3030 Superior Ave E
Cleveland, OH 44114
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.