Gotta have taste
I received more responses to my recent review of The Cheese Steak Shop than anything I have ever written for the CN&R (all of them of the “right on, girl!” type, except for one, from a person who hadn’t eaten there but simply felt sorry that the franchise owner might lose business). Who would have thought that a little ol’ sandwich could generate such interest?
One reader (I’ll call him Bob) who wrote me a nice, supportive e-mail—and whose Philly cred includes having eaten cheese steaks at Pat’s in Philadelphia and teaching “Little Joe,” who runs the famous Geno’s (also in Philly) for his father, how to ride a motorcycle—turned me on to his favorite cheese steak place around here: Kathy’s Deli. Bob described its cheese steak sandwiches as “the best I have found so far in our area.” He recommended I check it out and update readers with my findings. Bob was so sure of the deliciousness of Kathy’s cheese steaks that he told me that if I didn’t like it, I could give him the receipt and he would “personally pay [me] back for one large sandwich.”
How could I pass up that offer?
I took my brother and taste-testing companion Scott with me to the family-owned Kathy’s Deli on a recent Saturday afternoon, at about 2 p.m., right in between lunch and dinnertime. We each ordered regular-size (9-inch) cheese steak sandwiches ($6.15) with grilled onions, and cheese (60 cents) and bell peppers (60 cents), an order of fries (one size: $1.55) and sodas.
The counterperson gave us our drinks and we sat at a table in Kathy’s small dining area that contains only five tables, one of them just a two-seater, with some Ferrari and Porsche posters on the walls. In no time, our order of fries arrived—amply-sized and piping hot. As we sat there chatting, sipping and munching on perfect French fries, we couldn’t help but notice how busy Kathy’s was. Even at that time of day, people were coming and going the entire time—some staying to eat at an open table, others picking up to-go orders. We counted about 30 people in about 15 minutes. If we hadn’t known better, we could have been sitting inside any busy, popular restaurant on a big-city street corner.
And the sandwiches? My first comment upon their arrival was, “Damn, they’re big!”
Made on huge, tasty, flaky sub rolls baked daily and without preservatives by Kathy’s Deli, our cheese steak sandwiches were packed with steaming-hot grilled beef, melted white American cheese with grilled onions and peppers. Scott. noticing the tenderness of the meat, said “You barely have to chew it.”
I, pepper freak that I am, delighted in the noticeable taste, bite after bite, of black pepper grilled in with the yummy meat.
Scott happily finished his sandwich (he’s a big guy), calling it “just right.” I tried to eat all of mine, but couldn’t. Next time, I would order a small (6-inch) or even a “petite” (4-inch) sandwich, depending on how hungry I was. A really hungry person can order the “Bigfoot” (12 inches).
Scott and I agreed that we would order pepperoncinis instead of bell peppers on our next cheese steak because we like their bite. We didn’t realize we had more options when we ate at Kathy’s this first time around because they’re not listed on the wall menu, only on the paper “to-go” menu.
Tip: Grab the paper menu right off the bat to realize all your cheese steak options at Kathy’s. Besides cheese, onions, mushrooms and bell peppers, you can also choose a white or wheat roll, mayo, mustard, lettuce, tomatoes, pickles and pepperoncinis. And then order yourself one kick-ass cheese steak sandwich.