South Street Steaks

March 15, 2012

Based on my number one fan’s recommendation, I branched out while in Maryland and went to South Street Steaks rather than Jerry’s. It was a wise choice (and she is a wise fan). South Street Steaks offers a wide array of cheesesteaks (11 different ones in total).

Being somewhat of a cheesesteak traditionalist, I went with the cheesesteak hoagie, featuring meat, cheese, lettuce, tomato, fried onions, and mayo. The sandwich was tasty, but not mind-blowingly good. I enjoyed eating it, but I felt like it could be better. In comparison to Jerry’s, this is definitely a healthier sandwich because the sandwich is nowhere near as greasy. The meat was sliced, which was a nice change from the ground beef I’m used to having.

My only two complaints are about the mayo and the tomatoes. Mainly, I could have used more of both. The mayo was unevenly distributed because it was at the bottom of the sandwich and I rarely tasted it.

And the tomato? One slice of tomato cut in half and each half is then put on each side of the sandwich. What’s the point of putting tomato on the sandwich if it’s just going to fall off when you take the sandwich out of the wrapper?

South Street Steaks also offers hot dogs, wings, cold cut hoagies, and fries. Even if you don’t like hoagies, you’re bound to find something you like.

South Street Steaks has two locations in Maryland. I went to the one located at 12207 Darnestown Rd. in Gathersburg, MD (http://www.southstreetsteaks.com) and they can be found on Twitter @whizwit.

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Toasties

January 23, 2012

Since I began working in Midtown Manhattan I‘ve had a very hard time finding a quality sandwich shop. My co-workers recommended Subway, a recommendation I immediately dismissed. Ess-A-Bagel was a candidate, but I found that I didn’t like their meats or the fact that they only serve their sandwiches on bagels. And then I found Toasties. Although not the best sandwich shop I’ve ever been to, it’s not the worst (and there’s room for improvement).

Palta

On my first visit I decided on the Plata (grilled chicken, melted cheddar cheese, guacamole, pico de gallo and romaine lettuce).  I was excited about the pico and guac, sadly, these were the least taste-worthy aspects of the entire sandwich. If a small glob of guac hadn’t’ve hit my plate, I would’ve forgotten that it was there. As for the pico, I’d love to say something about it, but I couldn’t taste it at all. I was hoping it’d give the sandwich some kick, but there was no kick, there wasn’t even a love tap. The melted cheddar is a little overpowering and it quickly becomes the dominant flavor in the sandwich. Even with all of these flavors, the sandwich was quite bland because the grilled chicken is dry, and dry chicken is never good. If I ever order this again, I’d ask for extra guac and pico to see if they actually have a positive impact on the sandwich’s flavor, however, I can’t see myself giving it a second chance.

White Collar Philly

On my second visit I ordered the White Collar Philly (roast beef, melted mozzarella, grilled onions and roasted red peppers). This is yet another poorly made variation of a Philly Cheesesteak. Like chicken parm sandwiches, I cannot find a decent Philly Cheesesteak in Manhattan. The meat was the usual fried ground beef, but I never once tasted the onions or peppers. Come to think of it, I never even saw the onions.

Other places seem to have more meat than cheese on their Philly Cheesesteaks, but Toasties is different. They realize it’s a Philly cheesesteak not a Philly steakcheese, and there’s an abundance of cheese on the sandwich. This made the cheese the lone bright spot of this sandwich. This sandwich made me wonder if the Blue Collar Philly would be better, however, Toasties doesn’t make that so there’s no comparison to be made. Overall, it was a decent attempt at a Philly cheesesteak, but not one I’d be willing to order again.

Downtown

My final sandwich was the Downtown (turkey and roast beef with Swiss, lettuce, tomato, onion, horseradish and mayo). I believe that roast beef and turkey go well together and should be joined on more sandwiches. Although this was my favorite of the three sandwiches, I couldn’t taste either of the dressings, (I couldn’t even see them on the sandwich) but the meats saved this sandwich. There was more turkey than roast beef, and I was okay with that even though I usually like an even amount of each. The turkey and the roast beef worked well together (well enough for me not to notice that there was a lack of dressing).

Conclusion

Toasties is a little different from other sandwich shops, what with the house music blaring. It’s a little disorienting when you initially walk in and have to figure out what to do to get what you want (there are different lines for salads, soups, and sandwiches). But the system is easily navigated once you get yourself situated. The sandwich prices are higher than I’d like to pay (my average sandwich costs $10.07), but it’s either this or Subway (thus far), so I’ll stick with this.

The sandwich menu is quite diverse, and it’s this diversity that will make me go back and try more sandwiches until I find the one that’s right for me.

The Toasties I reviewed is located at 599 Lexington Ave. (www.toastiestogo.com) and they can be found on Twitter @toasties52.

The Ear Inn is one of the oldest bars in Manhattan, and I think it’s safe to say that most patrons are there more for the atmosphere than for the food. However, the Ear has one of the better bar food menus in Manhattan. Normally I order the burger, which is good unto itself, but, feeling the need for a change, I ordered the cheese steak on the “Specials” board. I was pleasantly surprised with how great it was. I think the lower your expectations are when you order a sandwich, the more surprised you are when that sandwich exceeds expectations. And this sandwich certainly exceeded all of my expectations.

This cheese steak is minimalist. It’s meat, cheese, and bread. No onions. No peppers. No extraneous toppings. The steak was of the thick variety, not the overly diced meat you get from 99 Miles to Philly. I’ve found that the thicker the steak is, the tastier the sandwich. And this was definitely the case here. Each bite had the perfect amount of all three ingredients. No bite was heavier on one item than the other. There’s just the right amount of cheese placed on the meat that it’s not running over the sides or taking over the sandwich.

The sandwich arrives open on a thick ciabatta. There’s so much meat on the sandwich that I needed a knife to properly fold it.  The ciabatta bread is a perfect choice here because it allows the sandwich to retain it’s structural integrity because it doesn’t get dampened by the cheese or the juices from the meat, which means it doesn’t get soggy or mushy. If this sandwich were on your typical roll, the back end of the sandwich would have been a greasy mess.

Washing it down with a pint of Guinness makes the meal even better. (Actually, washing down any meal with a Guinness makes it infinitely better),

The cheese steak isn’t always on the menu, so when you see it on the specials board, order it and chow down.

The Ear Inn is located at 326 Spring St.