Sunday, August 29, 2010

Jersey Mikes Super Sub

  Jersey Mike Subs is a national chain that specializes in hoagies,grinders,subs, po-boys, or whatever the hell your region of the country calls them.
 Jersey Mikes was started in 1956, in the New Jersey sea side town of Point Pleasent. The original name was Mikes Subs but was changed to Jersey Mikes when they started to franchise out in 1987. There are now over 450+ Jersey Mikes across the USA.
 So what separates Jersey Mikes from other sandwich shops such as Subway or Quiznos? Well the most impressive thing to me is that  they slice all the meats for your sandwich to order. Next to where they assemble the sandwiches, there is a full deli case. As they make your sandwich they pull out each hunk of meat or cheese, slice it to order, and place it on the sliced hoagie roll to make your sandwich.

Here is a video that shows the process.

 The bread is also baked in the shop, and you have your choice of White or Wheat.
Once your sandwich has the meat and cheese piled upon the bread. Its off to the topping station to get dressed with the condiments. The most popular way to get your sandwich dressed is Mikes Way which tops your sandwich in the traditional Italian style with Lettuce, Onions, Olive Oil, Red Wine Vinegar, Oregano, Salt and Pepper.  It warmed my heart to see that Jersey Mikes actually used oil and vinegar. Nothing that turns me off more then when a good Italian hoagie is ruined by putting a cheap Italian salad dressing on it. That is a disgrace, and I spit in the general direction of any sandwich/pizza shop owner and his ancestors that does this.
 When I went to Jersey Mikes I ordered a whole Super Sub. The Super comes with Provolone, Ham, prosciuttini, and cappacuolo.Analyzing these ingredients raised some questions . Well first off what the hell is prosciuttini? It appears to be just a black pepper encrusted cooked ham. It in no way resembles or tastes like the traditional Italian dry cured ham prosciutto.
Hot Capicola
 Cappacualo is just a fancy way  of saying capicola, and for those that don't know capicola is an Iitalian style hot ham. It is basically a cured ham that has been infused with red pepper, which adds some zing to the traditional ham taste. 
 The sandwich is of a pretty good size portion and there is enough for two people. A whole Super cost $8.50 and represented a fair value for the size and amount of meat on the sandwich.
  While I usually like my Italian hoagies hot, I found the freshness of the meats and produce made this sandwich work for me cold.
The sub is sliced into 4 sections
 The sandwich had a good amount of meat on it and was very flavorful. Eating it can get a little sloppy as the sandwich is really loaded with toppings. The Super compared favorably, and of even better quality to some of the local Italian hoagies from pizza shops that I have sampled  throughout the years.
Good Eats!!
 Jersey Mikes also has a line of hot subs, such as Philly cheesesteak, meatball, and a grilled pastrami reuben. Will review some of these other subs in future Pittsburgh Eats reviews.
 In conclusion I found the Jersey Mikes Super Sub to be an excellent sandwich, especially for a national chain. While only 25% more price wise then a comparative Subway sub. It was almost twice as large, twice as much meat, and much fresher tasting. I'm looking forward to going back to Jersey Mikes and trying some of the other varieties of subs that they have to offer.

 Jersey Mikes    8/10
 Super Sub

Jersey Mikes Subs
10566 Perry Highway
Wexford PA 15090
(724) 933-0101
(Moving soon to a new location in the same shopping center, next to Miyako Japanese Steakhouse)

Jersey Mike's Subs (Wexford Plaza Shopping Center) on Urbanspoon

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Pittsburgh Foodie News

Unusual Burgers A great article in the Tribune Review on some of the more unusual hamburgers to be found in the Pittsburgh area.  Throw Mama from the Strip "Big Mama" Brenda Franklin, from Big Mama's House of Southern Cuisine says screw it, and is closing her restaurant do to the elite Pittsburgh Parking Authority.  Big Mama's was know as having the best soul food in the Burgh and will be missed.  LINK

Sunday, August 22, 2010

White Castle

 White Castle home of the "slyder". A food of myth and legend. Drunks, stoners, and yours truly, crave these tasty little burgers.

 White Castle was started in 1921 and is the oldest fast food franchise in existence. They are known for there small cheap hamburgers. A White Castle burger in the 1940s cost you 5 cents, today 61 cents.
The little burgers are very unique in their taste, and the process used to cook them. A layer of onions is placed on the grill, and small frozen beef patties with holes are placed on top of the onions.  The buns are then placed on top of the burgers. The steam from the onions cooks the burgers and infuses the buns with flavor. No flipping is needed as the burger patties are so thin that the steam is able to seep through the holes in the patty and cook it all the way through. Here is a video that details the whole process (and for the love of god please turn down the volume, unless you want to hear a bluegrass version of Feel Like Making Love by Bad Company).

 Everything is setup for maximum efficiency. The reason the patties are square is so that you can fit 30 of them on a standard white castle flat top grill. The result is a single cook can put out about 30 burgers every 4 minutes. This efficiency was not needed when I visited White Castle, as the restaurant was empty beside me and my traveling companions.
   On the way home from a road trip to Cleveland me and my companions stopped by to get a sack of burgers for future eating. The great, or not so great thing (depending on your perspective) about White Castle is that you can hardly tell the difference between a fresh burger, and one that you nuked in the microwave. We put in an order for a sack of 12 cheeseburgers. As a side note, the White Castle we visited also served Church's Chicken. Its all the rage in fast food these days to combine two franchises into one store. So far I have seen KFC/Taco Bell, A&W/Long John Silvers, and now White Castle/Church's. After about a 5 minute wait, our sack of burgers was ready and we were on are way back to Pittsburgh..

 How do they taste, you ask? Like a very soft/mushy/cheesy /oniony little hamburger. The onions are by far the overriding flavor, so if your not a big fan of onions don't even bother. It only takes about 4 bites to polish off 1 burger.

By the way, a sack of White Castles will smell up your car like no other fast food in the world. You could Febreeze your car every day for the next two months, and still smell onions.
 So why do I enjoy a White Castle burger? Its more the novelty then anything else I guess. There really is nothing else like it out there besides some small diner type joints in New Jersey such as White Mana, that specialize in small oniony burgers.
 White Castle burgers are versatile as well. With people coming up with some very interesting recipes that incorporate the tiny burgers. Some of my favorites include:

White Castle Turkey Stuffing

10 White Castle hamburgers, no pickles
1 1/2 cups celery, diced
1 1/4 tsp. ground thyme
1 1/2 tsp. ground sage
3/4 tsp. coarsely ground black pepper
1/4 cup chicken broth

In a large mixing bowl, tear the burgers into pieces and add diced celery and seasonings. Toss and add chicken broth. Toss well. Stuff cavity of turkey just before roasting. Makes about 9 cups (enough for a 10- to 12-pound turkey). Note: Allow 1 hamburger for each pound of turkey, which will be the equivalent of 3/4 cup of stuffing per pound.

Castle Balls

For the meatballs:
10 White Castle® hamburgers
1 medium onion
2 pounds of ground beef
2 eggs
1 tsp. of salt
1/2 tsp. of ground pepper
1/2 tbsp. of onion powder

For the sauce:
2-10.75 oz cans Cream of Mushroom soup
5 packets of White Castle Dusseldorf Mustard
2 tbsp. of ketchup
1 tbsp. of Worcestershire sauce

Chop onion in a food processor until fine. Sauté on medium heat until soft but not browned, about 5 minutes. Drain using a strainer. Chop all 10 burgers in a food processor until fine. In a large mixing bowl, combine the ground burgers and sautéed onion with the remaining meatball ingredients, mixing well with your hands. Let mixture set covered in refrigerator for 30 to 60 minutes. Spray baking dish or cookie sheet with a light coating of vegetable spray. Shape the meat mixture into balls by rolling a small amount into your hands until smooth. Meatballs should be slightly smaller than a golf ball. Bake meatballs in a 350-degree oven for 20 to 30 minutes, turning them over halfway through the cooking time. Meatballs should be browned on both sides. Remove the balls from the pan and strain with a colander.

Sauce may be prepared while meatballs are cooking. Combine all sauce ingredients in a saucepan and heat on stove at medium heat, until thoroughly heated. Pour over the cooked meatballs. Serve immediately, or refrigerate the sauce-covered meatballs overnight and heat the following day in a slow-cooker

 No picture available do to the fact im not sure anyone has ever really made meatballs out of White Castles.

 The largest denomination of White Castles you can purchase is the 30 burger Crave Case.
 As you can see the Crave Case makes an excellent briefcase for work after you eat all those tasty burgers.
  Think of the envious stares you will get from your co-workers as they eye up your stylish case.

White Castle Burgers are also available in the freezer section of most grocery stores in the Pittsburgh area. If you live in Pittsburgh this is your only real option besides driving to North East Ohio. For some reason White Castle has franchises in New York, New Jersey, and Ohio, but sidestepped Pennsylvania.

 WARNING: Frozen White Castle Burgers do not come with the dill pickle that is placed on the burgers at the restaurants. While technology has put a man on the moon, it has not progressed to the point where we can put a pickle on a frozen burger.

 WARNING II:  Do to the onion content of White Castle burgers, methane gas buildup in the stomach is inevitable. Smelly flatulence and indigestion usually follows any White Castle consumption within 4 hours. They have the nickname belly bombs for a good reason

So while I enjoy the tasty little burgers, I think I will keep to eating them once, or maybe twice per year. Any more then that and the novelty would wear off ,and  I would probably wind up exploding. 

 7/10 (While eating)
 2/10 (4 hours later)
 White Castle
5095 Northfield Rd.
Bedford Hts. Ohio 44146
(216) 587-1949

White Castle/Churchs Chicken on Urbanspoon

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Welcome to Pittsburgh Eats

Welcome to my new Blog. The focus will be on giving you my observations and opinions on basically anything that I put into my mouth. Let me apologize in advance to anyone that I may offend with my opinions, but go ahead and take a number because your not the the first.
 My first observations will take us to Cleveland. Home of Drew Carey, the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame, a river that caught on fire do to pollution, and Melt Bar and Grill.
 Now you might think it odd to start a blog called Pittsburgh Eats, in Cleveland, but I wanted to start out low, and leave plenty of room for improvement. 
So I hope you enjoy the site, and please feel free to leave any feedback.

Melt Bar & Grilled

Well here I am in beautiful Cleveland . Being from Pittsburgh I was expecting the worse. A barren wasteland with burned out factories, and people with hockey goalie masks driving around and killing people for their gasoline. Instead I found a beautiful city with a picturesque lake front, clean downtown area, and vibrant suburbs.

  So after a visit to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, it was off to Lakewood Ohio. Lakewood sits on the outskirts of Cleveland about a 10 minute drive from downtown. Its a beautiful community with houses that remind me of the one the Cunninghams lived in on the TV show Happy Days. The destination was Melt Bar & Grilled as seen on both Diners Drive-ins and Dives, and Man vs Food.
                                                       They even have there own funky van .

        My companions and I walked in and were told there was going to be a 35 minute wait. Which was not to bad. The restaurant has about 25-30 tables and is quite popular,so expect a wait no matter what time you go.
 Since we were waiting, it was time to hit the bar. Which has some very unique decor to say the least.

  My companions both ordered the Watermelon Margarita, and I ordered a Great Lakes Brewery Dortmunder Gold. The watermelon margaritas were disappointing with a flavor that resembled grapefruit more so then watermelon. My companions could taste no watermelon whatsoever, while I could only detect it slightly. The Dortmunder Gold was a  great example of a flavorful  German style lager, brewed only a few minutes away in downtown Cleveland.
  We were sat after about a 45 minute wait. The second round of beverages included an Anchor Steam Beer for me, and St Louis Framboise for my companions. The Framboise was brewed in Belgium and was very similar to the more popular Lindemans Framboise. The St Louis I found to be sweeter and slightly less 'beery" then the Lindemans. Framboise by the way is a Belgiun style of raspberry fruit beer, where the beer plays second fiddle to the fruit flavors. It almost tastes like a raspberry champagne.

  Even more impressive was the friendly couple sitting next to us from Toronto, who couldn't stop raving about how cheap everything was in Cleveland. They continued being thrifty consumers by buying a big ass can of Pabst Blue Ribbon, a truly impressive sight.

  For appetizers we ordered a cup of the Cheeseburger Macaroni Soup, and Corn on the Cob with garlic butter. Both daily specials.
 The cheeseburger macaroni soup was despised equally by both my eating companions (one of which is my mother). My Mother said it reminded her to much of Cheeseburger  Hamburger Helper. Well let me tell you I love me some Cheeseburger Hamburger Helper, and I found the soup to be excellent. Calling it a soup might have been a stretch because it was more like a conglomeration of macaroni, beef, and cheese, not at all liquidy. It reminded me of Hamburger Helper with more cheese and more complex spice notes. (Sorry about the picture, I am new to this blogging thing and I have to remember to take the picture before I almost eat the whole thing. The soup was served with Goldfish Crackers, shredded cheese and a slice of dill pickle on top.)

 The Garlic Butter Corn on the Cob was the biggest disappointment of the meal. If there was garlic butter on the corn, it was very hard to detect. But that problem paled in comparison to the fact that the corn was ice cold. We sent it back and told the waitress to take it off the bill. She was kind enough  to offer to package the cold corn up for us , but we refused.
Melt is known for there great sandwiches and at this point in our meal we were hoping that they could save our meal from disaster.
The sandwiches included the

Westside Monte Cristo

               honey ham, smoked turkey, swiss, american, beer battered, mixed berry preserves  - $10.00

 A great example of a classic sandwich . The highlight being the mixed berry preserves that my mother dipped the sandwich in.

Smokey Russian

smoked turkey, fresh napa vodka kraut, smoked gouda, russian dressing  - $9.00

  Truly an excellent sandwich. Im a big fan of smoked gouda, and it teamed up well with the turkey and kraut. The Kraut was not at all like a sauerkraut. It was whole leaf  marinated napa cabbage, and I found it fit well with the sandwich. Regular sauerkraut can tend to overwhelm the flavors of anything you put it on, so the vodka kraut really let the flavors of the smoked turkey and gouda shine through.  Also the Russian dressing was fantastic. It was sweet with flavors of garlic and onion , and made a great accompaniment to the sandwich.


Sweet and Smokey Steak

                                      grilled flank. caramel port onions, smoked gouda  - $11.50
 Pretty straightforward sandwich. My companion ordered the steak medium well. The steak was slightly chewy and tended to separate itself from the sandwich when you bit into it. Think a very thin sliced or chipped ribeye would have gone better with the sandwich, but other people will enjoy the thicker cut.
  All sandwiches come with Slaw and Fries. The fries were above average being slightly crispy and well seasoned. The slaw was unique. It was a vinegar based slaw, which is not unusual in itself. What was unique was the amount of ground black pepper in the slaw. There was so much in the slaw, that the slaw was actually spicy hot. It reminded me of the time a good friend of mine was making stew while camping and accidentally poured a half can of ground pepper into it. Anyways, while I enjoyed the slaw, I think just a tad less black pepper would make this slaw even better.

 Remember also that if you get a tattoo of Melts sandwich logo, you will get 25% off for life. Or untill you realize you have a sandwich tattooed on your body and elect to have laser surgery removal.

In conclusion Melt came through where it mattered most, the sandwiches. While the appetizers might need a little work , the sandwiches that I tasted were fantastic. The drink prices were very cheap, especially compared to the norm here in Pittsburgh. Melt usually has a sandwich of the month and they obviously are not afraid to take chances.

 Im looking forward to going back to Melt on my next trip to Cleveland, and trying out another one of there unique sandwiches.  For those of you who haven't been to the Cleveland area recently, do yourself a favor and take a day trip, I think you might be as pleasantly surprised as I was.

 Rating  7/10

 MELT Bar & Grilled
  14718 Detroit Ave.
   Lakewood Ohio 44107  
   (216) 226- 3699

Melt Bar & Grilled on Urbanspoon