Wednesday, November 28, 2007
Cleveland, OH 44113
By Edward Sandwichhands
Getting excited about cafeteria style food can be difficult - unless, of course, you happen to be at Sokolowski’s University Inn. I was immediately struck by the warm atmosphere while waiting in line. (Apparently no matter how early you get to Sokolowki’s there is always a line due to the loyal customer base and general notoriety of the establishment.)
A large sign over the entry way reminds us that we “enter as strangers and leave as friends.” If I ever needed a friend in Cleveland I would certainly want that friend to have the attributes of: pierogies, sirloin steak, cabbage and noodles, rice pudding, hot corned beef, mashed potatoes, and pecan pie. We ordered so much food that the cashier exclaimed, “you boys must be home visiting from school!” We weren’t, but I certainly felt like a child as I approached the food counter. The variety of delicious foods is nearly overwhelming. It is one thing to be presented with a large menu, it is another to have a years worth of prepared food looking at you from behind a glass window.
The sirloin steak was incredible. It was slathered in warm gravy and endless love. The cabbage and noodles were so buttery and delicious that I wanted to stay with them forever (unlike any woman I’ve ever been with). The pierogies were to die for; Mrs. T could certainly learn a thing or two from the staff of Sokolowski’s. It’s hard to explain just what makes an incredible pierogi, for me it had to be the texture. They were neither too soft nor too turgid – an incredible infusion of potato and dough. The rye bread on my corned beef sandwich was buttered and then grilled. The corned beef was chewy, but manageable. Overall, the sandwich was fit for a better man than I.
My biggest worry was that we wouldn’t finish the food we had ordered. There was no way I was going to lose face in front of Cleveland’s finest, so I threw caution to the wind and ate until I was ready to puke and die. During the last three years in Cleveland I never imagined that I would have a reason to come back to sweet CLE - Sokolowski’s could be that reason.
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
3106 Saint Clair Ave NE
Cleveland, OH 44114
By Edward Sandwichhands
The breakfast sandwich is an interesting creation. Origins unknown, the sandwich undoubtedly owes its popularity to the emergence of the American fast-food breakfast movement of the late 1960’s. Whether we like it or not, McDonalds has helped to popularize the trend of taking the entire breakfast plate and putting it on the toast. This is exactly how I approached Slyman’s breakfast experience. I ordered the corned beef and cheese omelet with rye toast as well as the standard egg and cheese breakfast sandwich on wheat toast. The waitress was not pleased with my order. She politely told us that we were ordering a lot of food. We responded with laughter.
My omelet came first. It was somewhat intimidating. I had imagined a standard omelet with some corned beef and cheese. Of course what I received was more the creation of Slyman’s than breakfast convention. It was a massive mound of delicious corned beef wrapped in a small amount of eggs with some Swiss cheese in-between. It wasn’t actually a small amount of eggs – it just seemed that way because of all the corned beef. When no one was looking (shhhhhhhhhh!) I took some of the corned beef and put it on my breakfast sandwich. It was incredible. Why do we let McDonalds decide which meats we are going to eat on our breakfast sandwiches? To hell with breakfast convention – give me massive amounts of corned beef in the morning, or give me death.
Sunday, November 11, 2007
230 W. Huron Rd.
Cleveland, OH, 44113 - USA
Bite: Massive, tasty, satisfying.
by Beau Cadiyo
Tower City has always seemed crowded, dark and oppressive. I wandered through the food court looking at options and people. The former were plentiful and the latter were motley – some looked homeless, some like bankers. I spied Dan in his suit and bumped into him aggressively while chewing on a sample that the immigrant woman had called “Chicken Buffalo.” I was sure she’d misspoke, but it didn’t take like a Buffalo Chicken Wing sandwich. Dan had ordered the Chicken Philly sandwich, and when I looked at the menu, the immigrant woman was vindicated – Chicken Buffalo. Almost immediately his sandwich was ready, and my eyes bulged at how huge it was. I immediately ordered one.
The story of Charley’s is inspiring. A junior at OSU borrowed his mom’s life savings and opened his first restaurant, and twenty years later there are 200 or something around the world. Inspiring and stupid – I would never gamble like that, either as a son or mother.
The sandwiches are prepared quickly. The fries were soggy and unimpressive, almost cardboardlike. The first bite of my sandwich was not too good, but as I kept eating it kept getting better. The chicken was a bit tough, but the lettuce was fresh and the tomatoes were some of the best I’ve ever had in restaurant food, much less fast food – very red and unusually tasty. The server had slathered mayonnaise on it, which made it fatty-tasting.
Eating it while overlooking the crooked river, I thought of Woody Allen’s “Love and Death.” There's a scene where Napoleon has his chefs create a pastry good enough to bear his name and compete with the freshly-emerged “Beef Wellington.” In our world there are Philly cheesesteaks, California rolls, boston beans, New England clam chowder, Kentucky Fried Chicken, Maryland Fried Chicken, Chicago and New York pizza and probably dozens more I can’t think of. Will we ever have anything besides the Steamer? We need something to bear our name. Cleveland Brownies, for example, or a “Burning River” shot of cinnamon liqueur and tequila, lit or unlit. Instead of having a contest to determine what it is, though, it has to emerge organically. Every independently owned restaurant in Cleveland should produce a “Cleveland” food and, in twenty years, something will emerge as the Cleveland food.
I finished in two portions. The sandwich, at the end was phenomenal, and weighed in my stomach for the rest of the day. Cleveland food, though – I’m still thinking about what it can be. I'm pretty sure, thought, that I will not be borrowing my mom's life savings to start my own restaurant.
Monday, October 29, 2007
Cleveland, OH 44106
Bite: Don't mix what you don't understand.
By Beau Cadiyo
I grade friends on multiple scales. Two are closeness (i.e., knowing a little or a lot about each other) and goodness (i.e., friendship based on similarities and mutual respect, not circumstances or closeness). You don’t need to be close to be a good friend; I prefer good friends over close, and my best friends are good and close. Bob was a good friend. I liked and respected him a great deal, but there was always a barrier up to getting too close.
We both had some free time and he suggested the diner. We got a back corner table, which I think is always a symbol of power – you can see everything that goes on if you’re the one with your back to the wall. Chicago establishments used to do the same for Al Capone. Diners not so well-respected included professors and a student couple I knew who conversed intimately over their retro table. The décor, though contrived, projected an impressive authenticity. It wasn’t a bad thing in this situation but if they’d gone any less than whole-hog on, it would have been a disaster.
I had a cheese Spartan Stack. I appreciate the concept of fries on a sandwich. It’s cute, and I might have let it slip were it not for the fact that the coleslaw was also on the sandwich. Imagine pouring red wine on a steak and telling the diner that it will cleanse the palate while you’re eating. Coleslaw goes ON THE SIDE, IN A MINIATURE BOWL. If they’d put the sandwich, fries and coleslaw separately on a plate I think it might have been very, very good. But.
After lunch we sat around. Bob told me about his children, and how he was writing books, and the things he would never forget but didn't quite know how to remember. I ran business ideas by him and talked about fighting blind people. We moved a little more toward the closeness quadrant. An attorney I work with told me that at her first clerkship, a partner made her call all the partners by their first names so that she quickly established herself as an equal. I don’t know that I’ll ever feel comfortable enough to call him “Bob” in person – face to face, he’ll always be Professor Lawry. But going toward close with a good person and a good friend is rare and special, and I’ll always be thankful for that lunch, even if the sandwich was disappointing.
Monday, October 15, 2007
Painesville, OH 44077
Bite: Worth the trip to Painesville.
by Beau Cadiyo
Aesthetically, DC’s is a dismal failure. Patrons sit at what appears to be old church café furniture. Thrift store paintings decorate the walls, with small little league awards distributed in a seeming random manner. There is poor lighting, an awkward front door, and, in the back, a large, unlit deli freezer with suspicious few old-looking cakes inside.
Luckily we were not put off by the appearance. DC’s serves breakfast all day, so Gary got a make-your-own omelet and Greg got a breakfast sandwich. Shelly went with biscuits and gravy, and I got a fried perch sandwich with a side of biscuits and gravy.
The long, long, long wait was well worth it. DC’s fried perch sandwich was rather unfulfilling. Two fried pieces of fish were placed on a piece of lettuce, a tomato and put inside a rather dull hamburger bun, with relish-tasting tartar sauce on the side. However, it all tasted fresh – the fish was not fatty or greasy, the breading was crisp, the lettuce was crunchy and you could actually taste the tomato. The French fries were fresh-cut, and while perhaps a little soggy were not overly-salted.
It was the biscuits and gravy which stole the show. The biscuits were warm, crisp on the outside and soft on the inside. The gravy was served in a bowl on the side, and looked suspiciously like grits – a mass of mash, mixed with sausage bits, in tablespoons of oil. However, mixed, it was heavenly – while not, perhaps, traditional gravy, the waitress explained that it was made like normal gravy and separated because of the ingredients; the chef made it up special. It was smooth, not fatty-tasting, and not too runny. The sausage, liquid and biscuits created a heterogeneous mixture, allowing the diner to push parts together and cut the biscuits with a fork.
While I love biscuits and gravy in general, I now realize what has been long with it for so long – it’s like living with poor eyesight for your whole life and, upon putting on correct-prescription glasses at 33, seeing what things actually look like – and realizing you’ve had a problem. These are worth the trip to Painesville alone, but when you get there, don’t be put off by the interior decorating. Judge DC’s for the food and the surroundings will cease to matter.
Cleveland Heights, OH 44106
By Edward Sandwichhands
Ambiance is the word. Waterfalls, Japanese maples, lavender, well dressed Clevelanders, and sheer exuberance. When I first walked into Nighttown I was positive that I was at the wrong place. You just get the feeling that you’ve stumbled into a private party and you are underdressed. It was exactly like Wedding Crashers except for the fact that it was almost nothing like that and that movie is absolutely terrible.
The highlight of my meal had to be the bangers and mash. My guess is that these bangers and mash were better than any served in tyrannical England. The cabbage was not overcooked, the potatoes were well seasoned, and the sausage reminded me of breakfast at a greasy truck stop. The dish was extremely well presented with green onions and a light dressing that helped to sweeten the cabbage. I think the bangers and mash were so good that I was bound to be disappointed by my grilled chicken sandwich. Although adorned with Canadian bacon and Swiss cheese, the sandwich was boring. When a sandwich makes you excited to take another bite of your pickle you know something is wrong. If you go to Nighttown I recommend you go to check out the scenery. I promise waterfalls, waitresses wearing neckties on their heads, 30 something’s ignoring each other at lunch while they talk on their cell phones, and a bunch of people who dress better than the cast of CSI Miami.
By Beau Cadiyo
It sounds cheesy, but the hostess made the trip to our table sensuous. We followed her outside to the patio, past dividers and next to a small waterfall, framed by Japanese maples, lavender and hanging flowers, all the while swaying her hips and looking back in a way I thought was suggestive but Ed blew off as a normal reaction to his raw animal sexuality. After we sat down we realized that the average age of the other patrons hovered somewhere in the fifties, and except for us everyone was in at least khakis and a polo shirt. It was a quality establishment, and we expected the same from the sandwiches.
We ordered bangers and mash as an appetizer. Cabbage, mixed with green onions and a salty sauce, lay under two scoops of fluffy, delicate mashed potatoes, and two sausages leaned casually against the pile. The sausages were crispy on the outside, tender on the inside, and willingly yielded to a very dull knife. We had to look at the menu to determine that the cabbage was not some exotic green. The potatoes were finely mashed and buttered and slid into my mouth, dissolving completely under pressure from my tongue.
I had the crab cake sandwich, which came with a side of fries and a pickle. The crab cake was served on an average bun, a zig-zag of some unidentifiable sauce spread on it. Two slices of tomato and a piece of lettuce lay unenthusiastically on the side. Biting into it, the crab cake squished apart; the bite mark left a window into interconnected crab fibers, reminding me of a summer spent near the docks in Maryland, watching Vietnamese immigrant women pull crabs apart to make patties. Entire, the pieces all formed a nice sandwich, but not a spectacular one, which I would have expected from the establishment. The waitress actually asked us if we wanted ketchup for our mediocre fries, and returned later with a slightly dusty unopened bottle of Heinz. Ed suggested that perhaps we were the only people to use ketchup in the entire establishment. It wasn't for my sandwiches, mind - it was for the fries, although in retrospect it might have done the crab cakes good. But we felt a bit like it was a blunder. Note to self: on job interviews, no sauces. Finally, the lack of coleslaw disappointed me.
Still, there’s something sexy about Nighttown. It’s not the hostess, really, or the waitress with the pink tie wrapped around her forehead and rouge on her cheeks, or the cougars one table over talking obnoxiously on their cell phones to other people and obviously reacting again to Ed’s animal magnetism. We were there on a late summer afternoon, but the club held the promise of dark evenings, smoky rooms, drinks, chatter and horns – magic, really. If only their sandwiches delivered as much.
Cleveland, OH 44106
Bite: Best veggie burger and fries I've had.
by Beau Cadiyo
One of my pet peeves is people who talk on their cell phones in the library. If it were up to me, they would all be suddenly struck by severe nut allergies while hiking miles and miles from civilization, their throats constricting horrifically, and just before they black out from a lack of oxygen a forest fire would engulf them, leaving their suffocated bodies charred beyond recognition. Their small, immature minds cannot grasp the concept of letting a call go to voicemail. It's really quite pathetic. It was after correcting an unfortunately overweight girl for this offense that I realized I was almost late for lunch at That Place with Dave. I was in an agitated state of my own making; it was a relief to escape the library for business.
My mentor, Tom, recently sent me an email saying that most business happens best over lunch, not at meetings or conferences or golf courses. “Eating is the most intimate thing you can do with your clothes on,” was how my college literature advisor put it. This was not an exception. I ordered a veggie burger with cheddar and extra fries; Dave got a regular burger. That Place was loud and crowded, or I’m going deaf; the waiter, however, was calm and pleasant, and we were served promptly – but not so promptly that we didn’t accomplish a mind meld and form, from exploding synapses and bursts of absurdly doable eurekas, the next new important e-business.
The veggie burger was amazing. A learned and distinguished friend of mine had to have her boyfriend taste her veggie burger because she wasn’t sure it was not meat. The portabellas are perfectly packed into patties and cooked; the buns are not cheap, and the tomatoes and lettuce taste fresh. The extra fries did a lot to fill my belly. Growing up, I despised coleslaw. The coleslaw at That Place is about the best I’ve ever had.
Upon returning to the library I was in a much better mood than when I’d left. However, a 2L started gossiping loudly with the girl who works in the computer lab about some inconsequential matter. I often wonder why girls talk about so many things that even they don’t seem to care about much. Well-fed, however, it didn't bother me all that much.
Bite: Big promise, small delivery.
by Beau Cadiyo
Terminally cool, the proprietor said that my friends weren’t there, but I should sit down. The first thing I noticed was that the stools all had three legs. It’s funny what you remember: in ancient Greece, three-legged chairs were apparently common because three legs don’t wobble. Four legs are supposed to be the symbol of some sort of quality craftsmanship. Second, my Boylan’s Orange Soda was delicious (and reminded me of YouTube’s Fake David Blaine #2).
That was sadly the high point of the trip. When Jen and Tom arrived and we sat down at a proper table, we found the menu long and confusing. The groupings do not correspond with the numbers; thus, if you tell someone “I’m getting 53,” there is a good chance that “53” is near neither “52” or “54.” I initially liked mine (#33), enjoying the softness of the smoked salmon and the spice of the wasabi cucumbers, until Jen asked me how fresh the bagel tasted. I then realized that it didn’t taste fresh at all, but store-bought, frozen, thawed, not even toasted to give it some crispness or semblance of recent boiling/baking. Tom noted that sometimes restaurants propose a spin that doesn’t really work with food. For example, one might try to freshen up PB&J with tomatoes. He got a tuna salad sandwich which had sesame seeds; after deliberating he decided that the seeds worked. For me, if you have to deliberate, it doesn’t work. Jen got something with eggplant which she found lacking; after a while she realized that the cheese was soft. She wanted a harder, firmer, chewier cheese, a cheese of substance. She didn’t even touch the flaccid, probably store-bought pickle.
Done and mostly disappointed, we talked art. The pieces on the wall were interesting, but somewhat forgettable; the wall itself was intriguing, with what appeared to be old boards inserted between the bricks. I proposed that true art only occurs in the face of its opposition; Jen argued that seeds can’t grow in the desert; Tom pointed out that every seed is different. It’s all a matter of figuring out what works and what doesn’t, and that requires extensive experimentation. There’s promise in La Bodega, but they’re going to have to keep trying.
Tuesday, September 25, 2007
Cleveland, OH 44114
Bite: This is the best of Cleveland in every way.
By Beau Cadiyo
After Ed and I had waited on the sidewalk for fifteen minutes we found out that there are two lines at Slyman’s: one for takeout and one for sit-down. The siren-song of waiting and smoking outside had caught us; we had been in the former. A little embarrassed, we walked in and took seats at the counter, where a woman large in both body and personality shoved menus, drinks and utensils at us.
Slymans, busy, is a feast for the eyes. The other waiting patrons represented a cross-section of Cleveland, all colors, shapes, ages and economic levels. Ed noted that it seemed like they were united in their search for excellent food. The mechanical corned-beef slicer becomes hypnotic if you stare at it for long enough: slabs of meat are thrown on and gravity pulls them into the blade, resulting in a pile which is constantly diminished and replenished. I’m sure there is a Greek myth to which I could compare it. The “everything Three Stooges” décor is carefully, lovingly arranged – it’s overwhelming but not tacky. Finally, watching the staff cooking and arranging and serving and charging as a unit is like watching world-class choreography. They looked so busy producing greatness that they didn’t even stop to exhibit justifiable pride in their work. I wish I’d had a camera.
When our sandwiches arrived, a token slice of Swiss cheese and two slices of rye bread garnished the massive, warm, leaning twin towers of corned beef on my plate. We’d earlier agreed to split our sandwiches; I here forgo describing the corned beef as I don't believe I could do such an exquisite experience justice. I inhaled my half and started in on half of Ed’s BBQ Beef sandwich. It was a little too vinegary, and Ed had made the near-fatal mistake of ordering white bread, but otherwise it was tastier than most. The fries were excellent – they’d been frozen, but they’d also been cooked perfectly, or as well as I’ve ever had. We mixed them first with ketchup, then with an unidentifiable pink sauce which tasted like mayonnaise mixed with relish for texture. It, like everything, was amazing.
At 2:00 p.m. we stood in line to pay, then squeezed through the door past patrons, lined up to the sidewalk, waiting for take-out. When we got to Chester and 105th, we both felt like we’d been on an odyssey longer than an hour and a half. At 4:30, halfway through my swim, I burped mid-stroke and realized that mere hours earlier I had truly tasted excellence.
Parma, OH 44129
By Edward Sandwichhands
Cleveland is a smelly place – a smelly, smelly place. When I moved here I blamed the smell on the lake. But the stench isn’t localized, it follows you. It’s in your dresser when you go to put on your morning clothes – and it crawls into bed with you each night.
Every year Cleveland has this wonderful event called “Taste of Cleveland.” It costs five dollars to get in, the food is overpriced, and it’s located right by the smelly lake. About thirty local restaurants attend this event and serve some of the finest sandwiches this side of Akron.
I attended “Taste of Cleveland” with several close friends. My friends and I were filling our time with comfort food until Nathan arrived on the 9:30 pm Greyhound from Toledo. The Greyhound station is possibly one of the smelliest places in America, especially when the unique smell is compounded with Cleveland’s own. If I was going to make it through a night of horrifying smells and another morning of crippling loneliness, I would have to eat.
I knew that only a hearty sandwich of massive proportions could ease my worries and satiate my hunger. The Germans are a hearty people, who consume all of their traditional foods with mustard and sauerkraut. When the fine employees of ‘Das Schnitzel Haus’ asked me if I would like sauerkraut and mustard on my Schnitzel sandwich I could hardly refuse. Wiener schnitzel is the type of Schnitzel most commonly served in Austria. It consists of thin veal coated in bread crumbs and deep fried. Americans tend to think of Wiener schnitzel as being some type of extravagant hot dog, but really it’s very similar to veal parmesan – minus the parmesan. The schnitzel was delicious. Served on a thick roll and covered in whole grain mustard and sauerkraut - a simple, but filling sandwich. In one bite I felt happy, German, and a little smelly. Despite my predisposition toward taking pleasure in the little things, no sandwich could help me cope with the fact that I would soon be scouring a Greyhound station for my friend in hopes that he hadn’t been murdered or urinated on.
Monday, September 24, 2007
Solon, Ohio 44139
By Hammond T. Amato
Organic Energy was the only thing keeping the boxy strip mall on Miles road from seeming dark and looming as we drove up after dusk. The high ceilings and straight walls of new plazas typically turn me off, but inside, the store managed a welcoming atmosphere with a few big comfortable couches, a wall lined with two-seater square tables, and a coffee table covered with cooking magazines and books about farming and food politics.
Beau and I started off with shots of wheatgrass. Never having had one before, it tickled me to have a shooter of lawn juice put in front of me like tequila, my chaser a slice of orange. Warned otherwise, I didn’t find the taste repulsive, though I wouldn’t substitute it for my morning cereal. I read the extensive list of juices, food and smoothies on the menu board behind the counter, getting caught up in the names (the Ninja noodle bowl, for example, and the salad simply called "Big"). Picky veggie eaters such as me will appreciate house-made veggie burgers, tempeh, and hummus, options that avoid the ubiquitous cheesy alternative to meat.
I thought very seriously about having a simple almond-butter sandwich, but opted for something more complex. I had the #4 on ciabatta bread. Over the low counter, I chatted with one of the two workers as he spread pesto sauce and hummus and arranged sun-dried tomatoes, slices of tempeh and strips of marinated mushrooms. Beau and I settled on a long couch while our dinners toasted, and in a moment we received both of our sandwiches in little plastic baskets, accented by a pickle spear and, to my delight, a little container of quinoa salad. What other restaurants think to serve such a quirky grain?
The best thing about my meal was the fact that it managed to be crisp despite the spreads lining the bread. It's all too easy to create a soggy panini, and I'd like to thank OE for toasting my supper without soaking it. The pleasure of crunchy food added to the evening, although ultimately my meal only simply satisfied. I certainly enjoyed it, as I tend to enjoy the flavors of hummus and tempeh no matter what, but I wish that the pesto had been spicier.
Even though prices exceeded moderation- seven dollars for a sandwich, not counting bottled water and wheatgrass- I’ll go back. I liked the store, lit by charming hanging lamps, and I liked the menu, peppered with interesting ingredients and lots of build-it-yourself options. The people manning the operation that night weren't pushy about us leaving as they began to close around us; we were treated with a smile right up to our exit. Despite its home in a rather common shopping complex, Organic Energy has some good vibes (and good sandwiches) to share.
Sunday, September 23, 2007
By K. Sediya
Only a few tables were open on Saturday afternoon at Melt, and only one on the patio. Of course, choosing the patio meant sacrificing the ambiance including random cartoons on various televisions, Cleveland memorabilia- particularly related to the Tribe- and the glowing plastic Dracula statute statue above the bar. The patio, in contrast, lacked décor and the tables were strangely and sparsely arranged, producing a slightly sterile and empty feeling. The waitress was almost cartoonish because of her stature (at least 6’2”) and un-worldly large breasts. Still, neither she, nor the sing-along oldies music, nor the stunning weather, came close to matching all of the stimuli inside of the restaurant.
We started with fried tofu. As a 16-year vegetarian I consider myself a tofu connoisseur and “fried” is one of my favorite presentations. The crunchy outside pleasantly contrasted to the soft, but not gelatinous, inside. The tofu entirely absorbed the flavor of the BBQ sauce, which was tasty- thick and slightly sweet with a very mild zing- though would not win any awards for creativity. Still, the appetizer was a satisfying “tide-me-over” after a long day of photographing on the West Side.
When the gargantuan sandwiches arrived, accompanied by a generous portion of French fries and coleslaw, it became apparent that the tide-me-over was unnecessary. First, my family believes that cooking French fries is an art. The fries at Melt were crispy on the outside without being burnt and would have more than passed muster at our dinner table in their generous portions. Second, the flavors of the Mushroom Melt blended flawlessly. The sweetness of the caramelized onion nicely complemented the provolone and portabellas. However, the Spinach Pie sandwich was less satisfying. The feta did not melt very well, so the sandwich, including spinach, roasted red peppers and grilled onions, fell apart and the flavors and textures seemed like separate entities rather than cohesive parts of a whole.
Though I would happily return and re-order the Mushroom Melt, the appeal of this typically Lakewood joint- chock-full of hipsters, heavily tattooed punk rockers, middle class families (probably of Irish-American descent), and the occasional neighborhood jock- is not the gourmet food. Rather, it’s the nostalgia that the restaurant evokes from the grilled cheese sandwiches, a favorite food from childhood, to the retro album cover menus and the historical Cleveland Decor. The past often seems better in hindsight, doesn’t it?
Thursday, August 23, 2007
Cleveland OH 44118
By Edward Sandwichhands
Occasionally a sandwich is good. Sometimes it is too good. Jimmy O’Neil’s is a pretty great place. Good service, great food, and they have all sorts of old time trash up on the walls (in case that happens to be your thing.) If I had ever been to Ireland I’m sure it would be a lot like that. Before ordering food our hearts were swept away by a delicious basket of warm bread. I enjoyed the whole grain variety; it tasted really rustic, like Ireland (which I’ve never been to). I had the buffalo chicken sandwich because I’m a sucker for anything involving copious amounts of hot sauce. It was fantastic. I find that most places are able to cover a chicken breast in hot sauce and serve it up pretty well, but I genuinely appreciated the quality of the chicken as well as the bun it was served on – I imagine they would settle for nothing less in Ireland. For those with more refined tastes Jimmy O’Neil’s offers a variety of delicious sandwiches including a portabella mushroom Reuben. The prospect of a Reuben lacking in corned beef both horrified and amazed me. I’m sure if I’d ever been to Ireland I’d have stronger feelings on the subject.
Monday, July 23, 2007
Cleveland, Ohio 44130
by Beau Cadiyo
We’d just gotten out of a go-karting session and there was a giddiness present of otherwise entirely responsible people who had just played hooky for the first time in months. Youth, we were learning, really is wasted on the young. We are apparently in the beginning stages of trying to hold on to it.
As if to drive the point home, Noreen, the 45-ish smiling waitress, arrived with old sailor tattoos on both forearms. The smeared ink implied that she’d gotten them when she was an immortal 17-year-old. I silently wondered if the girls and Asim were already using wrinkle creams.
First, the coleslaw arrived independently as an appetizer. Asim said, “That’s stupid,” and he was correct. It was mayonnaise-heavy and the cabbage was too finely shredded –more confetti than tickertape.
The bread on my tuna melt was well buttered, but the rye was almost entirely masked by salt from an unidentifiable source. The tuna was lightly mayonnaised, with celery flecks here and there, and they used two different types of cheese. However, the cheese was pre-packaged and had not been exposed to enough heat to alter the indentations of the plastic wrapping. The wilted pickle slices, crinkle-cut, lazed on the plate; the “Famous” onion rings may have been famous, but it wasn’t for being exceptional. The highlight was the elbow straw provided for my Wild Cherry Pepsi, with the pleasant service coming in a close second.
Asim, Shelly and Emily enjoyed their Big Boys, although Shelly’s didn’t come with special sauce ON the burger whereas Asim’s did. She made a little bit of a fuss out of it, then backed off; I realized that it was the second time I got the distinct impression that she, a black woman, received inferior service to someone else in the party. The immediate tendency was to blame racism, but Asim is Muslim, and in this America I’d expect him to be treated even more poorly. Brandy’s chicken sandwich arrived, and really was “Beyond the Bun.” The gimmick was a clever idea, but perhaps a bit impractical for eating with one’s hands. It did, however, draw attention away from the earlier problem.
In the beginning, it felt extremely teenage, all six of us packed around the table, with toddler’s mazes, coloring pictures and cheap crayons cheerfully provided by the hostess (and Sharpie markers found in Emily’s purse). In the end, when we stood up, we were six more law students with reasonably certain, bright futures, leaving behind pictures carefully colored, shaded even, mazes completed, bills paid.
Sunday, July 22, 2007
Middleburg Heights, OH 44130
Bite: for cheese like plastic, you can't beat Dunkin'.
by Beau Cadiyo
Mike called Brett his girlfriend, but said she was a player and didn’t want to commit to any concrete description of their relationship. They’d jointly planned the trip and booked the hotel room that eight of us crowded into. We got ice and started drinking there, and then we went to the Irish festival. By midnight Brett and Mike weren’t talking, Georgette had picked up a musician and I’d picked up nothing, even though there were plenty of pretty, belligerently drunk girls around. At 12:30 a.m. Brett and I were sitting on the curb outside the hotel. She was crying, and Mike was standing thirty yards away with everyone else, waiting for her to go inside so he could walk with them to a bar. I half expected him to find some Englishmen to festa.
Brett, Bill and I all ended up at Dunkin Donuts the next morning. The blueberry bagel with egg and cheese wasn’t as good as at Lucky’s, but it had a plastic-chemical quality that I liked – it wasn’t good, but it was satisfying in a way that might be admired only in America. The egg portion was thin and flecked with pepper (I think); the cheese was fake, but melted well, squeezing up through the bagel hole and solidifying uncomfortably on my right forefinger. When I peeled it off it left a thin, greasy layer which mostly wiped off on my sock, but a bit lingered in the crack between my nail and skin. For a moment I thought that I should lick my finger to get it off, but that would have been a little too desperate, so I left it. The bagel itself smelled (and tasted) so strongly of blueberries that Brett asked about it from the front seat. My hazelnut coffee was well-flavored but a bit too sweet, and a lot too hot. I ended up dumping it out two hours later.
We listened to a live CD made by one of the “Irish” bands we’d seen the night before and laughed at the jokes they apparently told every show. When Brett dropped us off she was clearly disturbed again. They were both wonderful people. We all could have had such a good time together. It was pretty to think so, anyway.
Friday, July 6, 2007
Bite: Like the 1960s: so much promise, so much disappointment.
by Beau Cadiyo
Prevented from ordering sandwiches at the Feve, which doesn’t serve weekend lunch until 3 p.m., Lara talked us through a graceful exit and we continued down the street. A small sign caught our eye, and we followed it between two buildings and out into an oppressively hot parking lot, bearing right. Through the “market,” which was shelves of carefully arranged products, and over a sneeze-guarded fridge, a youngish woman took our orders, armpit hair sprouting proudly. She was very pleasant, wanting to make sure that she knew where we were sitting so she could find us.
Outside, we found the picnic table too hot to sit at. Inside, we found Zen Blocks, a non-competitive game from the 1960s, which proved too difficult to play casually. The waitress brought our drinks as we were playing backgammon. My iced chai came in a mason jar, which pleased me. I generally approve of this brand of utilitarianism. Then, when she brought my water, it was in a mason jar with a drinking handle, which set my jaw. Something about it struck me as inherently poseur-ish. It was an “authentic” touch, a tromp de l’oeil, a façade of hippiness that middle-aged suburban women who had no intention of giving up their SUVs but wanted to “experience” Oberlin would approve of excitedly while they misremembered the glory of the past. My lips thinned in indignation. Then, Lara realized that she lost her phone somewhere when we were taking pictures and couldn’t concentrate.
The sandwiches arrived fifteen minutes after I asked after them – they took so long that Lara suggested they might be making fresh cheese. Idea: pesto grilled cheese with veggies, Lara’s with chips, mine with salad. Reality: small slices of bread, slightly stuffed with pesto, cheese, tomato, and cucumber, and apparently lightly grilled, although the bottoms of both of our sandwiches seemed soaked through with some unidentifiable oily liquid. My salad was outstanding – sunflower seeds, greens and house vinaigrette. After waiting so long, hunger was a good spice, but eating at the back of our minds was that we waited so long for so little.
I paid up and we went from the market into the parking lot, then back through Oberlin to look for Lara’s phone. Something felt oppressively, unpleasantly unsatisfying, but we wanted to be positive about the experience. In the end, like the 1960s, there was much promise and so, so much disappointment.
Saturday, June 30, 2007
Wade Park Wednesdays
11609 Corlett Ave
Cleveland, OH 44105
Bite: get ready to bend over and take it.
by Beau Cadiyo
We stepped over the yellow chain barrier and seized an empty table in the back corner of the beer garden, which gave the impression of being more adult than the surrounding area. It seemed like a small version of one of Gatsby’s early parties, with groups of people intricately connected to each other in ways we couldn’t know. Ed had just broken up with his girlfriend, so we talked about that as we ogled three girls in spring skirts, aloof and confident, at the next table over. Two people asked to sit with us, and then their three friends joined them. Like vultures, they hovered over us, waiting for us to leave, spreading themselves around the table. When Emily, Kyle, Laura and Mike arrived and agreed to hold our chairs, Ed and I got up to get food.
Ed’s text – and I quote – had promised “live music lots of sandwiches and Sarah Duffy.” It was 33% wrong. Only two “sandwiches” were available from the same stand: a $7 Turkey Croissant and a $6 Hamburger. Inexplicably Croissant-less, they offered bread instead. The sandwich came with chips and soda; Lou asked if he could trade the chips for a brownie, but was denied by the old woman; a brownie was an extra $1.25. The man under the tent, dreadlocks held back by a bandana, energetically put my sandwich and Lou’s hamburger in cardboard boats, made sure we got our small Snyder’s of Berlin chips, let us choose either cans of Strawberry/Cherry or Orange Cotton Club soda and asked for $13. In parting, he asked about the Cavs; I said that perhaps they should just bend over and take it.
Which is what we did. The sandwich had overwhelming tones of Giant Eagle Wheat Bread and mayonnaise, generously scooped from Ziploc Tupperware. The two slices of processed turkey and crunchy tomato were subtle complementary notes. The chips were thin slivers, heavily salted and oiled, with little flavor to speak of, and the soda tasted like Hi-C, heavily diluted with over-carbonated water.
However, most of the vultures had left, and we were firmly in control of the table. A pug ran over and wanted to play; little children were chastised for ripping up grass and throwing it in each others’ hair. The reggae band played for what must have been three hours. When I left, the scene had the “fade to black” quality of an old movie; people would always be drawn to East Egg and West Egg, but my directions were to move on.
Thursday, June 28, 2007
Cleveland, OH 44110
By Edward Sandwichhands
The Beachland Ballroom is an old Croatian social club. It smells like a Phish concert, but you know it isn’t because everyone is way too well dressed. My jeans are never tight enough, my shirt is never cool enough, and when I am there for a show I just don’t think I’ll ever be pretty again.
At the bar you have your choice of grilled cheese, a hamburger, and a deep friend peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Deep fried sandwiches are actually the reason my family decided to come to this country. Genetically, I can’t pass up an opportunity to have a complete stranger needlessly deep fry food for my consumption. The sandwich complimented my Pabst tall boy well, but would have been better suited as a dessert. It was very rich and similar to a fried donut. They used crunchy peanut butter, which added a unique texture to the deep-fried mass of oil and bread staring me in the thighs. Just kidding. I don’t care what my thighs look like – that’d be ridiculous.
After the sandwiches we saw “The National.” It was an amazing show. Unlike most other shows at the Beachland, we were able to get up to the stage. After the show I ran into an old neighbor named Vinny. Last I had heard Vinny had gone insane and had to move back in with his parents. I guess he pulled himself together enough to make the show. That’s why the Beachland is so great. We drown our sorrows in music, beer, and comfort food trying to pretend that we aren’t crazy as shit.
Tuesday, June 19, 2007
South Euclid, OH 44121-4017
by Beau Cadiyo
When I was four I was sitting in my dad’s new office. My whole family worked for him – I stuffed envelopes for a penny per. My mom asked him about dinner plans; he said, “What about M-C-D-” and I shouted, “Yeah!” He was surprised; it turned out “McDonald’s” was the first word I knew how to spell. I got a hamburger as a reward.
My parents were proud; 23 years later, most would be appalled. The obesity epidemic has destroyed one of the great American experiences: fast food. A halcyon romanticization of the past, perhaps, but I bet that at one time Americans considered McDonald’s a luxury to be taken in moderation. Now, many see only Morgan Spurlock’s excess and react with disgust at how unhealthy the country is. For me, the golden arches remind me of an Anaheim McDonald’s where, holding my 16-year-old hand, Catherine Grace Bell ordered a cheeseburger without the meat and I instantly became a vegetarian. Well, pesco.
Mayfield McDonald’s is wonderfully well-windowed; the view compels consideration of the car-centric culture which grew up with drive-thrus. The lighting is not overwhelmingly bright, and the plants, piped music and uniformed staff add nostalgia. The menu is different from what I remember – the salad options almost made me feel more guilty for being there, not happy that their menu now reflects society’s healthy desires.
My fish sandwich was just like I remembered them, if slightly fishier. My pessimism returned and made me think their chemists overcompensated. The small fries were crisp, the big ones almost soggy, the barbecue and sweet and sour sauce recipes apparently unchanged. The chocolate shake may have been engineered to balance the saltiness perfectly, and to make me burp.
Granted, the patrons next to me were massively overweight. However, watching them laugh made me think that while perhaps fat people should watch what they eat, at least they still understand the magic of a happy meal. Or four in one sitting, as the case may be.
Monday, June 11, 2007
Cleveland, OH 44118
By Edward Sandwichhands
Loneliness is a dish best served on two pieces of bread – with a pickle. Panini’s on Coventry is possibly the worst place I’ve ever been. Every time I go there I die – and I am reborn in a puddle of vomit. This time it was different and it was personal. I was there to get sandwiches.
I just can’t go inside Panini’s on Coventry. I think of Panini’s patio as a safe-haven - the last vestige of hope in an otherwise Shitville-Ohio-Yuppie-Frat-Boy-Pull-the-Fucking-Trigger-Already-Bar. So we ate on the patio, despite the protests of a Carol Rubin and a mid-summer chill in the air.
My original plan was to get the cheapest sandwich on the menu because I’m poor as hell. I mean I have some money, but seriously – I’m poor as hell. I went with the patty melt. Rye bread, beef, onions, butter, and Swiss cheese. That’s how I do. The sandwich was great. I always eat the fries first. I thought they were fine. The other people I was with complained that they were cold and undercooked. What the fuck are fries anyhow? Filler. Needless Filler. That’s kind of what Panini’s is all about.
A patty melt is basically a hamburger on bread. If Panini’s had screwed it up I probably would have punched the bartender in the face. However, the sandwich was fine. About 4 hours later I picked a rye seed out of a molar in the upper-left part of my mouth. It reminded me of a satisfying dinner and a bar that makes me think it might be cool to start hanging out at home.
Monday, May 28, 2007
By Beau Cadiyo
I’d walked in worried I wouldn’t recognize her, but Kate wore the same expectation on her face and when I smiled we did recognize each other and things became easier. She moved us to the big plush chairs near the front; the line was too long and slow-moving, so rather than wait we started planning. She’d already gotten coffee.
When the line was smaller, I walked up and ordered. Flummoxed by the choice of bagels on which I could have my eggs and cheese, I chose blueberry; the friendly waitress said, “Fuck it, it’s Saturday, we’re crazy,” and got me a medium cup of coffee. She made me specify the size, but it wasn’t clear that there was any difference between the cups. Next to the cream and sugar bar I overheard a mother and two teenage girls lamenting the exchange rate with Britain; upon returning to my chair, two men – one a video artist who walked with a cane – talked loudly and excitedly about what they’d done and would do real soon, and how amazing it would be.
The server had huge eyes; they stared at you excitedly, like a hippie camp counselor who was expecting great things of you and wanted to be encouraging and help you develop to someday be as enlightened as her. Annoying on one level, but I also didn't want to let her down.
The eggs she brought were not too wet, not too dry; not warm, but not prohibitively hot; not angel-cake fluffy, but not dense; not falling out of the sides, but not sparse. They would have pleased Goldilocks. The cheese played a minor role, sticking clammily to the eggs and sweating, but with the eggs, saltily contrasted with the sweet, fresh-tasting bagel. A single, probably organic, orange slice provided a small dessert.
Bernard, the video artist, broke in and asked us questions about what we were doing; Kate handled it without batting an eye. She’s professional. Sitting there, I felt very inadequate in the midst of so much potential.
Corner of West 25th and Lorain in the Ohio City Neighborhood
Bite: the perfect winter sandwich.
By Beau Cadiyo
Even in April, March ice was on the streets. Sonny, a friend from college who then became a Marine Corps officer, had just gotten back from Fallujah; we were hungover in a way that felt even and accomplished.
Sonny was so tense from the war that he wouldn’t sit with his back to a door, so dealing with the lottery-ball-like movements of the West Side Market must have required great self-discipline. I benedicted the fruit row and then we moved quickly through the vegetables; his shoulders were up and his head was down while I created a path through the muppies and hawkers. We lefted through the side aisle and crossed to the main hall.
There are two stalls, Franks Bratwurst and Franks II. Franks Bratwurst always has a line, and Franks II often looks abandoned. We headed for the latter, where the guy behind the counter jumped at the attention.
I got the regular with sauerkraut, Sonny got the Italian with mustard. There are no tables – one can walk up to the gallery and sit on long benches, but if you don’t want to find the stairs then the only flat surfaces are the tops of the trashcans. The bread was a lesson in staging; you shouldn’t have supporting characters who compete with the lead. Anything but bland would have detracted from the tender, spicy sausage, bursting but not dripping with flavor. Sonny’s was better and we got two more. Upon tossing the napkins under our table, the market began to feel almost Christmaslike, and we were the center – two old friends, bundled up in a high-ceilinged, busy market in the wintertime, with full, warm bellies, satisfied.