Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Just Like Mom’s

3030 Superior Ave E
Cleveland, OH 44114
(216) 685-5555

Bite: Crappy sandwich - AND I had to make it myself!

By Beau Cadiyo

Tom joked that we might be in physical danger by going to Just Like Mom’s. If so, it wasn’t because of the clientele: we were the only people there to begin with, and, for the reasons that follow, almost the only people there at the end.

Just Like Mom’s is set up strangely – there’s a place to order, and a bar, but the tables are set up in a wide hallway/lobby which leads to other businesses and a Pho restaurant. We tried to sit at the bar, but there was no place to put your feet under it and it smelled like a densely chlorinated pool. So we ordered and settled down at a table.

Like Sam Cooke’s Change, our food was a long time coming. I got the catfish sandwich and Tom got a Po Boy, with sides of sweet potatoes and mashed potatoes to share. When the waitress brought them out, they were in Styrofoam containers as if they were to-go, which, considering we’d been talking about environmental issues, was a bit annoying. Upon opening my box, I discovered two slices of sliced wheat-style bread. Underneath I found a very small cup of inedible coleslaw, two pieces of fried catfish and a small pile of fries, previously frozen and coated in seasoned salt. This was the second time in the last year where the sandwich was on store-bought sliced bread; it was the first time ever where the customer is expected to make the sandwich themselves. I might be wrong, but I didn't chalk it up to them making some sort of philosophical point about deconstruction. The fries were abysmal, the seasoned salt making them taste like badly manufactured chemicals. When I did put the sandwich together, it wasn’t half-bad – the catfish might have actually been quite nice. However, the bread was still annoying, and the complete lack of any vegetables (lettuce, tomatoes, pickles even) made me dislike it even more. The sweet potatoes were delicious – dripping in sweetness, and piping hot – but the mashed potatoes and gravy had more horrible seasoning and no discernible gravy.

Is this soul food, though? Is this the core, the essence, of a sandwich – the very roots? Have I strayed so far from the reality of Sandwich that I don’t even recognize a true sandwich anymore – that I’m culturally insensitive to a real, soulful sandwich in a place open until at least 4 a.m. every day? No – it was truly shitty food. But maybe for someone it is just like mom’s.

Just Like Mom's in Cleveland


Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Heck's Cafe

2927 Bridge Ave.
Cleveland, OH 44113
(216) 861-5464

By Edward Sandwichhands

I didn’t know what to think when I was told that we’d be dining at “Heck’s Café.” I originally thought that the establishment was called “Hex Café.” This brought to mind terrible visions of my Catholic upbringing and unleashed many repressed fears surrounding antiquated superstitions, the dark ages, and God’s ultimate plan. I kept quiet during the drive to the west side due to my fear of the rapture.

Today, God’s ultimate plan was for me to order the rouge burger. The burger was described as having bacon and Roquefort cheese dressing. I was pleasantly surprised when the burger arrived. It was well presented and topped with a heavy serving of perfectly prepared bacon and creamy Roquefort cheese. To me, bacon is well prepared when it is cooked but not very crispy. The bacon should still be a little soggy but not so fatty that it is hard to chew. Crispy bacon is for peasants. Peasants are given the lowest grades of meat because of their social status. When you eat low grade meat it must be scorched in order to help combat bacteria often found in peasant food like bull testicles or pigs feet. However, in this civilized age, anyone who chars their bacon is simply a fool who must have a problem with flavor.

I was hung-over and the burger was delicious. The meat was well prepared, the presentation was fantastic, and I think I’d enjoy almost anything covered in Roquefort cheese and bacon. The meal was served with flawless French fries, a pickle, and a personal ketchup bottle the size of my thumb. I found this gesture quaint but useless as I enjoy drowning my French fries in ketchup. The waitress must have suspected as much when she brought us an adult size ketchup bottle to compliment the ones that arrived on our plates.

Heck’s café impressed me with its sprawling floral décor, natural lighting, warm atmosphere, Latino music, and winning personality. While my meal did not help me to unpack my troubled past, it was certainly delicious and worth my drive to the west side of town. If I have a chance to go back, I’d love to try their Sacre Blue: a spinach, onion and mushroom sandwich with blue and American cheeses, served on sourdough. It sounds more innovative than Jesus.

Heck's Cafe in Cleveland


Sunday, January 13, 2008

Burger King, Continental Airlines 1645, The Tavern on Gray

Burger King #8533-C,
Cleveland Hopkins International Airport
Cleveland, Ohio

Bite: Surprisingly good for an airport BK.

Continental Airlines Flight 1645 from Cleveland, Ohio to Houston, Texas, on Dec. 15, 2007

Bite: The days of crappy airline food are NOT over.

The Tavern on Gray
1340 W. Gray
Houston, TX 77019

Bite: Worst beefy farts of my life, but well, well worth it.

by Beau Cadiyo

I was flying out to see my parents for the holidays, and my plan was to grab a hamburger at the airport. The pickings were slim at Hopkins, so I went with Burger King. The Whopper was grey, and on a flattened bun, but for $2.99 it wasn’t bad – the lettuce was good, the special sauce added a lot and the service was superb. I also appreciated the non-extortionate pricing which is so rare at the airport. Burger King: 3/5.

The plane boarded late, and then we waited almost an hour for people who were on incoming, delayed flights. Then there was de-icing. By the time we got out we were something like two hours late and I was surely going to miss my connecting flight. I was disappointed, but I tried to look on the bright side: I could work on research, due when I returned.

There was no bright side to the food served. I chose a turkey sandwich over ham. It was about the length of my forefinger and the mayonnaise was the most prominent taste in the whole piece. The Ruffles and the Milky Way did nothing for me, and even the apple juice tasted watered down and tawdry. I thought that the time of crappy airline food passed in the 1980s; apparently it’s the Continental Airlines norm. Continental: Godawful/5.

As expected, most of us missed our connecting flights, and Continental refused to give anyone hotel rooms because it was a “weather-related” delay. Luckily Brian, one of my great friends, lives in Houston and I met him at the downtown Hilton. We then went to a bar near his house. It was Texas: lots of wood, crap on the walls, rowdy men, stunning Latinas. We sat down at the bar. I ordered a cheeseburger and fries and we split a pitcher of some local beer.

The burger was amazing. It was the size of my outstretched hand, meaty, fatty and delicious. The cheese melded into the patty and the bun barely fit it all in; the lettuce was finely chopped and slid out a little but, with the sauces, was easily scooped up. The fries were well-cooked and heavily salted. The beer was heavy and tasted like eternal hope.

With sudden time to pause over the perfection, Brian and I talked about our recent relationships – the ones we’d been in and the one I’m in now. Two of the Latinas sidled up to the bar next to us. It was then, very very slightly buzzed, that I realized how much I liked my girlfriend. Later, though, I realized how glad I was that she wasn’t with me on that trip, because for the next 24 hours I had the worst beefy farts of my life. Tavern: 5/5.

Burger King in Avon

Tavern on Gray in Houston


Friday, January 11, 2008

Town Fryer

3859 Superior Ave E
Cleveland, OH 44114
(216) 426-9235

By D. John Horseradish

The proverbial hills and valleys of life do not only apply in the macro, life-long sense, but also in varying occurrences of any length: Patrick Swayze’s career peaking at Roadhouse, diving at Point Break, and the resurgence his of street cred in the 16-wheeler epic Black Dog; Interpol’s Turn On The Bright Lights’ fantastic first 5 songs, thereafter plummeting into the abyss following “Say Hello To the Angels”; my recent lunch at the Town Fryer.

We began our lunch with an order of mussels. I was unsure of our order. Considering the name of the establishment is entitled “The Town Fryer”, un-fried mussels did not immediately seem a logical option. We received a sizable mound of mussels (non-fried) capable of making Hunk Hogan envious, placed atop a bed of angel hair pasta. Any residual mussel fish taste was covered by a pleasant garlic butter sauce capable of masking the pungent taste of a late 19th century French prostitute. The dish worked exceptionally well and set the stage for a meal I was eagerly anticipating. The mussels would prove to be the meal’s first “hill,” and would quickly decline.

My entrée was the daily special – white bean chicken chili and grilled cheese samich (I am aware “samich” is not the proper spelling of “sandwich”, however I don’t care and will forever refuse to change my spelling). The white bean chili was surprisingly short on both chicken and spice. As it is a southern restaurant I expected the chili to be spicy, but it did not even require my asking for additional southern sweet tea. This turned out to be beneficial, as I’ve had better sweet tea at Chick-Fil-A. Lastly, the chili was exceptionally heavy on sour cream – difficult considering Midwest and Scandinavian love of all things butter and cream, but true nonetheless. A Grilled Cheese can be a beautiful thing, but not this samich – minimal toast, minimal cheese; the only things massive about this samich were the manliness of the person eating it and his level of disappointment.

Luckily this lunch parabola ends on a high peak. Just as Corey Feldman resurrected his career by becoming a “musician,” fried Oreos would resurrect our Town Fryer dining experience. If it is possible to eat an unpleasant fried Oreo, it’s possible The Killers will no longer cover legendary bands whose songs are twice as good as anything they’ve ever written. It’s impossible, but impossibility inspires my never ceasing search for the perfect samich combo.

Town Fryer in Cleveland