Monday, February 18, 2008

Jimmy John’s

1827 Coventry Rd.
Cleveland Heights, OH 44118

Bite: Alternative image, mainstream taste.

by Beau Cadiyo

What is a gourmet sandwich, or even just a really good one? Is it fresh meat and Italian provolone with vine-ripe tomatoes? Is it crusty bread, home-made, stone-ground bread and mustard made by virgins in France? Or is it simply bread and filler wrapped in wax paper? It’s something I’ve only just recently started to ask myself. I’ve had some great sandwiches and some amazingly shitty ones. But why do I feel like sandwiches can be judged? It’s a mystery to me.

I’d been intrigued by Jimmy John’s ever since it opened on Coventry. I’d heard of it before, and when we started this blog people kept telling me to go there. Then, Frank Elkins told me it was horrible, so I didn’t. There were the times I walked past it after a summer night at Panini’s, or thought about it when ordering food for events (they cater and have “crazy fast” service), but it somehow stayed in business without my patronage.
Until Tuesday. First, we were the only ones eating there around 6 p.m. It is Stepford in appearance; perfect, non-specific 1950s-styling, lots of red and white and darkened eating areas compared to the kitchen, and clean – uncomfortably, stiflingly clean. Carefully ordered mayonnaise jars were arranged in perfect rows, “Hellmans” facing cheerily forward. All this contrasted with the presentation of the menu and the image they seemed to be going for – a frat-boy style, a little edgy, a little wild.

I got #12, the Beach Club, with a soda and some jalapeno chips. The name “beach club” made it sound fun and vacation-like. There was no choice of bread, which I found odd; it turned out to be some sort of faux-baguette, crustless and chewy. There were a lot of sprouts, a lot of lettuce, a few tomatoes, and a layer of turkey and cheese folded together on the bottom. It tasted fresh, but lacked originality; the description was intriguing, but in the end it was just another standard sandwich. The chips were the same: ever so slightly spicy, but certainly nothing you couldn’t give your Scandinavian grandmother in Nebraska who has subsisted solely on butter and cabbage and sausage for the last 85 years. And who doesn’t have teeth.

In the end, Jimmy John’s took a lot of things that might have been interesting and sanitized them, took away that spice, that bite. Can they make a good sandwich? Sure – certainly better and fresher-tasting than Subway, for example. I’m not sure it’s gourmet, though. For a quick eat, Jimmy John’s will satisfy you. If you’re looking for something that is a bit more revolutionary in substance rather than in form, go elsewhere.

Jimmy John's in Cleveland Heights

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Toujours Fresh

11321 Euclid Avenue
Cleveland, OH 44106

By Edward Sandwichhands

Sometimes a restaurant is just crummy. Toujours Fresh is one of those crummy restaurants. The entire process of dining at Toujours Fresh was unnerving, unsatisfying, and disappointing.

Toujour has a very basic selection of sandwiches, smoothies, and ice cream. The restaurant boasts that it serves “All American” cuisine. When I think of American cuisine I think burgers and French fries. Toujours serves neither of these staples of Americana. Rather you have a selection of baked beans, green beans, corn, a variety of potato salads, and a bunch of other home style food that is neither well prepared nor particularly appealing.

I had a meatball sub with baked beans and green beans (I know, weird, right?). The meatball sub was soggy. I am aware that marinara sauce makes bread soggy, but this thing was seriously soggy. The meatballs and the sauce were fine; however Little Italy has nothing to worry about. The beans were acceptable, just like anything else you’ve ever had out of a can. I finished my meal because I’m not a wasteful person, but I didn’t enjoy it.

I tried to eat as fast as I could because I really didn’t enjoy being inside of Toujours Fresh. It was way too bright, there was no one else there, and the manager was kind of creepy. Additionally, I feel compelled to note that the walls were bare except for a poster on the subject of “teamwork.” I noticed that the manager asked every patron how their meal was. Everyone muttered something or other so that they could forget their meal and go about their busy day in peace. If only someone would tell Toujour that the food was lousy, maybe he would put some decent items on the menu or take more time in making sure that the items on the menu were actually worth purchasing.

If you like Subway, you might like Toujours Fresh. The food is generic, predictable, and crummy. I guess it really is “All American” cuisine.

Toujours Fresh in Cleveland

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

The Euclid Tavern

11625 Euclid Avenue
Cleveland, Ohio 44106

By Edward Sandwichhands

The new Euclid Tavern is a piece of Cleveland history. Although it has been closed for the past several years, the new Tavern hosts a wide variety of food options ranging from pretzel-dogs to steamed clams. At first glance the Tavern looks like a beer joint where you might not expect to find a decent meal. However, even drunken fools desire good food.

The Euclid Tavern is a fantastic establishment. I was late to this sandwich review because I was extremely hungover from drinking at the Euclid Tavern the night before. I was relieved to find that the sandwich review had already begun as Beau, D, and Frank Griffin had ordered prior to my arrival. (Sandwiches run deeper than faith.) Their sandwiches arrived first. I thought that I was going to die while I had to sit there and watch them eat. Their smiling faces, large sandwiches, and quaint laughter were murder to my soul. It took all of the energy that I had to keep my head off of the table.

The waitress clearly sensed my whiskey-laden desperation when she took my order. (This also happened at Big Lots! once.) My chicken parmesan sandwich arrived less than eight minutes after I had ordered it. It was an absolutely enormous chicken breast lightly breaded and seasoned with Italian herbs, served on thick toasted Italian bread. It was much larger and better than I had expected and well worth the price. I’ve had quite a few good sandwiches in my time, but this is the only one that might have saved my life. Although I felt a million times better after the sandwich, the waitress kept telling me I should have a beer to make myself feel better. She was right and I admire that kind of spirit, but I told her that I needed to, “get myself even.”

The Tavern is a one of a kind establishment. It is one of the oldest bars in Cleveland; the same building has been used as a bar since the early 1900’s. After a hiatus, the bar is now re-opened and doing better than ever. They sport two separate bars, a full menu, and weekly live music. However, you’ve probably never been there because you hang out at Panini’s with your friend who beats his wife.

Euclid Tavern in Cleveland


2058 E 4th St
Cleveland, OH 44115
(216) 621-5652

Bite: Believe the hype.

by Beau Cadiyo

On the way over, D. said things that made me nervous. This was the Iron Chef’s restaurant. Friends of D’s once spent $150 per couple at Lola. It was the best restaurant in Cleveland. We’d need reservations, and there was next-to-no chance we’d get a table without one. I started to feel like a doughboy, hearing rumors of how the Krauts raped babies and ate women.
Realities: yes, it is the Iron Chef’s restaurant, and he walked around and talked to people. It was not too expensive – sandwiches were $9 each or $11 for a combination. We were seated promptly. And it may very well be the best restaurant in Cleveland.
It didn’t feel like a lunch place: it was dark, tribal music was playing, everyone was dressed up. We were competing for the youngest people in the room, next to the stunners one table over, and we were definitely underdressed. Despite this, they treated us like we were kings. Amy, the waitress, was attentive without being overbearing, somehow always being in sight when we needed something and otherwise disappearing.
The meal was served quickly. Normally I get nervous when people are behind me, but the staff must have been trained to make it comfortable. When I asked for ketchup, the waiter nodded, but seemed a bit off-put. He brought us small bowls, smaller than at Heck’s CafĂ©. When I bit into the Lola Burger, I understood why: Lola food needs no augmentation like ketchup, salt or pepper (which was also conspicuously absent from our table), and anything more than the bowl may have tempted us to pour on the ketchup and ruin the food. The meat was tender and perfectly cooked; the single slice of bacon added just a hint of flavor to the rest; the pickles and special sauce were hidden underneath the patty, surprising the diner; the aged cheddar melted just enough so that the carefully arranged onions on top sunk in ever so slightly, ever so elegantly, ever so perfectly, all inside an oversized English muffin with a side of rosemary-seasoned fries. It was a meal I never wanted to end. Then, when it was over and my plate had been comfortably cleared, I wouldn’t have wanted anything else but the iced tea that the waiter offered me after I’d paid the bill. It was an unnecessary gesture – after all, they weren’t going to get anything else by serving me more iced tea. But that didn’t matter – it was gracious, classy and memorable.

Lola in Cleveland

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