Category Archives: sandwiches
DidjaEat? Podcast 26: Dave Yates Hot Sauce Master
The DidjaEat? Podcast is BACK with a super fun interview with Standup Comic and Hot Sauce Master Dave Yates! While he is no relation to me, we share a lot of the same food sensibilities, and talk about his ways of the sauce, Chicago food, comedy and more! Check it out!
The DidjaEat? podcast is available everywhere podcasts are found!
Podcast Ep. 19: Jake Dell from Katz’s Deli
In this episode of the podcast, I sat down with owner Jake Dell to talk all things Deli and NYC History.
Tony Boloney’s Boken-Boy
I travel for standup shows a fair amount of the time and I like to scout out places for this foodblog and just in general (I mean, I am not driving hours to eat at McDonald’s. As my Dad used to say on vacation “shut up, we can eat that at home”). When I had a show in Hoboken a little while back at The Shannon Bar, I decided to visit the Hoboken home of my favorite place to eat in Atlantic City: Tony Boloney’s. If you aren’t familiar, Tony Boloney’s is Mike Hauke’s amazing Pizza and Sandwich place, 3 blocks for the ocean in AC (2 blocks from the old Revel, 300 Oriental ave. You can’t miss it. Go there. You’ll thank me.). They make their own everything (and use some amazing bread from AC) and they bill themselves as “Indigienous Atlantic City Grub”. I call it “F-ing Ridiculous”.
I googlemapped the Hoboken outpost and made my way there. They have great fountain area set up with no mass produced beverages, and another little fridge selling homemade mozzarella (Oh yeah, did I mention they also do that? Because they do. 12 kinds. Along with pizza that will knock your socks off.). I have a hard time making decisions in general (I’m a Libra, if you are into those kinds of things) and I was pretty hungry from driving for almost 2 hours so I saw and ordered the first thing that grabbed me…
The Boken-Boy: hand breaded chicken cutlet, garlic aioli, soppressata, baby arugula, sweet smoked mutz, lemon, evoo.
I know what you are thinking. “Chicken Cutlet Sandwich with cheese, big deal.”. But no! It is a big deal! I can safely say this is the best sandwich I have had in a year. Not in a calendar year but IN THE LAST 12 MONTHS.
Let me count the ways.
- Super soft and chewy roll that never fell apart nor ripped my teeth out. It held everything perfectly. In fact, only one piece of chicken fell out and that was my fault for taking a giant bite at one point and twisting my hand in a weird way. If you look at the photos, this thing was stuffed and the roll did the job. There was no after sandwich cleanup on Aisle Plate afterwards.
- The Chicken Cutlet was fried perfectly: not over greasy, not kind of overcooked or god forbid, burned.
- The cutlet was thick. It wasn’t some paper thin wisp of a piece of chicken that was smashed to death. This was juicy piece of nice chicken.
- The Cutlet was sliced into strips. Normally, Cutlet sammys have the whole Cutlet and everything piled on top of it. With this sandwich, the chicken is able to be single and mingle with it’s party guests.
- The Garlic Aioli was subtle and not a punch in the face of garlic. I had a show and was afraid I would smell like an old man with some garlic on his belt (as was the style at the time), and low and behold, I did not. Don’t get me wrong, there is a time and a place for stinkin’ up the joint, this just wasn’t it.
- The Wild Card: Soppressata. What’s this piece of meat doing on this Sammy? I’ll tell you what: It’s being awesome and adding some salt and texture. It also cuts right thru all the mild flavors to mix it up. It’s the card trick at the party, you didn’t know it was coming and it’s delighting the guests.
- The Baby Arugula and Mozz. The baby arugula added a little bit of peppery goodness to the Sammy (along with giving me the idea that *something* on this thing would be good for me, my mom would be proud), and the mozz was exactly what it sounded like: a little sweet, a little smokey and all amazing.
- Lemon and EVOO. Talk about a nice thing to pull it all together! The lemon mingles with the whole party and the EVOO is the buttery hug that pulls the whole thing together.
I cannot say enough good things about this sandwich: besides #1-#8, it was fresh, hot and mind blowing. If you are anywhere around this shop, stop in and pick this sandwich up. Ridiculous. Also, I had a Puck’s Black Cherry soda that was pretty on point! Puck’s makes soda with actual sugar and with no artificial colors or preservatives and uses natural extracts and essential oils. Absolutely delightful!
TONY BOLONEY’S HOBOKEN
263 1st St, Hoboken, NJ 07030
(201) 222 – 8669
Su-W 11am – 11pm
Th 11am – 2am
Fri-S 11am – 4am
This place has been a little quiet lately due to some serious traveling on my part and then the holidays. I took 2 trips, one to Disneyworld, which will be an upcoming post, and then to Los Angeles, which is the subject of this post!
I’m just gonna come right out and say it: the food in LA is pretty great. From fast food to fancy food, they have it covered. So let’s get to it, shall we?
We (me and the gang (Aubrie Williams, Jess Ross, Kaitlin Thompson and Briana Kelly) from the sketch group ManiPedi) literally picked up the rental car and went directly to the shining star of fast food in LA (plus, it was a long 4 hour plane ride): In-N-Out Burger! For those of you hiding under a rock, In-N-Out Burger is THE west coast burger chain. It’s not franchised, they have serious control issues (they don’t freeze or reheat) and it makes every single outpost shine in deliciousness. If you had to compare the burgers to a national chain, the closest that comes is Wendy’s, but that’s like saying Florida is kind of close to Canada because they are both in North America. If I never was allowed to eat burgers again but could have 1 kind of burger, I would eat this. That’s how good it is.
They have your basics: burgers, fries and shakes. While I am not the biggest fan of thier fries (they do not double fry the fries like most burger places, just single fry, so that they tend to get a little…hard…if you don’t eat them right away), if you order them “well done” they are a lot better. You order the burgers by how many patties and how much cheese you’d like. I got a 3×4 (“3 by 4”) which was 3 patties and 4 slices of cheese and I got that (along with the fries) “Animal Style”. They have a not-so-secret secret menu, where you can order your burger Animal Style (If applied to a burger, the meat is grilled with mustard, with sauteed onions, pickles, and extra special spread added. If applied to fries, it comes with melted cheese, sauteed onions, and spread.) or Protein Style (wrapped in lettuce instead of a bun), along with a bunch of other stuff including a Grilled Cheese (two slices of melted American cheese, hand-leafed lettuce, tomato, spread with or without onions on a freshly baked bun). The shakes are chocolate, vanilla and strawberry and they are all 100% ice cream, not a powdered mix. The best shake I have ever had, hands down. It was an awesome kick off to a great trip!
Next up was brunch! We met up with JP Boudwin, a Philly comedy transplant, for brunch at the Sunset Junction Coffee Shop in Silver Lake. Silver Lake is like hipster central in LA so I knew there’d be some place with some great food, and JP didn’t let us down. SJCS is bright and airy, with high exposed beam ceilings and a big glass front. We all slid into the big booth in the front of the place and ordered up from the friendly waitress (did I mention the service was amazing? and we had 8 people with us, which is always a pain in the ass).
The menu had a few different kind of Eggs Benedict, which was cool, along with all kinds of pancakes, hashes, sandwiches and egg dishes. It was really hard to choose, everything looked so good. I knew I was going to be eating a lot of, shall we say, artery killer food soon so I went with something light: The Avocado Eggs Benedict. It included two poached eggs with sliced avocado and fresh tomatoes, on an English muffin topped with capers and Hollandaise sauce. I decided to not get breakfast meats and got tomatoes instead of that or hash browns. Then I got a little nervous. Would that be enough food? Could that get me to my next meal without me chewing my arm off? The answer was yes, yes it could. The poached eggs were a large size and done perfectly (I want runny yolk. GIVE ME RUNNY YOLK!), the tomatoes were deliciously juicy and they were not skimpy with the fresh, firm avocado. The best part was the Hollandaise. It wasn’t scooped out of a pot that’s been in a Bain Marie for 5 hours. No, they whipped it up and plated it, and you can tell how fresh it was. Could a simple brunch dish be delightful? Because, frankly, this was. I almost want to smack myself for typing that but yeah, it was great.
We took a side trip in our LA trip to go to Disneyland! How can you not visit the place where it all started? If you are used to Disneyworld and the overwhelming monstrosity that it is, Disneyland comes off as almost quaint. That’s ok tho, I like quaint. Also, if you are any sort of pop culture junkie like myself, it’s neat to see all the original stuff. At one point I found myself alone, waiting for my friends to get off Space Mountain, and I wandered over to The Refreshment Corner (which, if you are familiar with Casey’s Corner in Disneyworld, is right at the end of Main Street in the same spot), which is an old timey spot sponsored by Coca-Cola, with great stained glass Coke Lamps and whatnot.
They have a menu consisting of a mac and cheese dog, a chili dog (or you can get the chili in a sourdough bowl), some Mickey pretzels (stuffed with cream cheese or cheese and jalapeno!), and of course, Cokes. Since it’s sponsored by Coke, you know the mix for the soda is perfect! I got the Mac and Cheese dog, which comes with a big fist full of bacon bits and a bag of chips. I also got a Mickey pretzel because…why not?! The dog was really large and tasted great. They were not at all skimpy with the Mac and Cheese (yes, it tasted just like Stouffers Mac and Cheese and I am ok with that), to the point where I was sort of taken aback to how much was on there. Theme parks are not noted for their generosity with toppings, so this was a nice change. I actually ate it with the plastic knife and fork, it was so hefty. The pretzel was warm, chewy and hit the spot after walking a million miles around the park all day! That says a lot because I come from the Land of Soft Pretzels. Even the chips were quality kettle chips, not just a half filled bag of air with some potato dust, as happens sometimes. I could not have been happier with my choice, altho the Corn Dog cart is still in my “What if..?” file. Next time!
I went out to brunch with my friend Sean and his awesome fiancee Sarah at a place in the LA Grand Central Market called EggSlut. Yes, EggSlut. Sean suggested it and I was intrigued. It started as a food cart and now this is thier first brick and mortar place. It’s more of a stall in the giant market (which is like Reading Terminal Market or Grand Central Market in NYC). They specialize in, shockingly, eggs! I love good scrambled eggs but if there is a hint of brown on them, I can’t eat them. I like a loose scrambled egg made with milk not water. I ordered the Fairfax and it didn’t disappoint! It comes with scrambled eggs, chives, caramelized onions, Tillamook cheddar and sriracha mayo. It was warm with just a hint of spice from the sririacha and buttery carmelized goodness from the onions. It went quickly into my mouth and left only a smile. Just as the egg gods intended.
But I didn’t stop there! I also got a strawberry hand pie from Valerie’s Confections. it was just about the size of your hand (hence..the name…and stuff…) and this one was stuffed with strawberry. The dough was so flaky, but it didn’t crumble when you took a bite. No, it just showed you it’s inside goodness and invited you to go on and destroy it. Who am I to argue? I destroyed it like a a toddler domineering a bowl of spaghetti. This was easily one of the best things I had on the trip. If you live anywhere near Downtown LA, get ye to Valerie’s!
We wandered over to the La Brea Tar Pits (underwhelming) and saw a bunch of food trucks parked outside the LA Art Museum. One of which was the Bool BBQ Truck, a Korean Fusion BBQ truck. I could not resist, and got the Short Rib
Burrito (white rice, cabbage asian slaw, special sauce, hot sauce, pico de gallo and short rib meat). The burrito was excellent! It was just spicy enough, so that the tip of my tongue was a little lit up but I could still taste the sweetness and the delicious meat. The people working the truck were so nice and quick with the food, it stayed on my mind the whole ride home! I highly recommend them if you are over by the Art Museum or hit thier page on facebook and see where they are. Totally worth your time to look them up and more then worth the money!
Speaking of burritos, you can’t go to the west coast without eating some fantastic Mexican food. We happened to stumble upon a great place called Machos Tacos. It’s kind of a shack on the corner of Vermont Ave in Los Feliz, yet another hipster area, and it’s next to a car wash. Oddly enough, I got to look at thier kitchen. I know kitchens. I know dirty kitchens and clean kitchen and kitchens you should pretend don’t actually serve food. This one was cleaner then I’ve seen in awhile. It also serves some amazingly kick ass Mexican food!
First up they make thier own chips (and the salsa is hearty with a parade of flavor!) and aren’t skimpy about it (so don’t ask for extra for free, this isn’t the welfare tortilla chip line!). Secondly, they aren’t skimpy with ANYTHING! Here are 2 tacos: the Chicken Mole and the Regular Chicken. Yeah, no skimpiness! The Mole sauce was dark and hearty, it didn’t just pour right out of the tortilla. It had a job to do AND IT WAS GONNA DO IT! I appreciate hard work.
I also got the Machaca Beef Burrito,and I got it wet. Wet, for all you pervs out there, is
when the burrito is covered in sauce. First off, this thing was heavier then my first car. It was half covered in a green chile sauce and half covered in a red sauce but it was all covered in AWESOME! The meat was slow cooked and when it hit your tongue it blended with the rest of the sauce and did the Macarena the rest of the way down. There was very little talking while we ate at this place. There was a lot of dancing in seats tho. So very, very good!
As a tourist in the City of Angels, you have to take a trip to the Santa Monica Pier. It’s just one of those things. It’s a cute pier (that’s now 100 years old and they are really fixing it up) with rides and a fishing pier at the end. They also have a bunch of churro carts and other oddball food. Of course, I would find the burger place. Wouldn’t you know it? Pier Burger! They have burgers, fries, shakes, a fish sandwich that Jess and Kait really liked and other odds and ends. But I went for the burger. I was on a burger mission, and this burger did not disappoint! In fact, I found it to be a In-N-Out competitor! I know! Shut my mouth! But it’s the truth! It’s a burger that tastes really fresh and is seasoned just with some salt and pepper and grilled up on a flat top. It was flat out F-ing great! I got the Double Pier Burger and I am going to come out and say…I liked it better then the 3×4. I know I’ll burn for saying it but it was that good! All I need now is a Pier Burger shirt! (they only had mediums when I was there).
One of the things I did while out there was attend a taping of The Late, Late Show with Craig Ferguson. I love him and his silly show, but I had gotten there so early, I had to eat before the almost 3 hours of being tied up in line and in the studio. So, on the corner of 3rd and Fairfax I found this big sandwich place called Mendocino Farms Sandwich Market. It’s an interesting place, where they give you a menu while you stand in line and order before you even get to the counter. Once you get to the counter, you also order sides. Perhaps you are not sure about the sides? You can try all of them! They encourage it! No one rolls an eye at you because you have trouble ordering! It’s pretty great. Oh, and grab a beer too. Not a shitty Miller Light, but one from a collection of accessible but delicious beers. Then you slide on down to the end of the counter and wait until your pager buzzes and BANG! Sandwich heaven!
I always have trouble ordering food. I can never make a decision and then when I do, I am always second guessing myself. It’s a horrible thing and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone. I couldn’t make a decision as to what to get so I asked the line order taker girl what she liked and she told me the Steak Bahn Mi. I flew blind and ordered it. Normally, I don’t like ciabatta bread because it’s so thick, I feel like it sucks up any kind of moisture in the ingredients. But they make the ciabatta fresh and it was still warm, so it absorbed some but it was soft, warm and chewy. All the Bahn Mi flavors (chili aioli, housemade sweet chili sauce, pickled daikon & carrots, cilantro, jalapenos and cucumbers). It was delightful and just enough to fill me up without making me feel like I just ate a lead weight. The girl who recommended the sandwich to me even came to find me as I was eating to make sure I liked her suggestion. I thought that was a nice touch.
Finally, one night we wanted to go to one place but it was full, so JP suggested we go to this sushi place that’s themed on the movie Titanic. It’s in the shape of a boat. Seriously. When I say they had a Japanese version of the Titanic theme playing, I’m not kidding. They even had sushi with cheesesteak in it. It was really good too!
This trip definitely was good times and I can’t wait to go out again and see what else is out there to eat and explore! Give my love to the Coffee Bean! I shall return! Here is a picture of all (well most of) the Philly Comedy people living in LA now with some of us who haven’t made it out yet. Keep an eye out!
Joe’s Steaks and Soda Shop: The Gold Standard
Cheesesteaks. Philly is known for them. They don’t make them correctly anywhere but here. If you doubt me, come here, eat one then try to get one somewhere else. I was once in a suburban Chicago diner and saw a “Philly Cheesesteak” on the menu. Jokingly, I asked the waitress if it was a steak on a roll. She said, with a straight face “what else would it be?”. That pretty much sums up cheesesteaks outside the Philly area.
Within Philly, there are good, ok, and amazing cheesesteaks. And then there is the best steak that blows your mind. It’s like a journey, trying to find the one steak that’s got the right balance of meat, cheese and onion (if that’s your thing). It’s the steak you tell your friends to go get, the one you point out of towners to, the one you hold every steak you ever had up to: The Gold Standard.
I have found my Gold Standard. Welcome to Joe’s Steaks and Soda Shop.
But first, a little background. Joe’s is owned by Joe Groh. Joe had been working for years at the shop, which was called Chink’s back then. You may be thinking “hey, that sounds vaguely racist”. After all, it was named after a guy who, growing up, was called Chink because he had almond shaped eyes. Soooo, yeah. That was back in the 40’s, when these things were accepted by most people. Now that it’s over 60 years later, things have changed a bit and after buying the shop, Joe decided his steak shop should be named after him. Was there also pressure from various groups to also change it? Yes. But in the end, he made the lone decision. He did the right thing. In a day and age when people rarely do the right thing, mad props to Joe Groh.
Unfortunately, when people do the right thing, sometimes there is weird backlash. In this case, jerks from the neighborhood with zero empathy for anyone but themselves decided that Joe had no right to control his own business and his name. That he should have kept that nice old name. That the thousands of dollars he spent on billboards and website stuff and all the fun of rebranding was wasted because he should have listened to them and stood thier idiot ground. They have been threatening him and his business, as well as leaving disturbingly shitty remarks on the business’s facebook page. Joe, at one point, was quoted as saying his business was down by at least 15%. This is a guy with a family, running a cheesesteak shop. That’s not right.
And luckily, more people felt like that as well. Two weekends ago, a Philly mag blogger arranged a sort of eat-in at Joe’s and last weekend there was another of the same sort of event. That was the one I got to, with my cheesesteak co-conspirators Vicki and Alex.
It’s a little place, from an older time when neighborhoods still had local sandwich places and milk still got delivered on your doorstep. You can’t help but feel like you stepped back in time a bit, most of these places are gone now, changed into a shitty bodega or junk shop.
This place is the real deal. You can even stand outside and watch them work thier magic on the grill. You can see the decades of seasoning on that thing, the mountains of cheesesteak meat, the fried onions and the happy people in for a date, or catching up with friends. Maybe sharing good news or just having a fun day out. If that grill could talk, it would say….”shut yer yap and get to the cheesesteaks already!”.
Who am I to deny the grill?
Let’s talk cheesesteaks. First of all, the roll. Joe’s uses Liscio’s rolls. They are always fresh and amazing. You need a good base for a cheesesteak because of the cheese, grease and the sheer weight of the meat, if you get a roll that’s kind of stale, once you start eating, it’ll fall apart and that’s no good for anyone, including your shirt.
Second of all, flexibility. Try going to the tourist trap cheesesteak places and asking for no roll, see what happens. No cheesesteak, that’s what happens. Blank stares. Weird head shakes. At Joe’s, they’ll put it on a plate for ya, as Vicky is gluten intolerant. The waitress didn’t even bat an eye! The rumor is that Joe’s is looking into gluten-free rolls. So there’s that!
Cheese choices are nice. Joe’s has them. There is but one choice in my mind…wiz. Cheese wiz. Cheese Whiz. Spell it however you like, it’s my personal choice in cheese with meat. Oh yeah. I know it comes in a 10 can. I know it’s not natural to this world. I also know I rarely eat it, so shut it.
Joe’s offers double meat on its menu. Not all places do. I immediately ordered double meat because, as faithful readers know, I always get the worst thing on the menu. I do it for you guys, for journalism, for my cardiologist’s kids so they can go to a nice private school.
This was so unbelievably delicious,I couldn’t even stand it. I looked like a toddler eating spaghetti, covered in cheese whiz. Some places just cook the meat in slabs. Some places mince the meat so much it looks like shredded lettuce. Joe’s chops it up into decent sized pieces, doesn’t overcook so it’s juicy but still has the grill char, and then layers on some lovely fried onions.
The onions aren’t charred or burned, they just get to dance on the grill enough for a little carmelization to take place, and then they come to rest in the party in the roll. It’s the perfect storm of cheesesteaks. It’s what’s in Jules’ briefcase in Pulp Fiction. It’s the Gold Standard.
Did you think this place is a one trick pony? That it’s all cheesesteak and nothing else? Then you are sadly mistaken! First of all, when we sat down, the waitress brought us a bowl of pickles and peppers to graze on. That was awesome. Then we ordered some cheese fries. They were perfect. They aren’t house made but they were fried perfectly (just a touch crunchy and warm and fluffy inside. Suck on that, Chickie and Pete’s), no burned ones, no slightly off-color ones. They were perfect. They weren’t skimpy on the cheese either, giving us a nice vat of delicious cheesewhiz in which to dip our perfect fries. there may have been some wrestling as to who got to finish the cheese, but I’ll never tell…..
You like shakes? I like shakes. Shakes these days aren’t like they used to be (get off my lawn!) but Joe’s has it on lockdown with handmade shakes in heavy glasses and a nice wide straw so you don’t get an aneurism in that 1980’s McDonald’s milkshake style. There were a few chocolate milkshakes on the table and none of them got out of there alive. I’m not gonna lie Marge, there was some fries dipping into that milkshake.
They also have fountain sodas. I don’t mean a fountain soda machine. I mean like, they use soda syrup and make you a soda. With flavors like orange, grape, and cherry (and many more, like Vanilla Coke and others), I had to get a Cherry soda. Alex got one too. We both tried it at the same time and…there was quiet for a minute. Quiet contemplation on how rockin’ that soda was. Holy awesomeness.
A nice touch at Joe’s is that in the booths they still have the individual jukeboxes. A lot of diners have removed them to out in those godawful megatouch machines. If I want to play video games, I’ll sit in my underwear, play them on my couch and eat pizza, thanks. They don’t work, but they are in pristine condition with a silly assortment of pop and classic stuff (we spied Elton John’s Candle in the Wind and some Bon Jovi). It was fun to see and add to the ambiance.
Finally, one more awesome thing about Joe’s? The price. We got 3 cheesesteaks (one with extra meat) the size of buicks, 3 sodas, 3 milkshakes and a large order of cheese fries and it was 40 bucks. Try that anywhere else. I dare you!
So if you want a cheesesteak that will blow your mind and make your body hap-hap-happy, get your ass over to Joe’s! It’s in the Torresdale section of the city, like 8 minutes from I-95. You’ll feel good from the awesome food but also because you are supporting a guy trying to make a positive change. Also, have I mentioned the cheesesteaks? Go! GO NOW!
Clawtastic Luke’s Lobster
Living in a town like Philly, which is like an hour and a half from the Ocean, you’d think we would eat more lobster. I mean, we eat a lot of seafood in this town, but not really much lobster. Every person I know (sorry, not my kosher jews) has a favorite place for crabs but I never hear anyone say “that lobster place is my jawn”. I would think that it’s probably because of how expensive it is. I mean, in Maine they eat everything with a side of lobster claw (and knuckle) meat. I hear they have so much of it that they freeze it and use it as hockey pucks. This fever I have makes me think weird things, so I could be wrong…but I doubt it.
Anywho, next to the awesome Underdogs, is a brand new place. A new outpost of a small chain called Luke’s Lobster. What do they sell? Lobster rolls! The quick story is that Luke is from Maine and went to school in that other little town you may of heard of, New York City. He noticed he couldn’t get a decent lobster roll to save his life (kind of how I feel looking for a cheesesteak anywhere outside of Philly). On a side note, how hilarious is that, considering Manhattan, where he was, is an island. So he decided to ship lobster meat from Maine down to NYC and show those idiot city folk how it’s done. And you know what? HE DID.
Let me just say first off that this place is not cheap. You aren’t bringing the kids here for lunch (unless you live in the rich people enclave of Rittenhouse Square, where this place is. Those people would consider it slumming to just pay 23 bucks for anything. They use $50 bills to clean thier cat’s litter boxes. If they weren’t already paying someone to do it for them, that is. You get my point.). But if you want to treat yourself, normal person, rock on!
As you can see, like I said, it’s not cheap. I got a lobster roll and a shrimp roll and it cost me $23. I am interested in the clam chowder and the crab roll, but hey, I had to make a car insurance payment that month. Lay off, moneybags.
The staff was super nice and while they did the usual spiel about trying upsell your meal, they weren’t dicks about it, so that was nice. And they have a little card that if you get it stamped around 8 times, you get a free lobster roll. So at least they are rewarding you for coming in. They also have a really cool collection of sodas form Maine to buy. I like supporting small businesses and I thought that was a nice touch.
The first thing I ate was the lobster roll. They keep it simple. The lobster isn’t hiding in mayo (You know my feelings for mayo, but I didn’t miss it here. Don’t tell mayo, I don’t want him to get mad at me.). The roll is a classic lobster roll, which is a hot dog bun split on the side instead of the top and then lightly grilled in butter (yum!). They just put a dab of mayo on the roll, load up the chilled claw and knuckle meat and hit it with some doctored old bay and some kind of lemon. That’s it. And it was AWESOME.
Eating this thing made me start wondering if maybe we are on the wrong track with things. Maybe the simpler things are better. Maybe we have taken things too far, that we need to scale back. Maybe 900 feet of snow in the winter and deadly seasonal depression is ok because you get to eat lobster rolls like that. I don’t know. I don’t know anything anymore! Rosebud! Rooosebuuud!
What I DO know is that a buttery bun with claw and knuckle meat that is as big as a golf ball will almost make you weep in your little cubicle that you are eating in as to avoid some jerkass coworkers who like to shit all over your dreams. And it’s salty tears of joy. The salt harkoning back to the sea, where the lobster comes from. It’s all circular, people! Circular! Or is that cyclical? Oh, I don’t know. What I’m saying is that, holy crap, that is worth every penny of the $15 bucks it cost.
Since I am a world class glutton (who needs to see 50, really?), I also jumped in and got myself a shrimp roll. No, not a $1 menu item from the corner chinese place. It’s the same roll, buttered and lightly fried and mayo’d, then jammed with chilled shrimp, that old bay secret seasoning mix and GO!
It was good, I’m not gonna lie. Was it as good as it’s big brother? No, sadly no. But this is like the Williams sisters. They are both good! Just one is more muscular, I mean, better, then the other.
So, summing it all up, YES! Go! Now! GO NOW! (check the hours first, duh) But go get the lobster roll. Or get the Taste of Maine, where you get a 1/2 of all three plus chips and a delightful soda for $20. It’s a pretty good deal. I will be back, Luke’s Lobster! Oh yes! I cannot wait, and I will be coming with small bills! *insert evil laugh here*
I wish Pinchy were here to see this!
Wawa’s In The Club!
Wawa’s In The Club! The club sandwich that is. Or, at least, thier version of it. I love a good club sandwich, preferably with extra mayo. Don’t bother putting it on the sandwich, just roll out the 5 gallon jug of Admiration mayo and put it on the table. That oughtta do it. Club sandwiches are a pleasant memory for me as well. My Grandmom (the dead one) used to really like them. I remember the frilly toothpicks she would remove before destroying that thing in a cloud of fingers, crumbs and stray lettuce. She was a real inspiration.
I rolled into the Bridesburg Wawa after getting the rundown on cat sitting for my friend MellieFlo on a rainy friday night. I had to eat, so I strolled over to the computer screen to order a classic hoagie (It IS Hoagiefest ya know!) when I see this new thing pop up…club sandwiches! WTF Wawa? I thought we were tighter then that, you didn’t even mention it before!
They now offer Roast Beef, Ham, Ham and Turkey and Straight Up Turkey on wheat, rye or white bread. Bacon is included, as it should be. An odd thing tho, they don’t offer to let you have extra mayo, which made the mayo beast MIGHTY ANGRY at the time. I got over it tho, don’t worry. You can’t really customize it like you can a hoagie, except for creamy horseradish sauce and adding extra meat, cheese or both (I go both. I mean, why wouldn’t you?). I also got the club on rye. I had to have it toasted even tho I don’t get toast when I order it out and about. That turned into a nonissue, as you will soon see.
So here it is, the Wawa Ham and Turkey with Pepper Jack Cheese Club. Cut in half and not quarters. I’m not gonna lie, it looked a little odd. It was a sloppy looking thing, but I was intrigued and gave it a go. I mean, why not?
And I have to say, it was pretty
good. Could it have used some pickles? Or extra mayo? Yes, indeed. But it had the right amount of meat and cheese on it, probably because I ordered the extra meat and cheese. When you are dealing with a sandwich that has a lot of bread, you kind of need to bulk it up a bit.
Wawa does use some thin bacon for it’s sandwiches. It reminds me of the Oscar Meyer precooked bacon: tastes good but a stiff breeze would crumble it to the ground. It gets a little lost in the sandwich, which was a little bit of a bummer.
What was really bizarre was the toast. I normally do not order my club bread toasted. It rips up my mouth like Captain Crunch. It’s no good for me. But the Wawa computer gave no option for the bread not to be toasted, so I bit the bullet and rolled with the mouthroof punches. Except, when I got home, I opened it up and the bread must have just walked thru the toaster becasue it was barely toasted at all. Look at this picture! Does that look toasted to you? Very bizarre!
So, altho I did not like the lack of extra mayo and the lack of being able to customize my sandwich, did I like the club? You know what? I really did! It was just filling enough and left room for me to have a little dessert. Check it out, it wasn’t perfect but it was still pretty delicious!
Jake’s Sandwich Board Midtown Chicken
A few weeks ago I was scheduled to do some standup at the F Harold Festival in downtown Philly. I was super early and parked a few blocks away so I could get some dinner at the famed Jake’s Sandwich Board.
I guess I’m on a sandwich roll lately (no pun intended). I’ve heard some crazy stuff about this place, and it is mostly known for it’s awesome pork and brisket as well as it’s Jake’s 5 pound Philly Challenge:
I would love to someday kill that challenge but frankly, I’m too much of a wuss to do it these days. NEVER SAY NEVER!!! *insert fist shake here*.
The menu at Jake’s is pretty awesome. They offer everything on either a seeded, unseeded or wheat roll from a bakery in South Philly. Got gluten issues or are on atkins? Have your sandwich in a bowl, or in a bowl on greens or in a bowl on fries (called a haystack!). Roll it or Bowl it! That’s thinkin’ when it comes to customers!
As you can see, they break it down to pork, brisket, steaks, and then other favorites. I stood staring at the board for quite awhile, catching flies with my jaw on the floor. The worst part of trying to order is when you are starving and one of everything sounds good. My problem was that I was going to be telling jokes to a (mostly disinterested) crowd of people and I didn’t need to be belching into the mic (altho, that might be an added jewel to my set…). I needed something filling and delicious but not super heavy. Decisions, decisions.
I went with, surprise, the Midtown Chicken. It has sliced chicken breast, roasted red pepper, avocado puree, red onion, cheddar and mozzarella. I got it on a seeded bun, for kicks. Yes, there is a kick ass sandwich under those onions.
The chicken is chopped more then sliced, but really that’s just nit picking. Sometimes when you get sandwiches like this, the chicken is dry from sitting around or overcooking on the flat top. Not this guy. The chicken was juicy and flavorful, and mixed well with all the other ingredients, it was like a festival of luscious delight in my mouth (take that, thesaurus.com).
I mean seriously, look at this picture and tell me it doesn’t immediately make you start drooling all over yourself. The roasted red pepper blended into the cheese which blended into the chicken and the avocado was a smooth transition into the roll. Unreal. So good.
And then I started thinking to myself, what could make this sandwich even better? Not the orange soda I ordered, that had brought it to the level I was currently at. I needed to jack it up another notch. Bring it way, way up. it needed some heat. Where could I get some heat? NEED HEAT!
And then this stuff shows up.
It’s some kind of hot shaker habanero powdered hot craziness. I covered the top of my sandwich with it and my eyes bugged out like Tom on Tom and Jerry when Jerry would smash his foot with a bowling ball. Whoooooo! (yeah with the name of St. Lucifer, you’d think I would have been tipped off. I’m not that bright, ya know.)
I left Jake’s feeling good about my food choice. I didn’t feel like death while waiting to go onstage (I mean, not more so then usual) and I can’t wait to go back and check out the brisket & chocolate covered bacon! Oh yeah!
If you find yourself in the area of 12th and Sansom, swing on over and check it out.
I know I’ll be back!
Ok, so if you read this food blog at all, you might have picked up that I enjoy a sandwich, but almost never, ever from a chain sandwich shop. Specifically, a nationwide sandwich shop. I try them, because I am not only a glutton, but a glutton for punishment, alas, it never goes well. The meat is gross or the bread tastes like recycled cardboard. Nasty. Granted, I live in the Capital of Sandwichland (aka Philly) and we do it right. But still, I keep looking. Hope, it spring eternal, or something.
That’s why I was knocked for a loop when I tried Potbelly Sandwiches.
Potbelly is a company out of Chicago (a sister glutton city of Philly). They toast their bread before they make your sandwich. Actually, it isn’t so much toasted as it is thoroughly warmed through. This makes an unbelievable difference in the bread. Ever put your socks in the microwave? It’s like that. A warm hug. (Try it). It’s not toasted like a grinder, where you take a bite of literally toasted bread and it all falls apart and you scratch the roof of your mouth so bad that all you can eat is milkshakes for a few days and you get that one piece of roof skin that drives you nuts (I hate it when that happens. This is why I had to stop eating Captain Crunch.)
Anywho, there is a Potbelly close to my work, and the other day I ventured in. The place is kind of neat, with mismatched table sizes and they had a sign saying they even have local musicians come and play. I thought that was supportive for a chain restaurant. They have a hanging menu for all to peruse. They have 3 sizes for the sandwiches: Original, Skinny (less meat and cheese on thin cut bread) and the Big (with 30% more meat and cheese). You can even get the sandwiches on “thin cut” bread, which is a nice wink to people watching thier carb intake. They will even make their sandwiches on a salad for you if you’d like. I didn’t try one but I saw a lady walk out with one and it was the size of a medium sized soccer ball.
Ordering is interesting. You walk up to the counter and tell them what sandwich you want, what size and what kind of roll (multigrain or regular). Then you scoot down, maybe pick up some chips and tell the next person how you’d like it: condiments, bacon, whatevs. Then they hand it to you and you get a fountain drink or just pay for what you have. They have plenty of snacky stuff too like brownies and cookies and whatnot.
A very cool thing this place has is in it’s fountain drink offerings. Usually, a chain will make a deal for either Coke products or Pepsi products. Very rarely will the two meet. I know people who will go to specific places and avoid others, just to be able to get the fountain drink of thier choice. I am happy to say that Potbelly gets you and your craving for fizzy beverages by offering BOTH. And also Dr. Pepper! And sugar free Minute Maid Lemonade! Two thumbs up for choices!
But seriously, let’s get down to business. We all know I got the biggest thing on the menu. In this case, it’s called A Wreck. It comes with: Salami, Roast Beef, Turkey, Ham & Swiss Cheese. I also got lettuce, tomato, onion (it’s almost a salad!) and sweet peppers along with extra mayo. And yes, in a Big size (please note the straw on the sandwich wrap for scale). This thing isn’t a monster but it’s warm and snuggly and delicious.
Sometimes you order extra mayo and all you get is a head nod from whoever is making the thing. The girl who made mine knew what extra mayo is and gave it to me, like a Christmas present I hoped for all year (I can almost hear my cardiologist planning his next European getaway). As you can see here, even with the Big size, they aren’t crazy with the meat and cheese. In fact, the salami is kind of lost in there. They do give you the option of ordering extra meat and cheese, but the drink and the sandwich cost about 9 bucks total and that’s about as high as I’ll go for lunch. Ok, maybe 10 bucks. Still, this is it.
The bread is the real star here. Like I had said earlier, it is very close to amazing. With a hoagie roll, you want a chewy inside with a slightly more done outside. It also has to have depth of flavor or you end up with crap (I’m looking at you, Jimmy Johns). This bread made me do a little dance in my chair. It soaked up some of that mayo and sweet pepper juice with ease. You know you have a winner when you get to that last bite and it has soaked up all those things and has just a little bit of meat and cheese left with like 2 pieces of lettuce hanging on…and it is the absolute best bite ever.
The funny part is that I do not want to know the details of this bread. They say it’s a secret and I am ok with that. It’s an amazingly, delicious secret and Potbelly has made me think that perhaps someone outside of Sandwichland might have a sandwich clue.
Keep it up Potbelly! I can’t wait to go back!
I went back and had the exact same delicious Wreck a few days later. So good! And the staff at the Potbelly on 17th between Market and JFK are super nice.
Burgers and Hoagies and Scallops, Oh My!
Many apologies for dropping off the grid for so long. I started a new day job and frankly, working in an office was kicking my ass way more then I ever thought it would!
Here is a little slideshow of some of the things I have been up to!
1. I visited the Gino’s Burger joint in Bensalem with very super nice & funny sketch comedians Brian Craig and Samantha Russell Craig from the hilariously smart and funny sketch group Secret Pants. We had gotten a Groupon and went to town. The burger wasn’t bad. The shake was ok, except that I had gotten a mint shake and when I took a sip (out of the rather wide diameter straw), I hit a pocket of flavoring and felt like I did a shot of Pepto Bismal. But after that, it was ok. I had gotten an order of chicken fingers to go and they were delicious. The type on the menu was teeny, no one could read it, which was odd. They did make sure you had tons of condiments tho. Any place with malt vinegar on the table is ok. Unfortunately, the location closed in February. While the food was ok, it felt like something was slightly off with that location and it turns out it was not corporate owned but franchised. Hopefully it’s just a bump in the road for Gino’s. The real question is why fast food places never seem to stay open on such a busy road such as Street Road in Bensalem. Weird.
2. I work across the street from Jimmy Johns, a national sandwich chain. While I detest national sandwich chains, I was intrigued and found myself in there one afternoon, super hungry and needing lunchmeat. The roll doesn’t really have much taste and the lunch meat is mushy. They have some kind of Jimmy John’s Special dressing, but I asked for extra mayo (the only way to fly) and they did not give me my extra mayo. Bastards. It was a decent sized sandwich for the money, they are super crazy fast in making your sandwich, and customer service was extremely efficient and friendly (even for me, a person who cannot order off a menu, ever) but it didn’t really do much for me. Wawa still kicks it’s butt. Note to the Wawa corp: Please put a Wawa around the area of 17th and Chestnut.
3. I attended the Philly Weekly’s big food event. The food from El Zarape blew my mind, but not as much as the White Bean Puree and Scallop from World Cafe. If they have that on thier regular menu, then get it. If not, then demand it. It blew my mind and then blew it again. Unreal.