Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Kazansky's Delicatessen

Connor's Turkey Club at Kazansky's is a work of art. Every element of this sandwich inidcates the care and thought of the sandwich-creator.
First the bread. Ah, the bread. It is toasted challah--fresh, airy, and sliced thick. Only two pieces, alas. The only way to improve this lovely club would have been to make it a double-decker, in the traditional club style.
The bacon was amazing. crisp and all doubled over in crunchy bubbles. Too often, crisp bacon means charred bacon, but not this time. It was the perfect complement to the thinly-sliced turkey. I've never had such tender turkey.
This club is generous with the vegetables, too. Lots of fresh, high-quality veggies on a club indicates a confidence in the meat. The turkey and bacon on this sandwich are so outstanding, there is no way they could possibly be overwhelmed by the tomato and lettuce, so let's go ahead and include plenty of them. That seems to be a theme of Connor's Club.
But the meta-message of the club at Kazansky's is the beauty of the sandwich, the exquisite versatility of the form, and the tansendance that may be acheived, brieflly, in the experience of persuing the ideal.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

The Apple Cleanse

Since Clubs Are Trump is about eating sandwiches covered in bacon, I thought it might not be a bad idea to interrupt the Club Sandwich Tour of Pittsburgh for a one-day cleanse.

Healing with Whole Foods by Paul Pitchford describes this treatment as the Gall Bladder Flush, and recommends that it "be done with the guidance of an experienced health practitioner." But mine wasn't.

Pitchford's flush entails eating nothing but apples all day long. As many apples as you want, with water or herbal tea to drink. The final touch is a mixture of olive oil and lemon juice, drunk just before bed.

I've been aware lately of an increased feeling of biliousness, figuratively speaking. So, when I saw that simply eating lots of apples (and nothing else) might help, I thought it might be worth a try. Besides, it's apple season.

I got my apples at the farmers market. Pink Lady, Winesap, and Granny Smith, from Paul's Orchard, Joffre PA. All of them were crisp, juicy, sweet-tart and delectable.
I had two big Pink Ladies for breakfast, and I wasn't hungry again until lunchtime, at 1:00. (I'm frequently hungry way before lunchtime. That didn't happen after a breakfast of apples.) At lunch I had apple slices, about 2.5 apples' worth. By late afternoon, I wasn't exactly hungry, but I was tired. And kind of spacey. And when I saw others eating bread and butter, or fried rice, or corn chips, I did feel a certain longing.

Dinner was a large dish of sliced apples--four or five apples, several varieties. By evening I was tired, and I didn't feel especially focused, but that's not all that unusual after a hard day of work, so who's to say the nothing-but-apples diet was to blame?

The lemon juice and olive oil mixture was a pretty chartreuse color, and not too yucky. It tasted like salad dressing. Two or three spoonsful were nice. By the fourth or fifth spoonful I was getting tired of it. After eight or nine spoonsful, I said the hell with it and didn't drink the rest.

But I drizzled some of it on my toast the next morning. It was good, and I was happy to be back on regular food again. Also coffee. I had missed coffee.

I ate my toast, drank my coffee, went for a walk, and concluded that the apple cleanse didn't really make a difference. Eating nothing but apples was just that, nothing more nothing less. I got to enjoy an abundance of farm-fresh local apples, but well, it didn't exactly revoluntionize my life.

Until later that afternoon. Twenty-four hours past my three-apple-lunch, I felt cleansed. I felt light. I felt like I'd been living my life filthy and bloated for so long that I'd come to think of filthy and bloated as a normal state, and now that I knew the difference, I would never let myself get so sludgy and sluggish ever again.
That is not to say I am giving up club sandwiches. Perish the thought. The Club Tour must, and will, go on. But we'll stop for apples every so often.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Bloomfield Sandwich Shop

Warm, welcoming, generous.

That is the Bloomfield Sandwich Shop, and that is the delicious sandwich I had there.

There is no club per se on the Bloomfield Sandwich Shop's menu, but there is a grilled chicken sandwich. And when you order the grilled-chicken sandwich, you can ask for it on toast, with bacon. And they'll offer you lettuce, tomato, mayonnaise. So, even though they may eschew pretentious labels, they do make a sandwich very much like a club.

Very much like the ideal club. The grilled chicken was a juicy, flavorful delight. And it was a nice big piece. No stinting on the chicken. Or on the bacon. There was so much bacon, I almost felt guilty. I expect the bacon to be more like a topping, but in this sandwich, it was a filling. There was almost as much bacon as there was chicken. And there was almost as much tomato and lettuce as there was bacon--a lovely, wavy wedge of lettuce and a thick slice of tomato were right there beneath the top slice of crispy white toast.

Everything about this sandwich said, enjoy.

And I really, really did.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Perk Me Up

This stop on the Club Sandwich Tour comes down to one question: Do you like avocado?

If you do (and I do! I do! I do!) then this is the sandwich for you.

The "Tenth Ward Turkey" is all about slippery green avocado coming together with crisp, salty, smoky bacon in a delicious sandwich.

There's turkey here, too, and Swiss cheese and enough leafy lettuce to make you feel that you're getting a serving of veggies in, even before you get to the yummy (and healthy!) corn-and-bean salad. The bread, I'm sorry to say, was just ordinary. But they offer this sandwich as a wrap, too. Might be worth a try.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Club Sandwich & Deli

Remember that advertising jingle that went “Have it your way…”? Well, of course, what it truly meant was: If what you want is a mass-produced burger on an insubstantial bun, then you can have your choice of condiments on it.

And that’s unfortunate, because after visiting Club Sandwich and Deli in Sharpsburg, I’ve been running around joyously singing, “have it your way!” and meaning it.

Club Sandwich and Deli lets you design the club sandwich of your dreams. Lots of places make sandwiches to order, but this set-up is special. The menu emphasizes double (or triple!) -decker sandwiches. Bacon is included.

Let me say that again. Bacon is included. Like, it is assumed that your sandwich is going to have bacon on it.

In addition to the bacon, you pick two kinds of meat. And cheese, if you want it.

I got the turkey club—turkey and turkey and bacon, lettuce, tomato, on white bread, green frill picks, and the most delicious, amazing, playfully sweet-yet-tangy, fresh-tasting, crisp pickle slices I’ve had in a very long time.

The turkey was fresh and layered on generously, but without making the sandwich too huge and daunting.

See that little vat of sauce, lower left? That is horseradish-rosemary sauce. Delicious, smooth and sweet. I thought it was a classy touch.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Dunning's Grill

“I’ll have what she’s having.”

If only I’d said that.
Instead, I said, “I’d like the chicken club.”
And this is what I got.
A delicious sandwich, to be sure, but not a club. No way, no how.

Dunnings has three “clubs” listed on its menu. And I saw someone at an adjacent table eating a club-looking club sandwich—double-decker, lettuce, tomato, etc. She must have known what to order. Counterintuitively, not the Chicken Club. The “Chicken Club” is a chicken breast, topped with bacon and melted provolone and served warm on a fluffy white bun. No frill picks, no veggies, no toast, nothing in common with a club sandwich, except the bacon.

This anti-club wasn’t bad. In fact, for a non-club-sandwich sandwich, it was pretty tasty. The bacon was plentiful, slightly chewy, cozy warm. The cheese was melty in the middle, grilled-crispy on the sides. The chicken itself was moist. I think it really could have used some lettuce and tomato, but that might just be my club-sandwich wistfulness speaking.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Deli on Butler Street

The American Club at Deli on Butler Street in Lawrenceville is a superior sandwich.

Someone at the Deli on Butler Street knows where to get good tomatoes. Look at 'em -- bright red, muscular. I never realized how much the tomato slice added to the club sandwich experience until I got this really, really good one. And look at that lettuce -- green and leafy. Yum. None of this flavorless crunchy or--God forbid--shredded stuff. The veggies make a difference. Veggies on a club. Yur doin it right.

But really, who has time to contemplate the veggies when the meat on the sandwich is this good? This club has both turkey and ham. I love that. It seems so generous. In fact, it doesn't just seem generous, it is generous. There is a lot of meat on this sandwich. And that's before we even get to the bacon.

Know what they do with the bacon here? They crumble it! What a good idea. It makes getting a mouthful of sandwich a completely different experience. Forget the tension of incisors struggling against crisp or chewey bacon. Instead, the crumbles tumble into the mouth, along with the ham and turkey, the gentle lettuce and the tangy tomato. Ah.

The bread is light, fresh Italian bread. Delicious bread, nothing wrong with it. Except. And I feel churlish even bringing this up, but it isn't really the right kind of bread for a club. I can't help but feel that white toast--or even Italian toast, just toast the delicious bread they already have-- would perfect this sandwich. Let the club be itself. The toast is as much a part of the club personality as the bacon or turkey or the double layer.

Double layer! There is no double decker here. You know, the sandwich was so yummy that I almost overlooked this major structural flaw. Isn't a club, by definintion, a double-decker sandwich? Maybe, maybe not. We've encounterd the single-layer club previously on this tour. Maybe it's a deli thing. Further research is required.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Pamela's Diner

I figured an establishment whose founders had been summoned to the White House to make pancakes for President Obama's Memorial Day breakfast would serve an outstanding club sandwich.

And the turkey on this club was certainly out of the ordinary: slabs of carved roast turkey breast, like Thanksgiving Day leftovers, not like deli turkey at all.

In the company of Presidential-quality pancakes, I expect a higher standard of club sandwich ingredients. The turkey was first-rate; the tomato was world-class, so why were they on a sandwich with processed American cheez fuud and Big-Mac-style lettuce?

And even though the pickle garnishes were adorable, they left the toast all mushy on top.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Eat'n Park (Edgewood)

It stands to reason that the same restaurant which offers such a tantalizing variety of Smiley Face Cookie colors would offer a chromatic banquet of frill picks on their club sandwich. Green! Blue! Yellow! Even an unusual orange one. Maybe they have a big vat of them back in the kitchen, frill picks to match every color of the Smiley Cookie palette.

And speaking of vats, this club sandwich comes with a petite vat of mayonnaise in the center of the plate. The diner can choose how little or how much mayo to put on the sandwich. It's all about empowering the customer, I guess.

I didn't feel empowered. I felt put-out. Would it really have been that much trouble for the chef to spread some mayo on the toast? Maybe it's not about customer empowerment at all, maybe it's just more cost-effective to have the customer finish preparing the sandwich.

Luckily, the carnival of frill picks jollied me right out of my disappointment in the mayo situation.
The sandwich was tasty: lots of salty bacon, thick piles of shaved turkey. The tomatoes were fresh and flavorful. The cheese was unnecessary, but it wasn't bad, and at least I didn't have to put it on the sandwich myself.

It was a good sandwich, though. By the end of the meal, I looked like this.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Kelly O's Diner

Does Kelly O's Diner have club sandwiches? They have an entire section of the menu devoted to clubs.

The turkey and bacon club was the traditional double-decker sandwich. Served with potato chips and a pickle, held together with frill picks, it was a good sandwich. It had thick slices of roast turkey and plenty of bacon. I was happy with it.

Until I tried the fried egg and bacon club. Yum! I'd ordered the wrong one. In my adherence to club sandwich orthodoxy, I'd missed a thrilling twist on the traditional club. The fried egg and bacon club was moist but not greasy, cheesy but not gooey, breakfastly aromatic, but neatly accessorized with lettuce and tomato for lunch.

The Pittsburgh Club Sandwich Tour may make future stops at Kelly O's Diner. There are still the Ham-n-Cheese club and the Bacon Cheeseburger Club left to try.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

What's Cookin' at Casey's

Ooh, look. Turkey and ham! That's nice. Cole slaw in a pretty dish! That's nice. Colorful frill picks! That's nice.
Take a bite. Chew.
Ugh! What is that? Whatever it is, it is not nice.
It turned out to be a chunk of gristle in the ham. Large, extensive region of gristle. I had to remove most of the ham--and this sandwich did not stint on the ham--to be sure to be rid of the gristle. And then, even with my club all but de-hammed, I was still cautious about taking a bite. What if I got another mouthful of that foul, chewy cartilage or connective tissue or whatever it is gristle is made of?
Did you know, prior to being the Ace of Clubs, I was a vegetarian for many years? I was. I've been back to meat-eating habits for a long time now, but I spent most of my teens as a veggie. And you know why? Gristle. (Yeah, also animal rights and nutrition and wanting to fit in with the cool neo-pseudo-hippie veggie kids, but mostly gristle avoidance.)
Even though the non-gristly portion of the club at What's Cookin' at Casey's was perfectly satisfactory, the feeling of gristle between my teeth and the sight of my eviscerated sandwich on my plate was almost enough to make me run screaming back into The Enchanted Broccoli Forest.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Liberty Avenue Deli and Smoothies

Not a club.

The "Turkey club" at Liberty Avenue Deli and Smoothies is a yummy turkey sandwich with bacon. It is tasty; it is filling, but it is not a club.

It's a nice lunch, though. It comes on a ciabatta roll (not three pieces of toast, alas!) The roll would have been good, but it was mushily soaked through with mayonnaise. I detest a dry sandwich as much as the next guy, but there's really no need for that much mayo.

Especially because the turkey wasn't dry. It was great! There is lots of turkey on this sandwich, and it is fresh and flavorful. The bacon was good, too. Actually, I seldom meet a bacon I don't like, but this bacon was especially likable. It was smoky and salty, and even though there wasn't a ton of it on the sandwich, it was not overwhelmed by the generous portion of turkey.

Lettuce, check. Tomato, check. Onions, check.

Onions? No onions, please, not on a club. And especially not this club because I asked for them to be left off. But I got onions anyway. Oh well. Also a nice piece of Swiss cheese. Pickle included. Chips sold separately.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

The Grant Bar Club

The Grant Bar Club is close to perfection. It is the traditional turkey club, served on three pieces of toast, cut in quarters, held together with frill picks.

It had the thickest layer of deli turkey I've seen on a club, but the turkey didn't overpower the rest of the sandwich. It was, instead, the foundation for a formidable (and delectable) tower of bliss. The lettuce was fresh. The tomatoes were ripe. The bacon--oh, the bacon!--the bacon was plentiful and chewey to just the right degree. And guess what...

There was an egg. A fried egg on the club sandwich! I know, it sounds like showing off. But it wasn't. The egg was just tucked in there, subtley flavorful, and not greasy at all. A bonus.

Have we found club sandwich perfection, a mere three stops in on the Club Sandwich Tour? Why even bother continuing the tour, now that we know where to find such an embodiment of the club sandwich ideal?

We may be pleasantly surprised. Who knows, there may be comprable (or, dare I hope, even better?) sandwiches as yet undiscovered.

Future club sandwiches will all be compared to the delicious, attractive, fresh, savory, Grant Bar Club.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Gullifty's Grilled Club

Know what's off-putting? A dry club sandwich -- sandpapery bread, dessicated chicken. There's nothing worse.

Oh, wait, yes there is.

The whole point of a sandwich is to have a meal that can be eaten without silverwear, while still leaving the hands clean and free to play cards. A greasy club misses the whole point. And the Gullifty's grilled club was so greasy, I went through three napkins the first three times I touched my sandwich. Finally, I gave up and ate it with my knife and fork.
The bread was thick and chewey-- not in a good way. And shredded lettuce is weird on a club.
It wasn't dry, though.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Shit Sandwich

This not a stop on the Club Sandwich Tour, just a metaphorical look at relationships.

Suppose you are at your favorite lunch spot, and you are famished. You have before you your usual delicious club sandwich--chicken and bacon with lettuce, tomato and mayo, on three slices of white toast, cut in quarters, pricked with frill picks, and served with a plethora of crispy, salty potato chips. Now, suppose, on top of that mound of light and golden chips, you see a small piece of hair. Say it's an eyelash.

What do you do?

What I would do is this: Throw away the hair, throw away the chip it was on and all surrounding chips. Then eat the rest of the chips and the delicious club sandwich. Wouldn't you?

BUT, suppose you have the bounty of chips and a double-decker sandwich on white toast with frilly picks, but instead of chicken, bacon, or any other filling, the sandwich is filled with shit.

You wouldn't eat any of it. Not even a corner of the one chip farthest from the sandwich. Even if it had been your favorite lunch spot for years, you would never, ever go back.

Well, I wouldn't.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Camille's Club

Bacon and ham? Really? I can have both?
Plus turkey and cheese and lettuce and tomato and mayo?

Who says you can't have it all? Camille's Club at Camille's Sidewalk Cafe has it: provolone and swiss; three flavors of tortilla chip; toothpicks shaped like swords!

Friday, May 29, 2009

California Club @ Eatunique

The California Club at Eatunique is not a club sandwich per se. It is more like a chicken sandwich with bacon and Swiss on foccacia.

When I tell you that what I liked best about this sandwich was the wrapper, that's not to say it wasn't a good sandwich. It's just that the presentation was so outstanding. I ordered this sandwich to go, and it came to me in a crisp white paper bag, wrapped in deli paper, and ensconced in tinfoil. It was like a present, a treasure, a bride.

There were at least six stips of bacon on this sandwich, so it wasn't that there was a bacon shortage, but there was so much chicken, the bacon was more like a garnish. The chicken was so juicy, I wouldn't even have missed the mayo, but it was a welcome flavor. The foccacia bread was crunchy yet tender, with visible grill marks.

The California Club at Eatunique isn't really a club, but it is still a delicious sandwich.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Any Club that Would Have Me

The traditional club sandwich is a double-decker sandwich on white toast. It has chicken, bacon, lettuce and tomato, and maybe cheese. Ideally, it is cut in fourths and served with a frilly toothpick in each section.

But what about variations on the theme? If I have a single-decker sandwich of chicken, bacon, lettuce and tomato on white toast, is it a club? What if I have a double-decker sandwich, served on white toast, cut in fourths, served with frilly toothpicks, but instead of chicken, it has roast beef? What if there's avocado on it? What if the chef substitutes ham for bacon?

At heart, I am a club sandwich purist. My ideal club looks like the one described in Professional Cooking by Wayne Gisslin. (see page 743.)

As I conduct my personal club sandwich tour, I won't rule out the variations, but I'll always be searing for the club sandwich that most closely approaches my Platonic club sandwich ideal.