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They say a good sauce covers many sins, but there’s nothing to hide at Too Much Sauce

Bowled over

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If you're the type that doesn't like their foods to touch, you should just stop reading now. The bowls at Too Much Sauce are meant for mixing, with each element paired and bathed with an appropriate amount of one or more of the 21 house-made sauces on offer. Too much sauce? No. Too many sauces? Maybe. But I'm the type who comes back from the hot sauce or salsa bars at fast-casual burrito joints with a Technicolor Leaning Tower of Sample Cups: tangy, spicy, sweet. If that's you too, you're going to love Too Much Sauce.

The concept is simple, but the flavor combinations are anything but. Choose one of the five composed bowls or create your own. Not into one of the pre-selected ingredients in the signature bowls? Switch it out. If you're feeling adventurous and want to build your own bowl, you'll select two "bases," including white or brown rice, quinoa, black beans, lettuce or cauliflower "rice" (a $1.50 upcharge, but a godsend for paleo eaters). Then top with two vegetables, one protein and other toppings that range from gratis – like onions or sour cream – to a small upcharge, like guacamole. Guac is always extra, amirite?

After you pay for your plate, pick your poison. Every bowl comes with at least one of the 10 sauces on the menu, but you'll want to squeeze a full flight of the 11 hot sauces at the bar. Wooden planks, like the ones on which beer flights are served, fit six 1-ounce cups. This makes epic or multiple sauce-bar treks, like the ones I've made a habit of, much easier. Each hot sauce is rated from one to 10-plus, so you know what kind of heat you're in for.

The Luau Pork bowl ($8.99) comes with white rice topped with lettuce, succulent slow-roasted shredded sweet pork, sweet potato tots, green beans and red onions. You might as well go ahead and lick the dregs of the warm Pineapple BBQ sauce out of the side cup after you decant it over your dinner because good Lord it's good. For a smidge of spice and big flavor to go with this island-inspired bowl, add some Caribbean Papaya & Chili sauce from the bar. Top it with a fried egg for a buck extra and it's a top-notch brunch bowl reminiscent of the Kalua pork with eggs and rice you'll find in our 50th state.

Too Much Sauce's take on Buffalo sauce is heavy on tomato, transforming the snooze-fest chicken breast in the Tuscan Buffalo bowl ($7.99) from mundane to a must-have. The sauce is viscous enough to coat the chicken while still distributing easily over the rest of the ingredients. I swapped out the red onion for diced cucumbers with fresh dill, and loved the herbaceous notes that shone straight through the spice. The bowl comes with Bleu Cheese or Ranch as is customary, but opt instead to spike your dish with the bar's Smoky Chipotle & Ghost Pepper hot sauce. It's a 10, so you'll want to wash down all those Scoville units with generous gulps from the Stubborn craft soda fountain.

On the night we visited, we were the only ones in the joint. I was concerned. At least, at first. Shortly after we ordered and sat down to wait for our bowls to be delivered – the service model is classic fast-casual – a flood of guests walked in. By the time I'd spooned the last grains of al dente cauliflower rice, the place was packed.

The space is bright, modern and clean. An open kitchen dispels any idea there might be secrets kept from the guests, and the restaurant's layout flows seamlessly from door to counter to sauce bar to dining room. Service was prompt, punctuated by the kind of aloofness millennials prefer when dining: Here we are, serving great food. NBD.

The restaurant's moniker begs a question for food philosophers: Can there really be "too much sauce?" In the brigade system favored in fine-dining restaurant kitchens, the saucier – the cook whose sole job is to make the sauces – is the most revered and typically the most experienced. Sauces are sacred in restaurants. Too Much Sauce might as well be holy ground.

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