By Christopher Nank, Gulf Coast Correspondent

The Capri, Waterworks
The Capri, Waterworks

The Capri ain’t what it used to be.

But Waterworks, in the venerable Florida capital of Tallahassee, isn’t what it used to be either. You can’t smoke in there anymore. Back in the day, when you could, the place was a smoky shithole by 11:00 p.m. But damn, did they have a roster of great sandwiches. The star of the lineup was the Capri; more than once I declared to my fellow patrons (and Tallahasseeans beyond the walls of Waterworks) that it was either “my favorite sandwich” or “the best sandwich ever.” I like to think I’m not prone to such hyperbole anymore, and in any case, those sentiments are entirely unwarranted when discussing this current incarnation of the Capri.

The Capri of old was stacked with fried eggplant. This plus the hoagie roll would alone have earned it superlatives from me. But the addition of spinach, goat cheese, onion, and vinagrette took it to a different level. The Capri was a meal in itself, like a muffuleta or that old Bennigan’s monstrosity, the half-pound burger topped with a fried cheese wheel (another favorite from a bygone era).

As the pictures here clearly demonstrate, the meal must now be filled out with a side of fries. The roll has become french bread, which has its own charms, I suppose. The spinach tasted more like romaine lettuce (which it may very well have been; alas, I did not consult the menu for a description, which in hindsight was poorly played). They’ve added tomato, which I didn’t care for, and takes something away from the flavor of the eggplant.

Eggplant is probably my favorite vegetable to make a main course out of. It’s really hard to screw up fried eggplant on anything. The problem with the “new” Capri is that there’s not enough of it relative to the rest of the ingredients. The bread predominates, flavor-wise.

Waterworks is still an awesome bar. And to be honest, I would probably order this sandwich again. Such is the power of nostalgia and gastric delight. Maybe it was just an off night for the kitchen. I may very well be trying to talk myself into that explanation to avoid accepting that the old Capri is gone.

Oh, and there used to be an organ lady at Waterworks who played Bee Gees and Doors covers, who is now also gone. And the drink menu has changed. So there’s that. Maybe removing the smoke wasn’t such a good thing.

Christopher Nank, Ph.D., is adjunct instructor of literature at Ringling College of Art and Design in Sarasota, Florida. His contributions to the Carrollwood, Florida, Patch blog can be read here. He resides in Tampa.

# # # #

February 25, 2013