I sat down to interview the very funny and super cool Derek Sheen for the 24th DidjaEat? podcast. Derek is a standup comic based in Seattle and tours not only on his own but also as a feature for Brian Posehn. He has 2 albums out (Holy Drivel and Tiny Idiot) and just wrapped up his east coast tour. He will be hitting the west coast soon! So check out Derek on the podcast and also here:
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
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.
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.
In Ocean City, New Jersey there are 2 bridges to get you onto the island from Marmora: the 9th Street Bridge and the 34th Street Bridge. On the road that leads to the 34th Street Bridge (Roosevelt Blvd) is a BBQ place called Pappy’s. As far as I am concerned, you gotta take the 34th Street Bridge because, well, Pappy’s is a world beater in Pork!
I ordered 2 sandwiches*: a Southern Pulled Pork with a spicy BBQ sauce and a Carolina Pork Sandwich with a spicy vinegar based BBQ sauce. I also ordered 2 sides: applesauce and potato salad. I originally asked for cole slaw, but at that time of the night (around 8), they were sold out. So I asked for a recommendation and the girl on the phone was so enthusiastic about the potato salad, I had to order it. I was told the potato salad was made fresh everyday and it was a huge seller (in a very perky teenage voice). In all of this food: NO DISAPPOINTMENT!
Let’s start with the sides.The applesauce was pretty standard but very consistent. I do not know if they made it themselves but it was cold and worked nicely against the Carolina Pork. Also, they gave me a nice size portion. Sometimes when you order a side, you get a very tiny cup of it. I could have shared this with someone. I wouldn’t, but I could have.
The potato salad, after being built up so much by the kid on the phone, had a lot to live up to. The happy verdict is, it did!
The potatoes were cubed kinda large but were cooked slightly al dente, so that they don’t just mush up in your mouth. There was a nice crunchy part with some green onion as well. Nice touch, obviously someone over there is thinking about composition of the potato salad and not just slapping some potatoes and mayo together. The best part? It has bacon in it! *happy bacon dance*. And I don’t mean bacon bits, I mean nice sized pieces of bacon (see it? see it in the picture?), a nice piece in every bite. I want to say I was able to ration the potato salad before I finished the sandwiches, but my pants would be on FIRE.
Now let’s get down to the real order of business here: the pork sandwiches.
I love a good sandwich, as I have blathered on about in the past. But it is hard to get a really good BBQ pork sandwich, mostly because most places are skimpy with the pork. Or skimpy with the sauce. Or the roll sucks. I am happy to say, both of these sandwiches suffer from none of that. NONE.
Let’s start with the Southern Pork. Served on a nice brioche-type bun. The roll was chewy without having to break a tooth to take a bite and stayed together from first bite to the last, absorbing sauce all the way. it was, I can say, a perfect roll. The pork is pretty uniform in the pull too, which I enjoy. It is also obvious that this pork has been marinated in the sauce and these people are not stingy with sharing it. The pork is soft and absorbed the sweet but spicy sauce. I was not covered in the sauce, but would I have minded? Not one bit.
Here you can see the sauce. It wasn’t just squirted on by some pimply kid (like the squeaky voiced teenager on The Simpson) as he quickly wrapped it up and tossed it in a bag. The sauce is just as important as the pork. You can see the pull of the pork here too, which is also important. The shred is immaculate, and totally consistent throughout the whole sandwich.
Here is your money shot. Enjoy!
Now let’s talk a little bit about the Carolina Pork Sandwich. This sandwich comes on the same kinda bun as the one above, and again, it works perfectly. A lot of people do not know what Carolina Sauce is vinegar based and not ketchup based. It gets it’s spice from the red pepper flakes throughout the sauce and it is gooooood.
Again, the pork is pretty uniformly pulled. The shred is great and keeps it from falling apart. The pork is not as wet as the Southern Pork but it’s not supposed to be. The vinegar sauce permeated the pork and mixed with the flakes, turning it into a hot, tangy delicious sandwich of awesome. That is the technical term. Either way, it was hot but also delicious.
Now! Enjoy your money shot!
So, as you can tell, I am now a huge fan of this place, I want to put their kids thru college. I would like to buy them nice gifts, or possibly just tithe to them. I have to settle for pimping their goods. I also want to mention that those sandwiches were only 6 bucks each. Anywhere else and it would cost you upwards of 9 bucks for a sandwich like that. Yet another reason to love this place. If you want to eat in, the place is a BYOB, so feel free to bring your favorite booze and stuff your face with the best pork I have had in many, many years. I hear the ribs are awesome too, I think they are next on my list. Check out Pappy’s at http://www.pappyspigroast.com! They also cater! So check it out!
Disappointment is NOT AN OPTION!
*If you were wondering, I did not eat both sandwiches in one sitting. I ate half of each then put them into the fridge. They were even better the next day.
So, as you may or may not know, I live in Philly, aka Sandwich Capital Of The World. We have the best sandwiches, the best bread, the best selection and the best sandwich makers in the world.
I will pause here for guffaws from people of different cities.
Ok, so, yes, we do it right and we do it above and beyond. When you live in sandwichland, it is hard to eat sandwiches other places and not be let down (this is why I would like to buy the Subway sandwich chain and put it right out of business. And then chase Jared with a pitchfork to Canada…but that’s another story for another day). I have come to accept that when I am in other cities and I get a sandwich, it is just sustenance, not anything to be enjoyed.
And then something weird happened.
I spent 7 days in Disneyworld with my Aunt and cousins. One day I went with my Aunt to Downtown Disney to do some shopping. Downtown Disney, if you didn’t know, is a plot of land chock full of shops, some Disney themed & some not and restaurants of all shapes and sizes. For instance, there is a Wolfgang Puck there (I ate there and wasn’t very impressed. There should be no mold smell anywhere in your restaurant. I am talking to you, enclosed porch area.), a Rainforest Cafe, a House Of Blues, a Fulton’s Crab House, you get the picture. There are also a few quickie type places, and Earl Of Sandwich is one.
It was hot, I was tired and we just wanted to eat. I thought the place was a sit down and when we walked in, we were a little taken back. It is more cafeteria style ordering, and the line was loooong. But to our surprise, it moves quickly because you order on one end of the counter, just the sandwich (or salad or soup, the big stuff), and move along to the other end where you pick up a dessert or a side (like, say, potato salad) and slide on down to the cashier where you pay for everything as well as a drink and/or slushie. They give you a pager and you hang out while they make your sandwich and page you.
The pictures on the boards hanging about looked delicious but we all know food magic can be done via crafty photogs. Once the pager went off, I skipped over, picked up the bag and slid back into my seat. I have never been so happy to have my expectations shattered.
Earl Of Sandwich makes little loaves of bread (to those of you familiar with Wawa, they are about the size of a Shorti. Those of you who are not familiar with Wawa, I am sorry for you.) about 6 inches long. They warm the sandwich up and wrap it in a foil wrap to keep it’s heat, altho I gotta say, it won’t last long.
I ordered the Hawaiian BBQ sandwich. This thing had Grilled Chicken, Roasted Ham, Aged Swiss, Fresh Pineapple & Hawaiian BBQ Sauce. It could have been a hot mess, and not in any kind of good way. The chicken could have been dry, the ham could have been lunch meat crap and the Hawaiian BBQ sauce? God knows.
So I jumped in. I unwrapped. The bread was still warm and soft, but it seemed sturdy. Cut on a bias, so I could peek in, it smelled delicious and I had to restrain myself from just stuffing it right in my face in order to take some pictures!
The chicken was shockingly juicy. It has absorbed some of the fresh pineapple pieces, that did not fall right out of the bread. The ham was cut thin, but you can tell they make that ham there, and don’t just ship it in and open up a cryovac bag.
The star of the show was the BBQ sauce. It was sweet without putting you in a coma, with a nice tang that the pineapple compliments. There was just enough to soak a little into the bread without making it soggy but enough to mix in with the ingredients. I have to hand it to the food guys in the bog offices at Earl Of Sandwich, this was a kickass sandwich.
But the star, the real shining star of this beauty is the bread, called “artisan loaf”.
I don’t know exactly what they means, but it was able to hold that crazy, juicy delicious thing all together without falling apart. The texture is almost like a southern biscuit but still slightly buttery and not ridiculously chewy. I don’t know how much R&D they put into that bread but BRAVO!
I also ordered 2 sandwiches besides the Hawaiian, to keep in the fridge at the hotel for late night eating. One was “The Original 1762″ (Freshly Roasted Beef, Sharp Cheddar & Creamy Horseradish Sauce”) and “The Full Montague” (Freshly Roasted Beef, Turkey, Aged Swiss & Sharp Cheddar, Lettuce, Roma Tomatoes & the Earl’s Mustard Sauce). I ate the Original the next night after a particularly long day at The Magic Kingdom. It melded together into, and I am not exaggerating, a sandwich fit for the Gods. I didn’t even warm it up, the roast beef and horseradish sauce mingled together with the cheese and the bread held together perfectly. I ate the Montague the day after that for lunch and still, fantasticalness (yes, that is a word). Mustard sauce didn’t get lost in the bread and even the lettuce (Bib lettuce I believe) was great!
I have never had a sandwich so good outside of my home area like this! And while I did not have the soup or the potato salad, my Aunt did and she raved about the potato salad and loved the soup. She loved that you could browse the salads and desserts in the line going towards the register, which is nice if you are picky about what something looks like or how fresh something is. We both thought the (lettuce type) salads looked awesome as well.
Earl Of Sandwich, I implore you: please come to Philly, beyond our airport (or which you do have a stand and I have, more then once, thought about driving there just for another bite of your deliciousness). Philly will embrace you. You do it right, unlike other sandwich chains *coughsubwaycough* and make them look like fools.
My cousin John visited New Orleans for work and tried to jam some good food into his visit. He succeeded!
John says “Beignets from Cafe Du Monde. It’s fried dough covered in powdered sugar. It is something good covered in something great; like a monkey in a gold tuxedo!”.
I can’t really argue with that.
He also sent me a picture of a Po’ Boy he ate there.
John says “Po’ Boy from The Acme Oyster House. A shrimp Po’ Boy to be precise.”.
John is a man of not many words but he knows some good food when he sees it!