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

No comments: