Sizzling Express offers perfect Columbia Plaza stop

Originally Published 02/14/02

Consider it Columbia Plaza Dining Hall. As Sizzling Express opened its doors last Thursday, the grab-n-go chain newly located in Columbia Plaza quickly became the hangout for GW’s Columbia Plaza residents.

With a mile-long salad bar, hot food buffet, pasta and pizza stations, deli counter, sushi bar and alcohol bar, Sizzling Express greeted its diverse patrons with a variety of palate pleasers.

Perfect for the corporate lunchtime crowd, Sizzex is convenient for make-your-own salads or to sit down and enjoy the brief pause from the hectic daily schedule.

The overwhelming yet impressive salad bar has selections to please the diet conscious or those who prefer a light fare. As salad construction starts with a lettuce foundation, diners can choose from romaine, mesculun, spinach or field greens. They can accessorize with anything from your basic olives, croutons and chopped veggies to black bean or antipasto salads and top off their creation with any of the standard dressing selections.

Among the fresh and neatly chopped vegetable toppings are cold pasta salads. They have a range of pastas like shells, linguini and penne, and are combined with fresh vegetables like string beans, asparagus, and sun-dried tomatoes, and cheeses like mozzarella and feta, seasoned with olive oil and herbs.

Three large cauldrons are set at the head of the salad bar as you enter the establishment, causing confusion as to which direction the line is supposed to flow in when filling your plate. The soups vary day to day between minestrone, chicken noodle, cream of broccoli, French onion, beef with vegetables and clam chowder. The consistencies of some soups are too thick, making it heavy and overly filling.

Looks are deceiving when it comes to the hot food buffet. While the neatly arranged food looks appetizing, its taste is somewhat disappointing. The lamb chops barely yield two bites, while the chicken fingers are combined with the fish fingers, unpleasantly surprising those not fond of fish. The vegetable quesadillas look appealing to vegetarians, but buyer beware: with the amount of onions and lack of vegetables inside, you won’t be kissing anyone for at least a week.

Prepared on site by a Japanese chef, the sushi isn’t half bad, faring favorable over the sushi at J Street.

The most impressive part of Sizzex is the picture-perfect fresh fruit, served among the vegetables at the salad bar. The plump berries and the ripe melons look like they were freshly picked from a tropical island-all that’s missing is your lounge chair and the gorgeously tan servant to drop them into your mouth as he or she fans you.

Overall, the food is fresh but you have to compete for butt room between the closely placed salad bar and hot food buffet, as there is heavy volume during lunchtime.

Its location is convenient for Columbia Plaza residents, but the corporate crowd outnumbers them. Tables are hard to come by and credit cards are not accepted, but there is an ATM machine located next to the soda machine. Sizzling Express is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner but the prices for the buffet food change with each meal.
Bar prices: Breakfast: $4.29/lb, Lunch: $5.49/lb, Dinner: $5.99/lb

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