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.