Monday, December 21, 2009

Catching Up

by Beau Cadiyo

I'm on vacation and had a few bites to get out. Happy Holidays and Happy New Year!!!

Radisson Hotel and Suites Cleveland-Eastlake
35000 Curtis Boulevard
Eastlake, OH 44095
(440) 953-8000

Frank Hoxha and I ended up at the Radisson Hotel with the goal of scoring reduced-price iPod shuffles from StoresOnline (well, we paid $15 for shipping and handling). Yes, I know it's a scam, but I'd gotten a iPod from them before and I wanted another. We stayed for the presentation, and then they served a “dinner” of a sandwich and a small dessert.

There is a concept in America that buttery croissants must be butter-heavy. This is not true; one can have a buttery croissant which is not butter-heavy but, instead, is light, airy and fluffy while still tasting of butter. Go to Europe and eat! Alternately, go to Eastlake; the Radisson understands this. The croissants were buttery and airy, compressing perfectly in response to incisors. Frank then pointed out that there are two types of chicken salad: chunky and creamy. Creamy chicken salad smells like chicken, but is almost entirely pulverized, leaving a paste behind. Chunky...has chunks. This chicken salad was chunky, which Frank prefers; I’m still on the fence as to what I think makes for a superior sandwich. However, these were very good – especially since the kitchen was preparing food for 150 people at one time. We were very, very impressed all around.

Mantel's at the Radisson on Urbanspoon


Diner on Clifton
11637 Clifton Blvd
Cleveland, OH 44102
(216) 521-5003

I met Frank McMahan here for dinner one night and had the Yellowfin Tuna Steak sandwich – a triple-decker served with sweet potato fries. While I really liked the 1950s diner feel at the Clifton, I was not overly impressed with the sandwich itself. The tuna was exceptionally dry, almost powdering during bites, and leaving a fibrous mash in between my molars. The toast was reasonable, and the vegetables and sauce added a lot of moisture, but it was not enough. I’ve never liked sweet potato fries, and these did nothing to sway me from that position, but we had cheddar/bacon fries for an appetizer which were supurb. Frank McMahan’s open-faced pulled-pork sandwich was sauce-heavy. All around, it was ok, but I think there are better places to eat in the area.

Diner on Clifton on Urbanspoon


What About Bob’s?
38233 Glenn Avenue
Willoughby, OH 44094
(440) 951-9700

I’m consistently impressed with WAB’s. On my second and third visits, I had their off-menu chicken salad; it is more toward the creamy side, and, with the tough crust of their bread, is perfect. This last time I had a Turkey sandwich, packed as usual with sandwich goodness. The turkey, of various textures and parts, was stuffed in with lettuce, tomato, cheese and sauce; at $3.99 for a 12-inch sandwich, it’s still one of the best deals I’ve seen in Cleveland, and would still be reasonably priced at $6. At $3.99 for any of their sandwiches, I would nominate WAB’s as the standout of the year – exceptionally high quality sandwiches for bargain basement prices.

What About Bob's? on Urbanspoon


Crop Bistro
(216) 696-2767
Warehouse District
1400 W 6th St
Cleveland, OH 44113

I’ve not had much success with events. Early on, I volunteered with them, and found that two of the three events I helped at – one at Blossom, one in Akron - were neither cool nor in Cleveland. I also volunteered with them at a festival, where my job was to ask people to sign up for the mailing list in return for being entered in a drawing for an iPhone – I never did learn if they actually had such a drawing, and I suspect it was just a gimmick and the drawing never occurred.

It was thus with trepidation that I went to a CoolCleveland-sponsored launch of some Christmas present social networking business which I don’t understand whatsoever. The big draw for me, of course, was a chance to taste their lamb sliders – as many as I could eat for $10. That’s value.

Or, at least, that’s what I thought. The sliders were just ok. The lamb was actually very good, cooked on industrial sized sheets and doused or marinated in some delicious sauce in their open kitchen. However, the bread was absolutely mediocre. To test whether I was being hyper-critical, I asked the five people in my immediate vicinity about their opinion. Each of them said it was a fine filling on a bad bun, which tasted like they were mass produced in some white bread factory in the suburbs. It was far from what I would have expected from Crop Bistro, considering all of the good things that I've heard about it before.

We also had truffle egg salad sandwiches on the same mediocre bread as the sliders. The result was not as good; the truffle egg salad probably tasted amazing on its own, but the flavor was so delicate that it tasted flat when mixed with the buns. The eggs were also over-boiled, leaving the whites leathery. Between the two, go for the sliders - and ask them for some sort of better bread.

Crop Bistro and Bar on Urbanspoon


Bruegger's Bagels
Cleveland Airport
Concourse C
Cleveland, OH 44135

The last place one would expect to find good food at a reasonable price is in an airport. Cleveland Hopkins not only challenged this myth, it drop-kicked it in the face and gave it a combination wet willy/noogie to boot.

I ordered the Tarragon Chicken Salad from Breugger's in a new modern food section which looks more like a sweet mall food court than an airport. It was a tough choice; there were plenty of other good restaurants around (and, when we were walking to Gate C, there was even a Panini's!). There was also a total lack of Starbucks, which was a brave, daring move on the Port Authority's part. Anyways, the chicken was tender and chunky; the almonds added occasional surprises of texture without being overpowering; the red onions added a delicate taste; the cranberries added tartness; the lemon mayonnaise was a tiny bit too watery; the tomatoes were under-ripe but juicy nonetheless; the lettuce was fresh and crispy; the wheat bread was perfectly toasted, and stayed crunchy despite the watery mayonnaise; and Jonathan, behind the counter, was extremely pleasant to talk to. The most incredible part, to me, was that the sandwich only cost $5.99. There was another sandwich, the veggie melt egg sandwich, for $2.99, which I only saw after I'd ordered. When I fly home, I'm definitely going to get one of these.

You can now get a very good meal at a reasonable price at the airport. Nicely done, Cleveland Port Authority!

Bruegger's Bagels on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

B Spot Burgers

28699 Chagrin Boulevard
Woodmere, OH 44122
(216) 292-5567

by Beau Cadiyo

Bite: Michael Symon's name on a restaurant no longer means it's dependably good. For a better burger, go across the parking lot to Fleming's.


25 February 2010
5:05 p.m.

In comments to this post, "JB" wrote that the Boca Burger is gone from the B-Spot menu, and that it has been replaced by an absurdly greasy portabello mushroom burger, so disgusting that his pet pig would not eat it.

If true, some might think that this is a victory for the Cleveland Sandwich Board over Michael Symon. However, I don't think it is. If anything, it is a victory of good ol' common sense and self-interest over hubris and an unexplainable lapse of judgment. I think it likely that Mr. Symon realized that by trying to pass off a frozen, store-bought patty under his own name, he was basically telling people, "I'm Michael Symon, celebrity chef, and I can get away with serving you frozen, individually wrapped pressed-food patties for grievously inflated prices just because it has my name on it! Eat it, stupid star-struck consumer, then praise me for being a culinary genius!" Then, in a moment of reflection - I'm imagining something like when Derek Zoolander looked into the puddle after losing to Hansel - Symon probably asked himself, "Who do I think I am?" Then I see...I see...the ball is cloudy...I see the next day, when Mr. Symon realized that his name was losing cache among discerning consumers, and that he should probably at least try to deliver something besides reheated patties.

Again, the commenter "JB" noted that the new vegetarian alternative is not very good. He also noted that his pet pig wouldn't touch it, but that the little oinker loved the bread. Even if it really is crap, though, at least this time it seems to be Michael Symon crap - something that he decided to put some thought into. For finally putting thought into what he is serving, Mr. Symon should be applauded.

Rumors that B-Spot has changed their bread remain unsubstantiated.



Original review:
After hiking at Chapin in Kirtland for a few hours, Frank Hoxha and I tried to get a burger and fries at some restaurant on SOM Center Road which bills itself as "a fine dining establishment." The problem is that whenever I go there to dine, it's closed, and this was no exception. We then tried Europa, but they were serving brunch and wouldn't open their kitchen for another hour. "Forget it," I said, "lets get food at Trader Joe's and I'll cook."

We drove up Chagrin and walked up to Eton. Something I saw out of the corner of my eye was off; instead of the bright, open windows of Coldstone Creamery I saw tinted, imposing windows and a dark doorway. "BURGERS BRATS BEER" and "B-SPOT" broadcast from the blackness. I gravitated toward it, and Frank asked if we were going. I nodded, entranced, like adulte Roland to the Dark Tower.

Inside, we sat at the central bar. Above us were faux motorcycle parts, pretending to be stamped out of the metal; the lab stools we sat on pulled up against a concrete bar top. A giant beer-can mural, "B" spelled out in red cans, dominated one wall, graffiti art dominated another, and a third opened up into the mall. In the middle of the room was a giant stag-antler chandelier reminiscent more of an Abercrombie and Fitch store than a burger joint. Things started to look familiar - a Lola Burger, Symon and Michael were tossed casually throughout the menu and on a card proclaiming the house rules. "Excuse me," I said to the bartender, "Is this a Michael Symon restaurant?" "Yes, it is - you stumbled into a Michael Symon restaurant without even knowing it!" he exclaimed, smiling like a salesman.

We looked down the menu. The burgers all looked reasonably interesting, but none stood out as a must-have revolution in Burger Dynamics(tm) - that is, until I saw the veggie burger. Of course! Since That Place was closed, and L'Albatros took over, I hadn't had a truly great veggie burger. Michael Symon, of all people, would be the one to pick up the fake meat mantle! But...could he? I was hopeful: "Excuse me," I said to the bartender, "Are the veggie burgers made on-site?" He shook his head. "They're Boca," he said, for the first time not assuming a guise of pride and confidence. I blinked, trying to hide my shock. Boca burgers? Michael Symon would create a burger joint, brand it with his name, and then serve perhaps the most unappetizing frozen veggie burgers available? It jarred with what I'd read the day before in his new book, advice from the man himself to buy fresh, organic, and local. I looked back at the menu, talked it over with Frank, and picked the Shroomage ($9) with some fries ($3). "This one better be amazing," I thought. I was famished.

While waiting, we talked over the interior design and location. What struck me was that this seemed about as far from Symon's other restaurants as one could get. Lola opened as an extremely high-class place in the middle of an area experiencing "redevelopment"; Lolita picked up Lola's special spot in Tremont. They set the standard for the areas, too; next to Lola, for example, La Strada - otherwise quite attractive - looks tawdry. Downtown and Tremont are nicer now, but there are still some parts that don't feel that good or that safe - that still feel a little gritty, even though they've been mostly gentrified. The Shops at Eton Place are the polar opposite - Chagrin Boulevard is about as white and suburban as one could get. B-Spot seemed to be trying to bring a bit of sanitized grit to the neighborhood, but the exposed metal, the beer cans, the stag chandelier all felt fake, non-Symonesque. More confusions came out: while B-Spot has a high-school diner throwback atmosphere to it, when we were there, it was patronized almost exclusively by families and older couples and staffed by 20- and 30-somethings. This, I realized, was the true Symon franchise; Lola is patronized by businesspeople, Lolita by older hipsters. Neither can be copied and then exported with ease. B-Spot is the version that he can replicate and take to every mall in America if he wants to. However, looking around Eton, it started to feel more ridiculous - B-Spot is sandwiched between Barnes & Noble, The Powder Room Makeup Oasis and Boutique and Europa International Salon-Spa. I began to have visions of the genesis of the restaurant: a middle-aged suburban housewife was married to a successful businessman. They have connections, and, somewhat bored, she decided to get Michael Symon to open up a restaurant nearer to her 10-acre lot so that she wouldn't have to travel so far to eat his brand. They put up some money, he signed off on their design and Coldstone Creamery closed. I looked to the right and recognized them: next to us were a 50-something couple, drinking beer and sharing a salad. It was simply a wide, shallow bowl of lettuce, with a few rings of onions, a tomato, mushroom and feta cheese on top, perhaps with olive oil and vinegar. Frank's face scrunched up when they started moaning orgasmically with every bite; Symon had apparently hit their B-Spots. "It's just a bowl of lettuce," Frank hissed at me.

The burger and fries arrived. The small portion of Lola fries were good, but nothing stupendous, and certainly not worth $3 - McDonald's up the street could have sprinkled rosemary on theirs and it would have been as tasty for far less. We sampled the six sauces which were placed in front of us in squeeze bottles and rejected them all - most were apparently house-made, but all tasted heavily of powdered curry. The fries were better on their own. Biting into the burger, juice squirted out - a good sign. However, after chewing through a strong charcoal flavor, I was left with sticky bread smeared across my teeth. "Excuse me," I said to the bartender, "what kind of bun is this?" "Orlando Egg," he replied, grinning widely. Orlando? Imagine another celebrity chef proudly embracing boca burgers and mass-produced buns in his restaurant. Perhaps it wasn't even pride - perhaps he was flaunting it to other celebrity chefs, showing them how powerful his name was: who else but Michael Symon could sell a boca burger on Orlando bread for $7? I kept eating, determined to find something to like about the sandwich. Burger, bun, griddled onions, portabella mushroom cap...I swore there was supposed to be another topping. Only in the last two bites was I reminded what that something was: bleu cheese. It was strong, but there was just a tiny pocket of it, nestled within the onions, and not enough to flavor more than those two bites. Frank had a bite of my burger and a few fries; later, she said that she entered hungry and left not wanting to eat. I finished, left a tip and we left.

On the way out, we passed families and couples seated around tables, most not talking. They were all waiting, with the sort of blank, expectant stares one might see at political rallies or tent revivals. They were there to worship Symon. I felt like we had temporarily joined a mass movement but were escaping the fold, losing only 40 minutes and $15. I wanted to cry out to them to stop, to be critical, to think about what they were doing. I didn't fear for their safety, though; Kool-Aid wasn't listed among the available drinks.

B Spot Burgers on Urbanspoon

Sunday, December 6, 2009


11401 Bellflower Rd
Cleveland, OH 44106
(216) 791-7880

by Beau Cadiyo


Two days after Bar Cento, I found myself in l’Albatross. I was excited about it, despite the shady rumors of how Case had forced the previous owner out in order to install the new one; while I’d loved the That Place veggie burgers and had fond memories of the collegial collegiate vibe that always surrounded the bar, I got the feeling that That Place wasn’t as much of a restaurant as that space could support. However, the vibe was good: even when there were 70-year-olds at That Place, they seemed full of youthful vigor, and watching their friendly interactions with the tables around them just reinforced this sense. However, from experience, I was wary of Albatross. The few times that I’d been to get a drink there it was almost empty, or the patrons were older couples who seemed consciously out of place in the college environment. It had been octogenarified.

I went with Frank Hoxha at lunch on a Saturday. As I’d expected, save for two girls in the corner, we were the only customers under forty. An incredibly friendly host seated us in the back, near the fireplace; immediately, Frank said that while she generally liked the interior details, the tables were far too close together, leading to a break in intimacy on the level of Sushi Rock’s Beachwood restaurant (their Tsunami Night is possibly the single worst place to take a date in greater Cleveland). This was reinforced when a couple was seated next to us. The woman was a loud woman with an overbearing manner and loud, nasally voice; her husband, at least fifteen years her senior, sat complacently across the table from her as she droned on.

A recent New Yorker article on the Michelin Guide mentioned that good waiters are judged by their knowledge and the fact that they don't make up answers to questions, and the fact that they don't have to fudge when asked questions. Our waiter, who could memorize facts, didn’t seem to measure up; while he knew the basic things to say, he could only parrot when asked specific questions about the food. A busboy gave us each two small pieces of bread, which tasted great in the olive oil and mustard that we were given. However, when these were done, we were stocked only once more with bread before they just stopped coming. That Place used to give out copious amounts fresh-baked interlocked rolls with plenty of butter. My nostalgia increased.

The woman droned on. At one point I thought she was on the phone, as she kept spouting off inane, disconnected sentences, and no voice responded. It turned out that her husband just wasn’t answering, and she was conversing with herself. Then their appetizers arrived and a minor riot ensued. While hers was fine, his was “far too salty, oh my God, that’s disgusting, send it back, oh waiter, excuse me!” Frank’s fingers clenched around her knife.

Our food arrived. My burger, served with “pommes frites – you know, French fries” lounged casually on its plate, slightly askew. I wasn’t sure if this was affected or if the kitchen, in its rush to get the food out, hadn’t put it together properly. Regardless, it looked sloppy. When I went to cut it, I went down what I thought was the middle only to discover the bottom bun was off-center. In contrast, Frank’s Smoked Salmon Tartine was artfully prepared, an explosion of color and art.

When I’d ordered, the waiter had asked at what temperature I wanted the burger cooked. Temperature? I’d only ever been asked how I wanted my burger cooked. I didn’t know that there was a class of humans who knew the temperatures at which they wanted meat prepared, and that he mistook me for one of them. I asked what the options were, and he stuttered, then started to explain what it was to be rare, medium and well-done. Manifested, the medium was just short of another restaurant’s “well done,” seared on the outside and mostly brown on the inside, with a tiny sliver of pink. Oil-soaked yellow bell peppers and caramelized onions soaked through the bread; some sort of greasy cheese topped it off. When I picked it up, the bread slipped off; even holding it was a challenge. The pommes frites were certainly nowhere near Bar Cento or The Greenhouse Tavern; I found myself thinking back to Lola, and not in a good way. At Lola, each dish was self-contained perfection. At L’Albatros, I found myself longing for ketchup, pretentiously not provided.

Frank’s tartine was, on the other hand, delicious, an intriguing lemon-juice salad complementing the salmon, a seasoned cream sauce, feta cheese and bread. However, as the meal wore on, we each experienced a unique phenomenon: it became saltier. For each of us, the last few bites of our food was almost overwhelmingly salty, as if a child lacking self-control had been allowed into the kitchen. I began to think that the couple next to us had been right about the man’s soup. My last bite of fries made my mouth pucker, and I grasped for a near-empty water glass to wash it down.

When we left, the woman was opining loudly that the staff had forgotten about them – they hadn’t received any service after returning the soup, and we were completely done. The man shrugged and said perhaps he should have gotten the cheeseburger. I felt like telling him that that was just wishful thinking – just having food doesn’t make it good. But I didn’t. They bothered me, and L’Albatross bothered me, and I was not going to help either of them out.

L'Albatros on Urbanspoon

Bar Cento

1948 W 25th St
Cleveland, OH 44113
(216) 274-1010

by Beau Cadiyo

I’d seen Inglorious Basterds twice in the last three weeks, and had a desire for European aesthetics on my mind. Thus, I met Frank Ciepiel at Bar Cento for happy hour. I had only expected to redeem a coupon that I had for a $5 pizza and get a drink. Little did I know that I would be in it for a burger masterpiece.

Bar Cento is part of the McNulty’s empire, but, unlike the trashy bar on Coventry well-known for admitting 17-year-old girls trying to meet 23-year-old guys (and vice-versa), it is timelessly classy, with dark wood, creative curtained tables and romantic lighting. Bier Markt, part of the same empire, is just as beautiful, with incredibly knowledgeable bartenders and a stunning beer selection. Frank and I ordered our food and drinks, and talked over our lives.

At some point I looked at the happy hour menu. Something about it struck me through the thin veil of red wine. It was only after deep personal reflection that I realized that it contained a $6 happy hour burger, the song of which I could hear distinctly. I immediately looked around for our barmaid, and threw my hands up cheerleader-style to catch her attention. She was a short, pretty brunette, who immediately threw her own hands up and took our order.

The burger arrived shortly thereafter, jauntily perched on an oval plate with a small ramekin of ketchup. The first thing I noticed was that they put the lettuce below the burger; on top were caramelized onions, melted cheddar cheese and tiny bacon strips. What appeared to be sun dried tomatoes joined the lettuce. Lettuce, of course, has a texture better suited to being shorn by the top teeth than the bottom, since resistance is better handled by the top of the mouth than the bottom. This is shown by the dominance of the upper bite over the lower, or the fact that vampire fangs are larger on top than on bottom; it is the natural order of things. I mean, what would it look like if the bottom teeth or fangs were larger than the top? It's just crazy talk; when natural order is violated, all hell breaks loose. It reminds me of the debate over gay marriage. Conservative Christian women like Sarah Palin and Ann Coulter implore Americans to preserve traditional Judeo-Christian marriage values and prevent laws changing to allow for "unnatural" gay marriage. Of course, true Christian women who believe in the concept of the natural order, or “traditional marriage,” should practice traditional marriage in their own lives, and that's something that very few of them do. If these women believe in traditional marriage, it’s only right that they should follow true traditional marriage values and renounce all of their rights to their husbands, including rights to property, suffrage, even the right to socialize with their friends. After all, that's what the Bible commands as the natural order - see, for example, Titus, Timothy, Ephesians and Peter. If they want to promote traditional marriage values, they should stay home, raise their children and serve their husbands as they should serve God. (Well, married conservative women like Sarah should at least be following the dictates of Ephesians 5:22 – Ann appears unable to maintain natural relationships with men.) If they believe in the Judeo-Christian natural order, they wouldn’t even be participating in the debate – they’d be standing behind the men who participate in the debate. If Christian conservative men and women want to bend the rules for their own temporal, corporeal desires and decide to practice non-traditional marriage, it is disgusting, repugnant falsehood for them to claim to be practicing “traditional marriage,” and disgusting, repugnant hypocrisy to prevent other forms of the non-traditional marriage. Is the 50% divorce rate somehow related to their violations of the natural order? Only God knows. All I know is that by violating traditional marriage values and concepts, they cannot deny that they violate the will of God, and they thus invoke and deserve the rebuke and wrath of God. Having never violated the natural order in which a burger should be constructed, I do not feel at all hypocritical in advising Bar Cento to put the lettuce on top of the meat patty next time.

Luckily, the wrath of God was not here invoked - the meat was perfectly medium-rare, seeping glorious cow juice into an above-average bun. The assorted toppings mixed in flavors without being overpowering, and though I wouldn't have put the lettuce on the bottom, the reality of its existence couldn't prevent me from enjoying and celebrating the burger as a whole. Together, the combination made the item certainly worth the happy-hour price of $6. A side of pommes frites – second only to Greenhouse Tavern – rounded out a shockingly good meal.

Frank told me of a problem he's been encountering, and we laughed as he said, "Maybe God is trying to tell me something." Our barmaid came over again. I told her that God was talking to Frank, and she looked at him, eyes sparkling, and said with studied nonchalance, “Tell him I said hi.” With this wonderful cheek she gave us our check and we walked out. As the cold blast of our first winter-feeling night of the year hit my face, I thought that Bar Cento is the kind of place I’d like to be a regular at.

Bar Cento on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Penn Station East Coast Subs‎

9501 Vista Way
Cleveland, OH 44135
(216) 365-0200

By Reuben Dagwood

I love a good sub. The problem, however, is that a submarine sandwich typically has an inverse relationship between tasty and healthy. I love a good sub, but have the metabolism of a 60 year old couch potato. So, as a rule, I do my damndest to avoid eating things that will add to my ever growing gut.

There are a few exceptions to this rule of eating healthy that I try so hard to adhere to. Of course, the major exception is when I get too hungover, I must get something sloppy and bad for me.

This weekend, a large group of my friends and I went to our secret retreat, a cabin on the outskirts of the small town Walhonding, which we can never pronounce and instead call Walla Walla. The cabin is part of a “rural resort” called Indian Bear Lodge. The drive there from Cleveland is miserable and goes through the most winding and crazy roads I’ve ever driven. By the time you make it to the resort, you are deep in the midst of backwoods country.

I am from the backwoods country, and don’t remember ever having seen any resorts around where I came from, much less resorts that had any sort of luxury attached to them. So, it was with great surprise when we first pulled into the place a few months back. There is a beautiful little man made lake with paddle boats, a dock and an awesome, nautical themed beach area. The cabin we always rent has a giant front yard, great for horseshoes and bocce. The cabin itself is not only enormous, but very well made and decorated. The kitchen has granite countertops, modern appliances, and is overall a wonderful place for cooking. The front porch that surrounds the entire cabin has tons of very comfortable Adirondack chairs, and most importantly, a hot tub. This place is stunning.

Although we call these weekends camping trips, the typical camping activities are no where to be found. There are no nature walks. There are no hayrides. There is no cooking over an open fire. What there is, however, is a shitload of booze, debauchery, and overall irreverence.

Last night, after finishing off a whole bottle of Maker’s Mark and the last of 6 bottles of wine, the party was starting to wind down, and people were headed to sleep. I decided it was a good time to attempt a little quiet introspection in the solitude of the hot tub..

The hot tub was such a bad idea, due mainly to the fact that I was much too drunk for either quiet introspection or safe hot tub enjoyment. The result was a double pass out, first in the hot tub, and then in my soaking wet trunks on one of those comfortable Adirondack chairs. I woke up freezing sometime around 4am and finally stumbled to bed.

This ridiculous set of decisions led me to one of the worst hangovers I can remember having, timed perfectly to hang around with me as I made the heroic journey home. Like Odysseus’ ships, we were blown off course. However, unlike his ships, it was the fault not of the Gods, but of my epic vacant hangover stare as I drove right past important turns. The sirens’ call of fountain soda was too much to resist, and we were lulled into further delaying the journey by the allure of the small town gas station. The normally two hour trip lasted well over three, and I knew that I was going to need a sub today, and it was going to have to be a kick ass one.

I was mentioning mentioned this to my co-pilot, Frank, and we got to talking a bit about good subs and good hangover foods. I mentioned my love for the Penn Station Artichoke Sub and her eyes lit up. She then went on to preach to me the glories of her own variation of that sub, which I have christened “The Dachtler”.

For those of you who haven’t eaten at Penn Station, you are missing out. They are similar to all the sandwich chains in that they use fresh ingredients, and they make the subs in front of you on bread baked in the store. However, unlike the other sub chains, you will see no reference to health anywhere in the store. This is a sub shop that knows how to make a sandwich taste good: load it up with shit that is horrible for you and stand back.

“The Dachtler” is the typical artichoke sandwich, which is just artichokes, oregano and provolone cheese, all oven baked on a fresh roll, with two added twists. First off, mushrooms are added. Second, the mayonnaise of the original is substituted with pizza sauce. I added a large order of the fresh cut steak fries and headed back home.

From the first bite, I knew that I had a new go-to hangover sandwich. This sub is hearty, greasy, and most importantly, damned tasty. I’d always liked the sandwich in the past, and had utilized its greasy love on multiple occasions. But, the biggest difference here was that although it was still hearty as hell, I didn’t feel like I was covered in sweat and grease after eating it. The loss of the mayo is truly a powerful submaking move.

Each bite of this sub just gets better and better. As all the cheese melts the whole thing into one sloppy chunk, the result is better and better flavor. I crushed all the fries first, drenched in vinegar, and absolutely dominated the first 7 inches of the sub. I tried very hard to stop eating at this point, but it was just sitting there, staring at me as it continued to congeal into a better, cheesier, greasier little delight. Of course, I crushed the last 7 inches as well.

After waddling in to bed and undoing my belt, I was finally able to get that introspection that I’d been looking for the night before. This sandwich, as good as it was, probably wouldn’t have rung so true in my hung over little heart if not for where it came from. This wasn’t a menu item that was carefully decided on by a marketing department in New York. This was the creation of a fellow degenerate, made from the actual need to destroy a hangover, not just the marketable idea that it could. This is an example of a badass sub being made for its most glorious purpose: the greasy, taste bud exciting, belly bursting destruction of a serious hangover.

Penn Station East Coast Subs on Urbanspoon

Monday, November 2, 2009

Hot Sauce Williams

7815 Carnegie Ave
Cleveland, OH 44103
(216) 391-2230

by Beau Cadiyo

During World War II, the American shipyards propelled the American Navy into a place it had never been: we had the largest navy in the world. It was a rank we’ve never surrendered. An apocryphal story says that, on the date that the US surpassed the British (who had previously held this distinction), two Destroyers, one American and the other British, passed each other. The Americans used semaphore to signal to the British: “Good morning! How does it feel to be part of the second-largest navy in the world?” The British responded, “Fine. How does it feel to be part of the second-best navy in the world?”

On October 4, 1957, when Sputnik’s first beeps made their way back to earth, somewhere, in some remote outpost, Americans and Brits were probably still arguing about which Navy was superior. But suddenly, the Russians had made their debate academic, unimportant, unnecessary. With the Russian advance in real and military science, instantly the world was talking about a completely different topic. Two men with walrus moustaches and medals, whose lecture-hall debates or after-dinner talks would once have drawn thousands, would instead forever be talking to near-empty rooms on small, private liberal arts college campuses before going back to their motel rooms, alone, to drink a small whiskey from the minibar and watch pay-per-view pornography that they’d later demand be taken off the bill so they could pay it in cash.

When last we discussed French fries on top of sandwiches, I received two responses. One was from a die-hard Pittsburgher who said that such an advance in Sandwich Science™ was thanks solely to Pittsburgh, and that any other city’s attempt was at best copying, at worst sandwich plagiarism. Another was from an English friend who thought that this was a purely English thing to do – I believe her words were, “Chips in a sandwich – what could be more quintessentially English than that?”

I leave them to their debate, which is now academic, because the Sputnik of sandwiches has been launched and its signal is coming through loud and clear.

Hot Sauce Williams has something on its menu called a Veggie Boy. It starts with a hot-dog bun, which is put inside a Styrofoam hot-dog container and split, as it would be for a hot dog. It is then stuffed with fries, and a few more fries are placed in the top of the container. They then place coleslaw on top of the sandwich, very, very delicately, and drizzle Hot Sauce Williams sauce on both sides. Then, it’s closed, wrapped in wax paper, and looped round with a rubber band to keep it together.


If it wasn’t successful, it would be like a failed Russian rocket launch that hardly makes the news, or, more likely, is covered up by both sides. But it IS successful. It is not only successful, it is amazing. It’s knife-and-fork delectable, with tender yet crisp fries, soft bread, creamy, crunchy cole slaw and the signature Hot Sauce Williams hot-and-sweet sauce in a perfect balance. It was so delicious that both Scarlet and I had to stop to savor the experience multiple times, and we’re no sandwich virgins. We were patriots in the Sandwich Wars, and our country just made massive and game-changing advances. The whole experience was helped by a turkey sausage sandwich on wheat toast. It tasted exactly like Thanksgiving, with turkey, spices, a huge amount of salt and wheat bread with the sogginess of stuffing.

I should also mention, right now, that the Veggie Boy is $1.75. A DOLLAR AND SEVENTY-FIVE CENTS US TENDER. Stand up and sing, dammit:

God Bless America
Land that I love!
Stand beside her,
And guide her,
Through the night with the light from above.
Through the mountains
And the prairies
And the oceans, white with foooooooaaaaammmmmmmmmm

Hot Sauce Williams on Urbanspoon

John Palmer's Bistro 44

7590 Fredle Dr
Painesville, OH 44077
(440) 350-0793

by Beau Cadiyo

I do not delight in calling out Bistro 44. However, right now I feel like Walter Sobchak: “Has the whole world gone crazy? Am I the only one around here who gives a shit about the rules?”

John Palmer’s Bistro 44 website explains that the chef graduated from the Culinary Institute of America, and is the only chef in Lake County to have graduated from the Culinary Institute of America, and how prestigious it is to graduate from the Culinary Institute of America. Thus, I felt it reasonable to expect great things from a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America. This was misguided, and the first clue was that the only item on the menu resembling a sandwich was a slider. I’ve had bad experiences with sliders before, but while those were mere travesties, the sliders at Bistro 44 were downright insulting. They were described as "Pan Seared Sea Scallops, Mini Challah Rolls, Asian Slaw, Siracha Aioli." Nice try, Culinary Institute of America graduate, but (A) these are NOT SLIDERS, and (B) even if they’d been called “miniature sandwiches,” which would have been more accurate, these were atrocious.

I won’t repeat what makes a slider a slider. However, I will briefly describe why these sucked.

First, the half-inch thick filling (menu description: "Pan Seared Sea Scallops...Asian Slaw, Siracha Aioli") was mediocre, at best. The scallops were bland; in order to have any hope in a sandwich, seafood should have some taste or texture to it. The relish on top added little moisture and scant flavor. Three short sentences are all that the filling deserves.

The bread deserves more: it tasted worse than corner-store enriched white hamburger buns. It was dry, tasteless, of medium density and perhaps 2.5 inches thick. It was therefore five times thicker than the filling, and – as though this needs to be articulated – this is NOT a good proportion. (Proportions should definitely be taught at the Culinary Institute of America, and tested before graduation.) The sandwich tasted entirely of stale bread. The greatest insult was the price: $12 for the plate, or $6 per “slider.”

I will now propose a theory as to what made such a travesty possible. Bistro 44 is perhaps 30 minutes from downtown Cleveland, but is on the outskirts of the outermost suburbs. Cleveland is a culinary hotspot; the restaurants here gain national attention, and while it’s tempting to say that this is because of Michael Symon, he is not the only bright star in our galaxy. (We have a hefty portion of nationally famous sandwiches here, including what many believe to be the top Po’ Boy, corned beef and pastrami, and L’Albatross was just rated as one of the top new restaurants in America. However, these spots are all within a few miles of the city center.

Bistro 44, on the other hand, is in the boondocks. This could be a plus – for example, one might argue that being away from media-fuelled, urban culinary pressures would allow the chef to be more experimental, or be less driven by passing trends. The flip side of the coin is that being away from competition, standards could slip, and sub-par cooking could be passed off as something special. This is what I suspect has happened. This is to the detriment not only of the area, which is hurting for truly good sandwiches, but also of the restaurant and its standards.

We had other dishes – the calamari wasn’t bad, the lamb lollipops were passable and the lobster nachos were actually quite good. However, if you’re looking for sandwiches - as, of course, you are - you should definitely steer clear of Bistro 44.

John Palmer's Bistro on Urbanspoon

Friday, October 30, 2009

Battiste and Dupree Cajun Grill

1992 Warrensville Center Rd
Cleveland, OH 44121-2635
(216) 381-3341‎

By Scarlet Pumpernickel

The Once and Future Sandwich. That’s what I like to call the sandwich I’m currently dreaming of, even if connecting the sandwich to the legend of King Arthur is a little difficult. Battiste is definitely the Merlin of this story, because he is going to make the sandwich much like the great wizard made Arthur into a king. Also, he experiences time backwards. After that, things become murky. Since I, somewhat sinisterly, plan on consuming the sandwich, am I Morgause?

But I’m getting ahead of myself. Before I can tell you about the king, I must tell you about his knights, Battiste and Dupree’s Shrimp Po’Boys, and their heroic exploits. At $10.50, it might seem a little pricey, but the sandwich is huge:two halves, each more than 6 inches long and 4 wide, come loaded with shrimp fried to perfection with a Cajun breading spicy enough to make sure you know it’s there. Lettuce adds a nice freshness to balance the fried shrimp, with a Remoulade and slices of cheese giving a dash of creaminess to the sandwich. But the bread is what sets this sandwich ahead of other Po’ Boys I’ve had. Good French bread, it is soft and airy on the inside with just the right stiffness to the crust. Perhaps the best way to understand this sandwich is to read the stories and legends surrounding it.

First, the legend of Lady Scarlet Pumpernickel: when her first Shrimp Po’boy was put in front of her, she was convinced it was more than she could eat that evening. She resolved to eat half of it and save the rest for later. But lo – inconstant women! After eating half of her sandwich, she was indeed full, but she simply could not stop eating the sandwich. She stuffed the whole thing into her body that very night. A few days later, she began thinking about reviewing the restaurant during her lunch break at work. As she sat there thinking about the sandwich, she realized that she really longed for one. She longed for it so much that if the place had been open, she would have abandoned work right then to get one.* Women place passion before honor.

Second, the tale of Strumpet Frank Fu and Pauper Frank Duong: That night, on the way home from work Sir Scarlet ordered two sandwiches to go, one for herself and one for her roommate, Frank Fu. As they were eating them, Frank Duong came over to hang out. Frank Fu begged him to try a bite. At first, he refused because he had already eaten dinner, but after he finally caved and took a bite, he had to admit it was a delicious sandwich. He then ate half her sandwich. Sometimes, strumpets get played.

Third, the tragedy of Fool Frank Lucas: Earlier this week, Sir Scarlet’s good friend Fool Frank Lucas, who she had recently introduced to Battiste and Dupree, messaged her to ask what the number for the restaurant was. He admitted that he was going to get two sandwiches, one for tonight and one for the next day. Later that afternoon he had changed his online status to reflect the fact that he can’t stop thinking about the Po’boy he was going to have for dinner. When Sir Scarlet messaged him about it, he said that if the restaurant was open, he would leave work right then to go get the sandwiches. Fools always follow their nipple rings.

Finally, the temptation of Sheriff Frank Li: Frank Li was traveling to Philadelphiashire to visit a good friend. She had promised him an amazing Po’boy sandwich and had ordered one the night before. However, on the short hour and a half flight, she sat in her seat, thinking about the sandwich tucked away safely in her carry-on luggage. Even though she had eaten breakfast and wasn’t hungry, she couldn’t stop thinking about the sandwich. Finally, she couldn’t take it anymore; she got her suitcase out and released the sandwich from its earthly confines. She ate it, and had to pretend she didn’t have time to get the sandwich before she left Cleveland. Never trust women around food.

The wizard behind these amazing sandwiches is Clarence Ennis Battiste. Jr. Owner, head chef, waiter, and bartender of Battiste and Dupree, Junior is what makes Battiste and Dupree so special. It’s not just because he is an excellent chef, whose food is on every level (flavor, complexity, presentation) amazing, but because he genuinely loves his food, his restaurant, and his customers. He takes orders himself, and if you ask him for recommendations, he will take the time to find the right dish for you. When I brought my brother, Squire Frank Pumpernickel there, Junior had somehow sized up what my brother was looking for and more or less told him what to order. My bother didn’t regret for a second going with Junior’s recommendation, even though halfway through his meal his nose was dripping and he was sweating from the heat (exactly how Junior said he would).

So what then is the king of sandwiches that I have been dreaming of, and which Junior has promised that his alchemy can create? It’s a Po’boy made with oysters. I used to eat them all the time when I lived down south, and I am convinced that an oyster Po’boy made by Junior could be the best sandwich I’ve ever had. The only issue is that it’s not on the menu. Fresh Gulf oysters are not really available in Cleveland. So I hatched a plan and got Junior to sign on. Next time I visit my family down south, I’m going to bring back fresh oysters, packed in ice for the 8 hour trip, straight to Battiste and Dupree. Then Junior will make me my Once and Future Sandwich, I will consume it, and, I hope, I will be sated. Then again, I’m not sure Morgause and her son Mordread were ever satisfied, even with Arthur’s destruction.

*In some older versions of this story, Scarlet does abandon her work rather than just thinking about it.

Battiste & Dupree Cajun Grill on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The Closing Bell Wall St. Pub

1524 Demonbreun St.
Nashville, TN 37203
(615) 255-6004

by Reuben Dagwood

Having left Louisville, our spirits were all but broken. A huge traffic jam on the way out made matters worse. For the first time throughout the entire trip, music was actually played (loudly) so that we didn’t need to have a conversation. We were wiped out, spiritually and physically.

So, when we finally rolled into downtown Nashville, we were expecting to have everything go badly. Having come from Louisville, we just assumed that no one on the street here would smile either, and that no one would have anything to say to us, besides what their job required.

So, it was more than just a pleasant surprise when, within 15 minutes of arriving in the town we had already been involved in 10 minutes of (constructive) conversation with a local. It was more like a mental jolt of strong coffee than conversation, waking us from our Louisvillian stupor, which was appropriate, as we were, in fact speaking with the barista at a coffee shop downtown.

We were directed to a few different strips of bars at which to have the best times, given detailed explanations of what to expect at each different strip, and pointed in the right direction for finding a cheap hotel close to these strips. We walked down 4th Ave to the visitor’s center and had a marvelous conversation with a good ole’ boy named Frank. On the way there, I accidentally bumped into an older woman, as I was preoccupied with the Ernest Tubb Record Store sign, and with a smile, SHE apologized. Within one hour, we were back at 100 percent and in love with the idea of travel all over again.

Being that this is a sandwich blog, I will spare you all the details of just how much this city kicks ass. Just know that Nashville has officially made it to my number one spot on the favorite city (to visit) list.

In this euphoric haze of city worship, we stumbled into a pub on “Music Row” right about dinner time. I had been trying very hard to eat a damned sandwich at this point, but until now, it had simply not happened. The problem is that after waking so late in the day, and crushing a giant breakfast each day, it was well into the night before any small inkling of hunger occurred again, which was well past the time that the libations had started flowing (hard).

In truth, what sent me over the edge in the sandwich buying department was that I had seen all along the trip south, at truck stop restaurants, diners, and proper restaurants an intriguing side dish: deep fried pickles. I had wanted to get them at a few different places along the way, but the cheapest I had seen them at this point was $10, and I just couldn’t justify paying that much for one sliced pickle, regardless of the breading and glorious grease. But, at The Closing Bell, these wondrous little delights came along with the sandwiches.

So, it was sandwich time. I ordered a Club Melt with the fried pickles and got a great deal on a Yeungling on draft, which is always such a treat. When, finally, I was able to satisfy my curiosity about the pickles, it was with relief. Being an avid fan of pickles, I assumed that I’d have to start adopting the practice of breading and deep frying them once I got back home. I had been mistaken.

The breading and frying of interesting items is nothing new, and as anyone who’s been to a state fair will be able to confirm, the pickle is not any sort of groundbreaking addition to the lustrous roster of fried goods already circulating. The first bite was wonderful. They just looked like thick potato chips, and protocol dictated that I dip them in ranch. It was great. But, very quickly, the allure fell away, and I was suddenly just eating vinegar flavored bread, dipped in ranch dressing, which is as bad as it sounds. Looking backwards, I should have known that a fried pickle would be a horrible idea, but I simply hadn’t seen one before, and was seduced by it’s mystery.

To be fair, this sandwich was everything that it was supposed to have been. It was a greasy Denny’s knock off, made to go well with the booze. If I had been less mentally exhausted, I’d have known this going in. But, when I read the menu, I saw Club sandwich, not Club Melt sandwich. So, in reality, maybe this review is actually a dissertation on shattered expectations. I had a hankrin for a nice, crisp, dry little sandwich, and instead got the club melt. I brought this on myself.

So, what is the Club melt? Well, what it is not is a three layer sandwich, and it is not cut into fourths, and there are no toothpicks, and there are no tomatoes. Does it still deserve the moniker of “club”? No. It is a fried turkey sandwich with bacon on it.

The bread was huge. I was put off by this, because the function of huge fried pieces of bread, half an inch thick each is to soak up as much of the frying grease as possible. So, in your mind, go ahead and substitute lard sponge for bread. Between the grease was a small layer of turkey, covered in bacon and melted all together with American cheese. Again, I feel I must do my diligence and declare that I’d have loved this sandwich, were I deep in the throws of a morning hangover. But, I wasn’t, so I didn’t. And, as a result, especially coupled with the greasy globs that were the pickle chips, I felt like three new zits appeared on my face and I gained 10 pounds.

When I ordered my next Yeungling, I answered the “How was it, guys?” question with a stolid thumbs down, and the classic third grade “pee-yeuh” face. He laughed and apologized and then filled me back up. We stayed there long enough to chat up a nice older couple, help a group of friends finish their “Pub Tower” (self refrigerating 120 ounce beer cups), and get into a playful argument with some Michigan football fans. Throughout all of this, sandwich and all, a smile never left my face.

Regardless of the sandwich, we loved that bar. Hell, we loved every damned bar we set foot in for those three days. So, even having not particularly cared for the damn thing, I still loved it, and was happy to have eaten it.

The Closing Bell on Urbanspoon

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Lady Luck Casa Lounge II Pub & Eatery

19309 Nottingham Rd
Cleveland, OH 44110
(216) 531-8102

by Beau Cadiyo

Bite: brilliant burger in a surprising setting.

"We have nothing to fear but fear itself," said FDR, but I feared the Lady Luck Casa Lounge II. I first saw it while driving downtown from my house; it was alone in a large parking lot, looking seedy and ominous. For months I saw cars there but never saw anyone on the premises. My imagination ran away: first I thought it was a private club, with a dilapidated exterior and surely affluent interior, and then I thought it might be a strip club. I was blind; the fact that they advertised beer and a variety of fatty or deep-fried foods, and that it was in a dark, semi-abandoned neighborhood, never made me think that it might be a regular bar that served comfort food. Googling it turned up no information - there were references to another Lady Luck Casa Lounge, perhaps v.I.0, and an assortment of unrelated sites. What were they doing, flying under the radar like this?

Its image wasn't helped when, on a dark, late-autumn night, I was driving to the Cleveland Rock Gym with Frank Hoxha. Cruising past LLCLII, a man suddenly shot out of the parking lot on a bicycle. I would have hit him if I hadn't been looking at the building in fear and awe. I braked hard and honked; he apparently forgot he was on a bicycle, for he turned to look at me over his left shoulder. His right hand, connected to the handlebars, pulled the wheel right, his body went straight and he toppled over hard in the middle of the street. I swerved around him, turned around down the street, and came back. We saw him walking his bike on the sidewalk. "You ok?" I called out, and he mumbled affirmatively, almost embarassed. This incident, plus the summertime appearance of people smoking outside, gave it an even more threatening aura, and thus a new reason not to venture inside.

LLCLII is what Prosperity Social Club wishes to be; it's a true dive bar with great food and cheap drinks. The clientele - working-class, loud and boisterous - are the sorts PSC's hipster patrons might aspire to befriend, if they were not too busy trying on tight jeans and vintage-inspired hats. It is dark inside, and dingy, but not dirty. Men line the bar.When we went in, a lone woman, maybe 75, tended the bar. The TVs blasted sports, a digital jukebox played hits and pool tables stood ready for action. A sign proclaimed that they trusted in God; "All others pay cash."

When the food arrived, we were starving. My fish sandwich was brilliant - the fish was delicious, with a crunchy, breaded crust. The bread was mediocre, if a bit dry, and the fries were better than average. A small debate ensued about what sort of cheese can go on a fish sandwich - is American cheese truly the only one that can be used, or does Swiss work, too? When Scarlet and Reuben dug into their burgers, though, the discussion turned to their pure deliciousness. The buns were, again, mediocre, but the filling was simply amazing - the meat was tender and juicy, the cheese melted perfectly, and the house sauce - I believe it was called "Bull" sauce - went with everything on the table. With a better bun, these creations would easily be in the running for the best burgers in Cleveland - up there with Lolita, Heck's, Five Guys or any other establishment. The buns – a relatively minor, easily correctable element - are all that keep them down.

Recommended? Definitely. It may not look like it, but LLCLII is a great neighborhood bar, warm and friendly, and has incredible food and cheap drinks. Just don't do as I did and let fear get in the way of taking that first step through the door.

Lady Luck Pub & Eatery on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Fenton, Michigan - we salute you!

There's a tool on the left side of our blog that shows the cities people are in who read this blog. If you click through, it shows how they got to the CSB. Reuben just alerted me to this gem:

Fenton, Michigan arrived from on "The Cleveland Sandwich Board" by searching for "milf meat in man sandwich".

Fenton, Michigan - thank you for visiting, and we hope you find what you're looking for.


Lewisville, Kentucky

Travel Tales by Reuben Dagwood

Traveling by automobile is both a wonderful experience and a nightmarish horror. Trekking out from your secure home base and slowly plodding through new areas with the excitement of what’s to come is a wondrous time of guessing and anticipation. Most times, the actual destination turns out to be far less than what your mind has built it up to be, and typically, the return trip is a miserable romp at top speed, in the attempt to simply make it home.

I recently accompanied a couple of friends of mine on the first leg of a “musical odyssey down the trail of American musical history”. They flew in from England into Cleveland in the attempt to move semi-backwards through the history of Rock and Roll. The idea was to visit the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, move south to Nashville and the Grand Ole’ Opry, on to Memphis and Graceland, and finally to New Orleans and the roots of Dixieland and Jazz.

I joined up as the driver for the first leg, from Cleveland to Columbus to Louisville, KY to Nashville. In the weeks approaching the journey, my level of anticipation grew to extraordinary levels. By the time the mission started, it was a simple fact in my mind that this would be a soul searching, eye opening, life changing trip. To foreshadow, I was mistaken.

Being that I write for our loved Board, I left with the intention of having a sandwich in each city and writing multiple posts along the way. Sadly, this was not to be. Very early in the trip, a pattern emerged. The evenings were to be spent drinking. Hard. The mornings were to be spent sleeping. The afternoons were to be spent eating breakfast and recovering, and the early evenings were to be spent preparing to drink. Hard.

As a result of this pattern, the sandwich eating became a harder task than I had originally planned. By Columbus, I realized that this trip would probably not have much to add to the blog.

Upon first arriving in Louisville, we were all enamored. As quoted to us, Louisville proudly boasts at having more bars, per capita, than Manhattan. Driving through the small city, we could easily believe this. We all believed upon first glance that Louisville was a Mecca for boozehounds, and would make for a wonderful addition to the trip. We stayed with a stranger on her couch, and I was told that while there, I had to eat a “Hot Brown”, which is an open faced sandwich created by the Brown Hotel there somewhere around a century ago. As a result, every self respecting Louisville restaurant serves one, and all argue that theirs is the best in town.

I made a comment that we had some unique feelings at the Cleveland Sandwich Board in regard to what defines a sandwich, and that the open faced aspect of the Hot Brown may count it out from contention. This was when I got my first real look at what Louisville is. The response I got was “We created it, and we can decide if it is or is not a sandwich. And, it IS a fucking sandwich.”

You see, if I could describe Louisville in one word, I’d tell you that word right now. But, in order to do it justice, I have to use more: Elitist. Overinflated. Pompous. Disconnected. Misinformed. And, above all, unfulfilling. Even the proper pronunciation of their town becomes an entryway into the snobbery of the populace. “it’s Lulville, NOT Lewisville.”

Our first evening there took us to a bar that served over 1,000 beers, and somehow still managed to be pretentious and snobby about each and every last fucking one of them. We spent entirely too much time there, and ended up with a $150 bill. We asked to be taken to a grimier bar, with a smaller, cheaper beer selection, and with some live music, or at least some good music. This bar also fell short of what we were looking for.

At this point, we decided that we needed to just get out and see as many bars as we could and hope to get a better taste in our mouths for the town as a whole, because as of yet, it was more than just the bad bars that were leaving us less than fulfilled. We were still starving for conversation, excitement, and some sort of entertainment. So, we got a ride to yet another bar that would fall short of what we were looking for. At this point in the evening, the highlight of the entire town had been the graffiti on the bathroom wall, instructing “Rape your wife for America.”

We got a ride from this bar, in search of a better one. However, on the way there, the driver nodded off, despite our yelling as loud as we could, due to the fact that the car was travelling very fast and was pointing at a telephone pole.

While walking away from the totaled car, blood running down my face, bruises shared by everyone, we came to our conclusion: Fuck Lewisville.

The next day, our agenda included me finding a Hot Brown to write about. But, at this point, I was so angry at the city, I didn’t think that their shit sandwich deserved a spot on our hallowed pages. With a final middle finger flare, we departed and headed to the brighter skies of Nashville.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009


This just in from the FDA: some sandwiches are only for the strong.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

This is complete BS.

By Beau Cadiyo

I just read this article about FirstEnergy's plans to send out two light bulbs to customers in Ohio. They will be mailed or hand-delivered. Great, right? Nope - the bulbs will be paid for by the customers, who will be charged $.60 per month for the next THREE YEARS. As I calculate it, that's $21.60 for two light bulbs.

This is a rubbish practice, and both FirstEnergy and the state regulators should be ashamed of themselves. Clearly, FirstEnergy stands to gain a lot of money. At this website, bulbs are as low as $1.90 - thus, FirstEnergy is making $8.65 per bulb. Since they're sending out 4 MILLION bulbs, they would clear $34,600,000 - and that's at retail rates, which I'm sure they're not paying. I'm not sure what could have motivated the regulators to approve this plan. They should give customers the option of receiving the light bulbs and paying $10.55 per bulb - they shouldn't impose this exorbitant cost on them.

Write to your state representative, senator and Governor Strickland and tell them that this is unacceptable.


Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Chief Pittsburgh Correspondant: August Henry's City Saloon

(412) 765-3270
946 Penn Ave
Pittsburgh, PA 15222

By Edward Sandwichhands

James Beard wrote of the Club Sandwich:

“. . . it is one of the great sandwiches of all time and has swept its way around the world after an American beginning. Nowadays the sandwich is bastardized because it is usually made as a three-decker, which is not authentic (whoever started that horror should be forced to eat a three-decker three times a day the rest of his life), and nowadays practically everyone uses turkey and there's a vast difference between turkey and chicken where sandwiches are concerned.”

That is exactly how I would describe my club sandwich (the “Saloon Club”) at August Henry’s: bastardized.

My sandwich was boring. Like meat and potatoes boring. Like NASCAR boring. If I wasn’t really hungry due to a nasty hangover, I probably would have just gone to sleep in the restaurant after suffering through a cup of flavorless bisque. However, I somehow managed to wolf down the two pieces of white bread with slimy lettuce, grainy tomato, reasonable turkey, unnoticeable ham, and decent bacon. My lunch included lousy potato chips, a tub of mayonnaise, greasy roasted red pepper bisque, and no pickle – no pickle!!! When I finished I declared to my lunch partner that I would never come to August Henry’s again. He was similarly disappointed by his flavorless mussels.

The lousy jerks who made my sandwich should be forced to eat it three times a day for the rest of their lives. That way James Beard won’t be forced to haunt the staff of August Henry’s from beyond the grave.

August Henry's City Saloon on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Au Bon Pain

200 Public Sq
Cleveland, OH 44114
(216) 771-0869

by Beau Cadiyo

This will be brief. I had a spicy tuna salad sandwich at ABP, which was, surprisingly, very good. The bread was ok, the filling was phenomenal, the price was high. Fine. Done.

I write to warn you of chips. I purchased the Food Should Taste Good Potato and Chive Tortilla Chips. These were, by far, the worst potato chips I've ever had. I shall elucidate:

1) Statistics prove, prove that you've, wait. The bag had a drawing - a DRAWING - of the average chip inside, which it boasted was enlarged to show texture. Yet it was the same size as the chips inside. A small complaint, but telling. Of what, I do not know.

2) The texture was of gritty, wet cardboard. They did not crunch so much as yield with difficulty.

3) They tasted of the cardboard, heavily salted, with other odd flavors here and there. Sometimes I tasted the corn of the tortilla chip; sometimes I thought I detected a potato essence. Mostly, however, it was bland and dull. Combined with the texture, it was downright unpleasant.

4) Hope springs eternal: I finished almost the whole bag. I was hoping I would grow to like these. Frank Dumbrys, a workmate, tried one and discarded half of it. He then tried another, and discarded that half.

The name of the company states something true: food should taste good. Unfortunately, we are sometimes grievously disappointed.

Au Bon Pain on Urbanspoon

How do you eat your sandwiches?

Reflections by Patty Foccacia

The other day, I was making myself a nice decadent turkey and ham sandwich. I am a big fan of dressing up my sandwich - two slices of multi-grain bread, a few slices of deli turkey and ham, tomatoes, cucumbers, lettuce, onions, cheese, topped with yellow mustard. Hmm, delicious.

As I was eating my huge creation of a sandwich, I noticed that I ate the crusts first and then worked my way to the middle. I realized I did the same with peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. And for soft tacos.

Some people discard their crusts. I remember back in fifth grade, this kid would bring four PB&J sandwiches for lunch. When finished, he'd leave a huge mountain of crusts, which probably equaled to two whole slices of bread. What a waster, I'd think.

Of course some people eat their sandwiches top-down. They'd get a a little bit of the crust, then the middle, the crust again, and work their way down the sandwich. How neat and methodical and ... normal.

Then there is me, who eats the crusts first and then the middle. I don't particularly like eating crusts. They are a bit dry. The mustard or peanut butter never gets spread all the way to the edge of the crust. I also need dressings to top my sandwiches in order for them to be edible. Therefore I wondered why I ate the crusts first.

Oh, I knew perfectly why. You know when you stick lettuce and cheese (and other miscellaneous toppings) in the bread, they tend to stick out on the sides? I hate that. Especially when you eat them the "normal way," a bit of them would slow migrate out of the sandwich. By the time you're almost done, you realize you have this huge chunk of lettuce or tomato that is just sitting there. I also hate when excess olives or sauce drips out of the sandwich and most likely fall on my lap. With my luck, I'd probably be wearing khakis or a nice skirt on that day.

So, I'd eat the fringes and crusts first so that my teeth marks would create a seal to my sandwich. Think of it like a crimping machine. I am such a dork, I know. I also like the idea of saving the best for last, so not only do I 'crimp' my sandwich to a nice neatly-edged square, I am also left with a juicy, plump sandwich with moist bread. No crusts.

Finally I can enjoy the rest of my sandwich and have a satisfying finish. What a life. Delicious.

So I guess a simple thing like eating a sandwich revealed a little aspect of how I think and how I like things done.

Did you know Brazilians eat sandwiches (and pizza) with forks and knives? A quote from

"Brazilians will usually use a fork and knife for pizza, open sandwiches, and even chicken. They are amused and even amazed - like my friend Cesar in Columbus, Ohio - at the American way of eating such foods with their hands."

Or maybe you just think I'm an utter dork and think too much about little things. I really don't. :)

Monday, August 24, 2009

Double Down

Opinion - Reuben Dagwood

A typical approach to marketing is to create a product that “isn’t your father’s [whatever]”. This is not a new phenomenon to our generation. In fact this has been going on for decades. It’s a simple way to add life to a product by attempting to appeal to “the younger crowd”.

Sometimes, this approach involves nothing more than a change in marketing campaign. Take the same product and make some hip young ads for it. It’s a relatively inexpensive way to appeal to a whole new batch of customers.

Another approach is to make some dramatic decisions regarding the packaging and the composition of the product itself. This can be a bit more expensive, but also, in essence, creates a whole new product, eliminating any concern of offending the loyal followers of your original item.

And then, there is the third variety: the face raping destruction of an icon. And, in this vein, I submit to you the attempt to do so to our beloved idea of a sandwich by the American company, KFC: The Double Down Sandwich.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

What About Bob’s?

38233 Glenn Avenue
Willoughby, Ohio 44094
(440) 951-9700 (phone orders available)

by Beau Cadiyo

Bite: the best sandwich deal in Cleveland, if not America.

"Movies make me want to go back to California. Visiting reminds me of why I left."

This was my Facebook status the morning after watching Lords of Dogtown. The magic, beauty, and excitement of being in California - of being young in California - were all there on the screen: the ocean, the streets, the people, the parties. I grew up in San Diego and knew all of those people when I was young, just like how, when I was driving to my new home in Cleveland and I stopped in hotels and turned on MTV, I recognized every face. Every night, I knew all the rich fucks partying on Laguna Beach. They were types, but apparently they were everywhere, and I laughed as I recognized my friends beaming out from the screen. They were the ones that made California the promised land to viewers around the world – the people I met in China, Wales, Spain or Mauritius who said that they always wanted to move to Los Angeles, or Santa Barbara, or San Diego, and get away from their unexciting, unromantic, uninteresting homes.

What is it about the human heart that makes the grass greener? Does this serve evolution, or reproduction? I think everyone must want to be happy where they are; the problem is actually accomplishing it.

California’s great advantage over other states is the media. People who work in movies, television and radio - so often people from other states or countries - have a wonderful ability to imagine what it is like to grow up in California, unencumbered by reality. The aspects of California culture they portray undoubtedly exist – the people, places, sun and sand, but the romantic figures are, like Tom Sawyer, cobbled together from others. Moreover, modern media does not possess Samuel Clemens' compunctions - writers now don't tell you when they change reality to suit their vision. Instead, they imagine a Southern California youthful experience, and through screens and stereos around the world, it becomes the reality. Ignored, minimalized, or more often romanticized, are the bad things about living in SoCal – drugs, crime, traffic, social pressure, ennui, spiritual desolation . Without a comparable portrayal of, say, Iowa or Idaho, Columbus or Cleveland, the rest of the world sees only the reality of their own existence and compares it to the ideals they see on their screens. It's like looking at David and bemoaning our own puny muscles.

The next morning, I woke up and pulled on some shorts for work. It wasn't my usual work attire, but I was going to a warehouse to look at files, and the woman who organized our files said it would be hot. In California, at my old firm, this was the uniform; when I started, they'd just banned flip-flops from the office, but the outcry from the secretaries was so great that they rescinded the rule: no flip-flops when carrying boxes up and down stairs.

I was nostalgic.

I worked all morning, then headed down the street to downtown Willoughby for lunch. Parking was easy, even on a beautiful day at noon, and I first walked up to Enclave coffee house ( I asked if they had sandwiches, and the pretty, tattooed, multicolored-haired girl behind the counter replied in a slow, lilting voice that they didn't. She recommended another place as "good - and cheap." I started to walk out, past two middle-aged women doing something on laptops and a man on the cafe's desktop, past black tables and chairs and a plywood stage with two acoustic guitars propped up on it, strings broken and dangling, when I thought, "I've been here before." All coffee shops look the same, yes, but that this was exactly the type of place Kassia and Jarmilka and Ananda and Roselva and Agata and Saskia and Aujah and Karina and I used to go in Pacific Beach, drinking too much coffee, running around through the tables playing tag, playing guitar for our friends. I walked out. The street was beautiful: old brick buildings that had stood for four generations were real, not facades created to imitate establishment. They have the aura of history and uniqueness and architectural attention put into their construction that one never sees out west, where it's almost impossible to get away from strip malls filled with franchises and housing divisions with three or four floorplans. I crossed the street.

In the sub shop, four people - likely family - labored behind the counter while a family two mothers with two children ate at a table. Four businessmen ordered, joking in the uncomfortable way businessmen joke, the way teenagers hear and vow to never be like. Switchfoot came in over the speakers, the way they might do anywhere. The woman taking my order was a fairly attractive middle-aged woman in a tie-dyed shirt, blonde hair and silver necklace. The subs were cheap - $3.99 for a foot-long. I sat outside on the sidewalk. It was hot, so I took off my polo and sat in a wife-beater. When I went in to collect my sandwich, a 20-something MILF was bending over to sweep up her child's crumbs, revealing a tramp stamp of a colorful ocean scene.

Bob's Ultimate Original Sub was excellent. First, the bread was incredible - crisp crust, chewy center. Second, it was stuffed - layers and layers of meat, cheese and lettuce with a vinegar-based sauce. The textures were sublime - my teeth sheared easily through the meat, the lettuce was crunchy and the bread was hard and soft at the same time. I'm a heavy eater, but I couldn't even start the second half.

I went back to Enclave to pick up a cup of coffee. As soon as I walked in, the man at the desktop shouted, "He's back!" and the girl echoed him. They asked about the sandwich. The man, Traveling Frank, opined that the bread was not left to proof long enough, and began to explain the process of bread-making. The girl started complaining about her one experience at Bob's ordering a Chicken Salad Sandwich, and I ended up speaking with them both about relationships, travel, business, and all the good reasons to live in Cleveland. Traveling Frankhit one on the head: the people are friendly, the kind of friendly that stands in a coffee shop for a half-hour casually talking to strangers.

Back at the warehouse, I noticed large square windows in the wall every twenty feet, all looking out into dense greenery surrounding the building. Then I thought of my friend Frank Sharp, who recently started a business in San Diego that rips up lawns and replaces them with green plastic turf. He can’t keep up with demand and is already behind in orders. It made me smile: the grass may be greener, but that doesn't mean it's real.

What About Bob's? on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The Cleveland Chop House and Brewery and the Barley House

Cleveland Chop House and Brewery
824 W Saint Clair Ave
Cleveland, OH 44113
(216) 623-0909

Barley House
1265 W 6th
Cleveland, OH 44113
(216) 623-1700

by Beau Cadiyo
I first came into sliders in any great quantity here in Cleveland. In California, we were much more likely to get a Double Double, and the idea of a slider at White Castle was completely foreign to me. Thus, seeing them in person made me think of first Saturday Night Fever where Travolta jumps on the table, and then Harold and Kumar (entire movie); the idea of a slider attracted me, but I never got the urge to actually take the first step toward getting one. Like going home with a stripper, it was always one of those things I wanted to do but never did, satisfying my desires elsewhere.

I thought I knew what sliders were, though. So, when my belief was challenged, I looked them up on two separate sites. First, Wikipedia:

Another variety of hamburger is the "slider", which is a very small square hamburger patty sprinkled with diced onions and served on an equally small bun, popularized by White Castle. The name comes from their size, whereby they are considered to "slide" right down your throat in one or two bites (Many U.S. vets will disagree; the term "slider" originated from the hamburgers served by flight line galleys at military airfields, which were so greasy they slid right through you). Another purveyor of the slider is Krystal. Burger King has sold pull-apart mini-burgers, first under the name "Burger Buddies" and later as "Burger Shots". In the late 2000s, the "slider" has gained in popularity and has been featured on the menu even at more formal restaurants such as T.G.I. Fridays. Jack-in-the-box also now serves sliders marketed as "Mini Sirloin Burgers."

Then, I read this, which sounded more reasonable:

So what makes a Slider?
…Most of all it’s the size, current White Castle Slyder patties are only 2.5 inches wide and very thin, the buns are just as small. Because of their size Sliders are often served in pairs, trios or even six at a time.
Next is the small square and super soft burger buns. These are custom baked just for Slyders so don’t expect the same taste and feel anywhere else. The nearest thing you can get from a grocery store might be Martin’s Potato Rolls but a lot of the flavor and softness comes from the unique White Castle cooking method.

When faced with the opportunity to order sliders at the Cleveland Chophouse, I couldn't resist. I'd gone to meet my mentor, attorney Frank Rosenthal, who - while constantly stressed out - is still one of the most fun people I have met, and is also notable for his genuine interest in others. We sat outside and talked; runners passed by, and lawyers going home from work, and dates, and valets.

The "sliders" that came out were, to my mind, unrecognizable as such, even if I'd never laid eyes on one before. The large plate held four pieces of what was otherwise a normal hamburger, which had been quartered. In the middle was a mess of fried onions - not onion rings, but thin-sliced onions which were almost all interconnected. I took a "slider" and some onions, realizing a moment later that because they were all tangled together I'd taken nearly all of them.

The "slider" had bacon on it, which is almost to be expected nowadays, but otherwise it was completely average. The Chophouse may believe that it is being gastronomically progressive by taking the concept of "slider" and changing it to “quartered hamburgerTo me, it merely seemed like they were adding a menu item without actually having to do anything beyond cutting up a hamburger. Ruling: disappointed.

The weird thing was, a day later and around the corner, the Barley House offered exactly the same thing. Frank Nguyen, a local restaranteur, Frank Whitman-Rush, Frank Hoxha and I all sat outside on the patio. There were a lot of people there for a West Sixth Wednesday - the patio was packed, and the pub quiz kept most of the inside tables busy. We sat outside and Nguyen ordered the sliders. He then went on for almost five minutes on how much he liked their menu layout, and how cheap the food was.

I was again disappointed. The slider was, again, simply a burger cut up into quarters, this time with waffle-cut french fries. It came with impressive Italian bread, real cheddar cheese, special sauce, bacon and a reasonable piece of hamburger meat, but it was still cut into quarters - a poor man’s slider. It made me wonder if people were just going crazy.

So after all that, I'm still a slider virgin. The "sliders" I was served were not sliders at all - they were quartered hamburgers. Quarters. That's what they should be called, and that's what you should order the next time you go to either of these places. If the wait staff say they don't have quarters, but they have sliders, insist on a quartered hamburger, then say, "You know - quarters." They will probably think you eccentric, and will possibly condemn you when they're among their own. They may even spit in your quarters. However, such is the price of integrity - something that they will never, ever know.

Cleveland Chophouse & Brewery on Urbanspoon

Barley House on Urbanspoon

Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar

28869 Chagrin Blvd
Woodmere, OH 44122
(216) 896-9000

by Beau Cadiyo

The Cleveland Sandwich Board was started as a sandwich-reviewing body, and we fully intended to pay for those sandwiches ourselves. After our first few reviews, we linked up with the Case School of Law Docket, a student newspaper. They reimbursed us up to $30 per meal (which we usually exceeded). For the first year of our existence, we milked it for all it was worth: the Docket got regular restaurant reviews from one of America’s most important and vital sandwich review organizations; we got free food. It was a win-win situation.

Having said that, I absolutely resent it when businesses offer me free food to review. Reviews should, in my opinion, be unbiased assessments of the items reviewed. For something like food, the need to avoid influence is even more acute . A movie leaves one with an experience and a car is often returned to the manufacturer, but food is not regurgitated at the end; it becomes a part of the reviewer. Trading free food for a review strikes me as bribery, as corruption, as absolutely dishonest. However, I am not averse to taking advantage of a free offer – instead, with righteous indignation, I become hyper-critical.

This brings us to Fleming’s. A woman contacted me to ask if I’d be interested in coming down for a complimentary burger from their new happy-hour "5 for $6 before 7" menu. I accepted and immediately regretted it. What would reviewing a free burger do to my objectivity? And, if I gave them a bad review, what would that say about my gratitude? I conceded that I would not be objective, and decided not to care what they thought about my manners. If they asked for a review, they had to be willing to accept a negative one. It was not my fault if I found their food lacking.

So I went, my heart – and stomach – hardened. Frank Hoxha, who often has interesting ideas about what one should do with food, joined me.At the door, we told the hostesses we were there for happy hour with Frank Vasil, who had emailed me. They did not know who this Vasil person was. I escalated: we were with The Cleveland Sandwich Board. The ignorami had heard nothing of us. I was furiously turning to walk away from their dank establishment when I remembered to say "Taste of Flemings," which saw us whisked swiftly through the dark restaurant to a long table on their bright outside patio, with plates and forks and drinks of our choice.

The owner was sitting with a table of food bloggers and talking about the restaurant, and we joined them. I immediately disliked the place a little more. Any place where critics are treated specially is suspect. He went to get the bartender, who asked what we’d like to drink. I asked for a surprise with hard alcohol; Frank got wine. I became even more annoyed. They were trying to liquor us up.

The other bloggers were all friendly; I ended up talking to a Brazilian lawyer who never removed her sunglasses. I expressed my discomfort at receiving free food, at which point one of the other bloggers looked squarely at me and said that most of her meals were free. She said she often contacted restaurants and offered to review them in exchange for free food, and suggested that I do the same. I looked around the table and suddenly wondered if I was the only one who didn’t think this was right or honorable, the only one who thought this practice put the entire reviewing community to shame.

A Sirloin Burger arrived, cut in half and haughtily perched on a huge plate with two giant onion rings and a small ramekin of jalapeƱo aioli sauce. It was heavy enough that I began to think that the meat was not bulked out with any additives. The bottom bun was slightly soggy, while the top had a smooth, thin crust that was not normal for hamburgers. It didn’t react much when I pushed down, instead retaining much of its shape.

I resented the first bite, and the second, and the third, because I resented the hope on the part of the restaurant that I, and the other bloggers, would be pleased. The first, the corner, was mostly bread, but it was good – egg knot bread, baked at the restaurant by the chef, chewy and warm, tasting of an ethnic nostalgia. The second included more sauce and meat, which was dense, solid, slightly pink and very juicy. The lettuce was wilted on top, and slightly slimy (perhaps from the sauce); the melted cheddar was not noticeable, and the bacon, cooked in cajun spices and sugar, added a small amount of flavor. More than flavor, though, it added texture - a little bit of resistance to the top teeth which, after biting through the bread and just before hitting the sirloin, forced me to pause. The rest of the bites were just as good, although the burger at one point got a bit messy, with sauce dripping and beef slipping out almost sexually. When I finished, I tried an onion ring. I hate when onion rings are stringy, not allowing for a clean bite but instead forcing the eater to slurp the onion out of the breading as if it was a common piece of pasta. This one allowed for a clean bite, the onion remaining perfectly in place. I was totally unprepared for my reaction: I was impressed.

At the end, they gave us gift bags - two wine glasses, a bottle stopper, wine key, foil cutter and a bottle of wine. Walking out, I told Frank, "We were so fucking bribed." Yet, somehow, I didn’t resent them as much as I thought I would. The burger was excellent; the spicy calamari was some of the best I’ve had in Cleveland; the cajun shrimp spicy and crunchy. The staff was attentive, which I didn’t like, until I noticed that they were attentive to everyone – the bartender sat on the couches with another group, chatting, and the busser, a young black man, was perfectly deferential to the customers. (Ever since talking with Frank Frazier about the racial divisions with staff, I’m more and more conscious of black men and women being allowed out of the back to interact with customers; this is a strong point in Flemings’ favor.) My Eight Ball cocktail was strong, and very drinkable. Although the patio looks out onto the parking lot, it’s not as unpleasant as, say, Sushi Rock Beachwood’s, which puts you almost on top of passing cars.

Thus, I was angry at their attempts to influence our writing, and resented them for it. The problem is that the food really was excellent - and, at $6 during happy hour, a very, very good deal. We're already planning on going back.

Addendum: I was happy to see that another blogger had similar reservations about reviewing free food as I did. She is obviously not the blogger mentioned above. There are also some good pictures in this post. We apparently received conflicting reports about where the burger bread was made; I hope that the owners can clear up this confusion, perhaps in the comments section.

Fleming's Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar on Urbanspoon