Thursday, June 25, 2009


7525 Granger Rd
Valley View OH 44125

by Reuben Dagwood

Working in an office located directly above a Subway restaurant first seemed to be an unbelievable convenience. So much so, that we based our decision on the office itself in part on this fact. How much time is stolen from a productive work day by the insidious workings of the “quick” lunch break that invariably leads to a twenty minute conversation about where to go, followed by the lovely just one more quick drink philosophy that our office so readily adheres to? Yes, being mere steps from a Subway is going to make for convenience and increased productivity, not to mention the amazing health benefit. We’ll all be perfect physical specimens, rolling in the proceeds from the reclaimed lunch hour, and we’ll be doing it at home an hour earlier than we ever have before!

Fast forward two years and let’s take another look. It’s hard to really remember clearly the love that I first had for Subway when I got here. I have blurry images of a “joyous” feeling of looking forward to the mixing, the matching. A haze of memory tells me about how I once had some sort of enjoyment resulting from the invasive, ever present aroma of bland bread. I have fleeting glimpses of the excitement I felt when I was told by Frank that they were planning to come out with a spinach asiago spread.

Remembering the hatred that has grown inside of me toward the Subway is not nearly as hard. Rubber chicken, Grade F lunch meat, the spinach asiago spread, and a gaping lack of hot sauce and swiss cheese are just side issues. Sure, the food is anything but gourmet, but it is fast food after all. But where is the convenience? Where is the saved time? Where is the health? They don’t exist.

The restaurant is a mere twenty steps away from my office door, but I cannot remember the last time that I was able to wait in line for less than 10 minutes for a sandwich. What this means to me is that I actually lose convenience, mainly because I’m an irrational, impatient man. At least 4 times a day, I’ll walk downstairs, solely with the intention of grabbing a sub, only to see that the line is forever, and instead just pop outside for a quick smoke, instead. Super health, here I come!

And speaking of health, it’s out the window in regard to the food itself. I know that this chain is a Jared reducing master diet, but it’s just not having that effect on me. The problem is that I’m a complete tightwad. I simply cannot pass a deal up for a costlier alternative. This may sound like rational thinking, but I assure you it is not. The best example here is that a 6 inch chicken breast sub is four dollars, whereas a 12 inch sub is only one dollar more. What this translates to is my never having bought a six inch sub in the entirety of my Subway experience. This, in and of itself, would not be such a bad thing, if not for another small neurosis of mine, which is to say that I absolutely cannot do doggy bags. Moreover, it’s easier for me to decide to pass up a camping trip with pals in order to stay home and spend the weekend listening to light jazz and catching up on Oprah’s book club than it is for me to stop eating at the six inch mark and just wrap the other darned half up and put it in the fridge.

So, I don’t know the exact moral of the story here. Is it “be careful what you wish for?” Is it “the grass is always greener on the other side?” Or is something more along the lines of, “Reuben, it’s time to wake up and get back to the heart of American office ritual: the two hour lunch?” Only time will tell. I’ll keep you posted.

Subway on Urbanspoon

Friday, June 5, 2009

Erie Island Coffee Co.

Gateway District/E 4th St
2057 E 4th St
Cleveland, OH 44115
(216) 394-0093

By Beau Cadiyo

I tried to like Erie Island Coffee Co. – I really did. The interior has an aquatic feel, like a well-appointed luxury ship, with comfortable-looking chairs, excellent use of metal and brilliant color combinations. The coffee was stellar – strong, hot and potent, and not as bitter as Starbucks. The location couldn’t be better – it seems made for East Fourth, and I’m shocked that there wasn’t a hip, independent coffee shop there before now. The staff were nice, professional and struck me as creative and hip.

What initially impressed me the most, though, was the price of the sandwiches. At around $5, they were VERY reasonable for the street (which boasts Lola and Greenhouse Tavern just across the way). I would have paid a lot more for what I expected. Instead, I paid too much for what I got.

To be clear, it wasn’t bad. The egg was unexceptional, but with rare exceptions (all in Europe) I’ve not had exceptional eggs. The bacon was tasty, but there wasn’t much of it. My girlfriend, who won’t eat pork was able to take two large bites without getting even a whiff of it. The bread was quite delicious, but there wasn’t much, and even delicious bread can only get you so far.

Was it good? Sure, I guess. But there’s a trend here that bothers me. First, many truly good restaurants serve food in small portions, or at least don’t serve massive portions. I think it’s either a quality-control issue or a marketing scarcity issue. Regardless, the less people can get of something, the better they think it is – gold, for example, or Tickle Me Elmos from several Christmases past. Naturally, then, people learn to equate smaller amounts – or portions - with quality.

What I suspect, though, is that some restaurants are trying to make people think that their otherwise good food is excellent by serving it in small portions. It’s the same thing that DeBeers did with diamonds – they have vast vaults of diamonds ready to sell, but they only release some in order to keep prices artificially high. Erie, I feel, is doing just this – they’re serving an ok product in small quantities to make it seem better than it actually is. They needn’t have resorted to this sort of trickery. Considering the prices at nearby restaurants, they could have made the sandwiches bigger, increased the price and still competed with their neighbors, but on good quality at large quantity. After all, what coffee shop is going to compete with Michael Symon or Jonathon Sawyer on gourmet quality?

I’d come optimistic and hopeful, ordered excitedly and left partially disappointed. The coffee WAS quite excellent, the interior WAS stunning, the staff WAS nice, and I want to help local, independent businesses when possible. But unless something changes – the size of the sandwiches, the quality or the price – then I won’t be eating there again. A Lola Burger is a much more attractive option. If you’re on East Fourth and want coffee, by all means, go to Lake Erie. If you’re looking for food, though, there are plenty of better options.

Erie Island Coffee Co. on Urbanspoon