food Trucks have in spades. I would go on, but I think it’s best to read the TOE section for a full explanation and understanding of where I’m coming from.
Sandwiches are served cut, in a basket, surrounded by potato chips. Luckily they’re usually easy to pick up, at least the grilled ones are. I am not too aware of the hoagies and salmon sliders, those may be more iffy.
I cannot imagine that the salads are ones which you would be walking down the street to enjoy; those seem more “find a nice bench or go back to the office” items. Soups are a little easier, supposing one only gets them and nothing else. With their hardiness though, I don’t see that as an issue.
Very good prices, $6/$7 for full items (you can get salads in half orders, which cost $4), and I would say it easily makes a great deal for the food options being served.
Pasta salads and soups made ahead of time, grilled sandwiches come fast, and others come at the expected pace, leading to a good speed.
The TOE: 6
Fork in the Road has a big tendency to stand out from a crowd; the color really brings out that positive quality for them. Also, I think this is another case where the name used actually ADDS a little bit to that dining experience.
As to the food, after a bit of thinking, I actually sort of like the idea of the pasta salads; it’s nice to see a place that does them well. Salads in general for Food Trucks always puzzle me, but these are a good addition, and there are always people that want a salad with lunch. Soups are never a problem, and I love the fact that they use Guinness instead of a regular Ale; brings that rich, dark chocolate and coffee flavors that work so well in chili.
When I talked about the idea of “generalities” in my review of Gastrotruck, this is what I meant. Go on Fork’s website and look at their menu, and you’ll see what the problem is:
There are way too many things there.
Now granted, they only use a small amount of those options each day, but every single menu option is different. The only common ground is that MOST of the items are sandwiches, and even those you have Italian, Southern, Bar Food, Salmon, Fresh, Meaty, EGG SALAD… there’s no focus. They do a taco and a wrap; not TACOS and WRAPS, just a single of each.
All of these are good, solid menu items, but they distract from any attempt to try and solidify what exactly it is they do. There isn’t a single thing on here that really FEELS that special, and nowhere near are they to having a Toe Ring.
I personally think that they should draw some of these options back, figure out what works best and keep those, with maybe a couple more new regular items of a similar style, just different formula. As for ideas, I’m not them, I can’t say where their hearts lie, but if it was me I might consider doing a mostly Grilled Cheese styled concept. The BBQ Pork Grilled is a really good sandwich; it needs to shine among a group of its own kind, not shouldering itself with a mass of differences. Plus, the cities don’t even have a Grilled Cheese-themed Restaurant (which is surprising, I mean come on we’re Minnesota). A truck like that would stand out COMPLETELY and add that great uniqueness to the entirety of our Food Scene and Culture.
So keep the salads and soups up, and let’s hope that there is some more streamlining with the main menu items.
Okay, let’s get salad and soup out of the way: stick with the Pasta Salads, particularly I might try the Orzo if they happen to have it on. You can find a decent leaf salad in most restaurants, but the pastas done well are rarely handled. All their soups are the rich, belly-filling ones, but I would stick to the ones that lay on the more extreme end in that respect. Guinness Chili and Loaded Baked Potato are easily gonna fill that need for the down-home beer drinker; not to mention fill your stomach for a really low price.
After looking over the menu, here are my suggestions for sandwiches:
- BBQ Pork Grilled Cheese (no more explanation needed, just good)
- Meatball Sliders (easy to walk and eat, smoked gouda gives a different, tasty note)
- Buffalo Chicken Sandwich (for the bar food lover, creative twists on this are usually fun)
- Santa Monica BLT (for the health conscious; on a whole wheat, avocado + blt is almost always a good, balanced combination)