"Experience the Madness" has long been a mantra for Georgetown students and fans of Wisemiller's Deli. The casual hole-in-the-wall convenience store and grill, just a block from campus, is often packed with hungry students waiting to order the house specialty: hulking provolone cheese-, bacon- and pepper-topped Chicken Madness sandwiches.
Noting low-carb diet trends, Nabeel Audeh, the owner of Wisemiller's, opened Wisey's, a healthier cafe on Wisconsin Avenue, in 2006. The spinoff has a more welcoming atmosphere, with seats, mosaic-topped tables and a kids' menu.
To attract more health-conscious diners and Georgetown area residents, Wisey's features a long list of lighter sandwiches, wraps and salads with low-fat dressings.
Sandwiches can be assembled with several bread choices, including focaccia, ciabatta, whole-wheat tortillas and low-carb multigrain. Popular sandwich choices include the hot Georgetowner, with grilled chicken, Swiss cheese and barbecue sauce, and the Chantilly, with smoked turkey, brie and cranberry mayonnaise. The warm Altuna Melt is a standout with tuna salad, cheese and a layer of snappy apple slices on toasted multigrain bread. Vegetarians will find plenty of options, including a hummus and cucumber wrap.
The menu features a variety of salads, including the strawberry- and tortilla chip-studded Riviera spinach salad, which works well with ranch dressing or red wine vinaigrette; and the tangy chicken satay salad, which gets a kick of spice to cut the poultry’s rich peanut marinade. Diners can design a custom salad with ingredients such as heart of palm, Havarti cheese, sliced pear and figs.
The cafe sells smoothies made with tart frozen yogurt and selections of fresh fruit on display in the front. Strawberry-banana is rightfully the most popular.
The classic Chicken Madness and companion Burger Madness sandwiches live on unaltered at the new spot. As Audeh says, changing that tradition "would be like changing the Coca-Cola formula."
-- Erin Hartigan