Sunday, October 27, 2013

WTF: Is it just me or is Granite City really starting to suck?

I have to say, my last several outings to Granite City have left me seriously unimpressed.  When the place was first open, it was sparkly, new, had things on the menu that were at least twists on the same-old-same-old fare of other locations, and they brewed their own beer.  On premises.  I really liked some of the things on the menu, such as the roast beef sandwich, the London broil sandwich, the chicken burrito, and the soups.

Despite a couple remodels, time has not exactly been kind to GC.  If you ask me, the place is getting a tad threadbare, and worse yet, the food is changing.

I think it all started going wrong when they stopped brewing on premises.  Granted in today's beer snob world, GC doesn't have the bestest beers, but I always appreciated the effort and almost always have one of their beers when I visit.  I believe I heard or was told at one point that the reason for off-premises brewing was the need to somehow standardize product across the franchise chain.  God forbid someone get a Duke in St. Cloud that tastes different than the same offering in Omaha.

Unfortunately, some of the best things GC has ever had on the menu are gone, or worse yet, altered for the worse.  Two examples jump to mind.

First example.  Several years ago, GC introduced a new burger, the Napa Valley Burger.  I don't know what screamed "wine country" about it, but it was good.  As a matter of fact, it shared many of the finest qualities of the legendary lamb burger that McNally's had years ago.  (Another great item that is now as dead as the dinosaurs.)  The Napa Valley Burger was topped with grilled prosciutto, mozzarella cheese, avocado spread, and greens cooked with some balsamic reduction. It was served on focaccia.  Really, a nice offering and a tasty departure from burger boredom.  I used to have it almost every time I visited GC.

Second example.  Granite City changed it's barbecue sauce formula.  This may seem relatively insignificant in the grander scheme of things, but as I have tried to point out ad nauseam, little details can make big differences in food.  The barbecue sauce is used on a couple of items, such as a burger known as the Bedda Chedda Burger and an open-faced meatloaf sandwich.  The former iteration of the sauce was pretty much straight up old school barbecue sauce- sweet and tangy.  The new and "improved" sauce boasts a "coffee bean" component.  It's too sweet.  I had it on an open faced meatloaf sandwich, that had I known included the sauce, I would have asked that it be left off.  I think the folks at GC have their doubts about the new barbecue sauce, too.  One of their recent special chef's features menus included the Bedda Chedda Burger with the OLD sauce.  (Also a pretty good burger, by the way.  Cheddar cheese, bacon, barbecue sauce and an onion ring.)

My Midwestern passive aggression can get me around the other things I don't care for at Granite City, such as the relentless efforts of the staff to up-sell everything.  I.E. "Would you like to substitute waffle fries?"  If so, "Would you like to add our Granite City Dip for those waffle fries?"  I can also get past the regular as clockwork visit from the manager on duty and first name introductions from the bartenders.  I know I can get snootier brew elsewhere, but a big mug of Benny and Duke mixed together is often very nice.  But, irrespective, good food needs to be the foundation of any restaurant experience.  Stellar service doesn't fix slipping food.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Nutty's No More! Where will all the nuts hang out?

Nutty's at it's original location at 49th and Westport is no more.  During the last couple of weeks, it has undergone a huge transformation and is now BB's.  It's a big change.

Nutty's was an interesting place.  For a long time, it was pretty much the anchor of the small shopping center there.  Places like Sun & Fun, Balloons, Bears & Bouquets, and TCBY have come and gone, but Nutty's stayed the course.  Nutty's always intrigued me, primarily because the place was physically kind of like a kid's tree house or fort that was continually upgraded and added onto.  When the place first opened, it occupied only the corner of the building.  I do not recall if there was a deck at that point. (It's been a long, long time.)  I recall a pool table or two, but the real stand out feature was a shuffleboard game.  And, of course, there were plenty of peanuts to enjoy with a cold beverage.

As the years rolled by, every once in a while, there would be an addition to the place.  At it's peak, Nutty's featured a sunroom, a three-season screened-in porch, a deck, and a built-in bird sanctuary.  They also featured frozen concoctions (boozie slurpies a/k/a brunch of choice in Las Vegas or New Orleans) and an impressive row of beer taps.

A few weeks ago, I met a friend for a beer at Nutty's while they were mid-transition.  What a change!  The entrance is on the east side of the building off the deck.  Gone were the bird cages and cobbled together elements of the old location.  It's now a much more unified sort of space, but with enough of the old to remind you of the building's past.

I must say, the menu looks pretty good, and I am looking forward to giving a few things a try.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Defensive Ordering

If you have to travel for work, or kid activities, or even travel for fun, there are going to be times you end up in food deserts.  These are the sorts of places where you desperately want to get a good meal, but it just ain't going to happen.  You could be stuck at a hotel that has kind of a crummy restaurant for a conference, and even though you know there are other decent places around, you aren't going to be visiting them.  At times like this, one has to employ defensive ordering techniques.

1.  Set your expectations accordingly.  That doesn't mean to set them to "abysmally low" or "without any hope whatsoever."  Really low expectations will only jade you and pretty much guarantee the whole experience is going to suck.  I suggest you train you mind to be guardedly optimistic.  Besides, how well this works out is going to depend on your ordering skills.

2.  Be observant and ask questions.  There is probably something on the menu that someone in the kitchen is pretty good at making.  It's you're job to figure out what.  Are people at other tables eating pasta dishes and enjoying them?  Is no one in the whole house eating fish?  Is there a special?  As the server what the joint is best known for or what the best-selling items are.  Ask if the chef has any favorites.  These are usually safe bets.

3.  Don't order funky stuff.  What's funky stuff? Well, if you're in say Aberdeen or Watertown at the local Ramkota/Minerva's-lite branch office, just how fresh do you think a fish selection is?  Chances are you saw it at Sam's Club.  You can also pretty much bet that very few, if any, of the pasta sauces are being made in-house.

4.  Stick to the straight-forward.  If you're at one of these places in South Dakota, your best bet is probably a steak.  Theoretically pretty hard to screw up.  Be careful with adding funky toppings and sauces.  If you want to try one, best to ask for them on the side so you can control your dosage.  Chicken dishes are probably good choices.  Unless you know the soups are made in-house and look good, stick with the dumb house salad.

5.  Never, never, never take out a bad experience on the servers.  One thing I tend to see in some of these outpost locations is that the veteran servers are not so polished themselves, yet they have trainees in tow.  Around me I usually observe lots of mistakes and people sending items back to the kitchen.  I've ordered good wine off the list and when the staff presents the nicest Reidel glasses in the joint, they are covered with water spots.  This goes back to expectations.  Deal with it.  If something rises to the level of needing fixing, be polite and get it fixed, but don't be a total jackass about it.

If you survive the whole experience, reward yourself by finding something local and good to enjoy and wash the taste of bitter resentment right out of your mouth.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Forking Around in the Kitchen: Pan Bagnat

Hello, and welcome to today's edition of Forking Around in the Kitchen, with your guide, The Secret Fork.  Today, we are going to discuss something I have teased my small handful of followers with on Twitter.  Yes, it's the Undisputed King of Summer Sandwiches, the Pan Bagnat.

For me, this sandwich showcases one of the best ingredients that summer has to offer: the tomato.  It's a perfect sandwich for a picnic.  It's also a good example of principles that I believe are critical to good cooking.  Last point of intro-- I don't believe anyone can claim to be a true "foodie" unless he or she also cooks or tries to cook.  It's critical for a total understanding of food, and what it takes to make a memorable dish that nourishes body and soul.

Okay, first things first.  What is Pan Bagnat?  Basically, a tuna sandwich.  I understand Pan Bagnat translates as "wet bread."  Hell if I know for sure.  I do know it's origins are in Provence, the southern regions of France.  It is sometimes referred to as a Nicoise Tuna Sandwich.

Here is the method I use, which is essentially a compilation of internet research, reading cookbooks, and my own experience in the kitchen.  As I mentioned, this recipe/method exemplifies some of the things I have come to understand as basic principles of cooking.

Principle:  Get the best ingredients you can and don't screw them up.  The most critical ingredient is a good, perfectly ripe, juicy tomato.  (Not tuna, but that's important, too.)  Pick your favorite variety.  Grow your own, or get it from a farmer's market.  If you cannot get a super-duper-uber-duber good tomato don't make this.  While you are at the market, or in the garden, pick up a nice onion, and a bunch of fresh radishes.  Also, grab some decent, organic, cage free eggs.  Maybe a little basil.  Now, off to a reputable grocer.  You need some canned tuna, and by canned, I ideally mean in a jar.  The expensive stuff.  It's probably from Spain or Italy and it's packed in olive oil.  Cans are okay as long as you are getting a good, imported can.  Don't skimp on this!  For two sandwiches that are each the size of those twin French loaves from Hy Vee, you are going to need the equivalent of two cans.  You are also going to need some extra virgin olive oil.  Ideally, it's from Provence.  If you have a REALLY good friend, he/she will get you some for your birthday.  You also need some decent cured black olives.  Nicoise preferred, Kalmata acceptable.  Out of a can, not acceptable.  You also need some bread.  I use those French twin loaves from Hy Vee.  Crazy as that business sounds, it seems to work well.  I have not tried a more artisinal bread like a baguette from Breadico or Breadsmith, but that might be okay.  With this sandwich, the bread is just the vessel to shove this gooey goodness into your face.

Oh.  Also, pick up some red wine vinegar, a lemon, and grab the pepper mill and sea salt.

Principle:  Technique matters.  One thing you need to do is hard boil a few eggs.  If you do this right, they are perfectly cooked.  Soft and yummy and yell.  Not rubbery with greenish yolks.  Put them into a big pan that will allow them to be covered by at least an inch of cold water.  Keep the lid handy and put the pan on the stove over high heat.  Stick around the kitchen and watch this.  At the very moment the water pools, pull the pan off the heat, cover the pan and start a timer counting down from 10 minutes.  Go get an ice bath ready-- a decent sized bowl full of water and ice.  Stand by the stove and await the timer going off.  When it does, use a slotted spoon to immediately remove the eggs from the hot water and put them in the ice bath to thoroughly cool and stop the cooking.  Store them in the fridge if not using them right away.  Next technique, get out a sharp knife and finely dice something short of a half cup of that nice onion you bought.  Put it in a bowl that you will use to mix the tuna.  Sprinkle it with a little salt and pepper and a few tablespoons of red wine vinegar.  I suppose you could use balsamic.  I haven't.  Let this sit a bit-- at least 5-10 minutes.  This mellows the onion and marries the flavors.  At the end, knead the onions and vinegar mixture.

Principle: Taste as you go.  Open that jar of tuna in oil and dump the whole shebang into that onion love.  Oil and all.  Stir that up, breaking up the big tuna chunks.  Squeeze a teaspoon, or so, of lemon juice in there.  Taste it.  Add pepper or salt if need be.  Or more vinegar.  Taste.  Think.  Adjust.  When you are happy, stop.

Now, it's assembly time.  Cut the bread in half and pluck out the soft innards from the middle.  This is an essential step.  If you don't do this, you are going to have a pile of goo.  I drizzle a little of that good olive oil on the bread.  Put that tuna mixture on your sandwich in a nice thick layer.  Use it all.

Next, I slice some radishes and put them on top of the tuna.  Slice the hard boiled egg and put those slices on.  Next, the olives.  (Make sure they are pitted.)  At this point, I might sprinkle a little more vinegar or lemon and a drizzle of oil.  Slice the tomato and layer those slices on there.  Definitely anoint that with some of the good oil-- just a drizzle and a little salt and pepper.  If you are so inclined, you could put a couple basil leaves on there, or a little lettuce for texture.  Romaine, butter lettuce or leaf.  Put the top of the bread on.  Ideally, the fillings are pretty much entirely in the hollowed out parts of the loaf.

Principle:  Timing matters  The next step is critical.  I cut the sandwich into the portions I want to serve.  Get out the plastic wrap and pull of a nice long sheet.  You are going to wrap that sandwich tightly.  Don't squeeze the life out of it, but wrap it so it is perfectly smushed together.  Put it in the fridge overnight.  This allows all those good flavors in there to mix, mingle, and shack up.  This is also why this is a perfect picnic sandwich.  It can be tossed into a cooler with a bunch of other stuff.  A little pressing doesn't hurt it.  Don't throw a case of cheap beer on it, but don't baby it.  The bag the loaves of bread came in is an ideal wrapper.

That's it.  I like to make sure I take the sandwich out of the fridge or cooler about 30 to 60 minutes before I eat it.  Eat the sandwich outside with a good friend.

Principle:  Experiment and make it your own.  This isn't the formula for making the Polyjuice Potion.  You can adjust to your own tastes.  For instance.  You could use white wine or balsamic vinegar.  You could add a little bit of herbs d'Provence in the tuna.  You can add some sliced green onion.  You could put some anchovy fillets on top of the tuna layer.  You could use Kaiser rolls instead of a baguette to make Sliders Bagnat.


Saturday, May 25, 2013

Dammit! Bad intel on this one!

Turns out my source was totally off on this one.  However, opening a chainy, kid-friendly, sports-barry food place right out at the sports complex is ingenious.  Personally, I will never go there for all of those reasons, but still, this is really smart.

Is that a helpful smile or a smug smirk?

Unless you haven't been paying attention, I have a love-hate, passive-aggressive relationship with the area's largest retail grocery store.  To give credit where credit is due, I like and appreciate the convenience of the local Hy Vee stores.  Within my regular routes of travel, I have several options to dash in and get some things.  I also appreciate the financial investment into the local stores.  If nothing else, they are all quite nice and clean.

All of this gets derailed, of course, when I actually have to go inside and make purchases.

Meat pricing has driven me absolutely bonkers for years.  It's an absolute scam.  Case in point.  Just last evening, I had to stop and get a couple items to fulfill a dinner request at home.  While strolling by the meat counter to get some chicken breasts (the ones on meat trays for $3.49 a pound as opposed to the exact same ones in the full-service counter for $3.99 a pound), I noticed some nice big T-Bone steaks offered for $15 a piece.  The little sign says they are like 1.5 pounds.  Right next to them were the exact same steaks, cut a little thinner, for something like $8.99 a pound.  Do the math.  I did and confirmed that bigger steak was over-priced.  If you buy steaks, or pork chops, or whatever, by the piece out of the Hy Vee meat counter, there is about a 98 to 1 chance you are screwing yourself. Check it out.

Last week I needed a pound of bulk Italian sausage for a breakfast recipe.  I didn't have time to make sausage.  Fortunately, Hy Vee had some bulk sausage in the meat case.  Unfortunately, it was pre-packaged.  I hate that because you can NEVER get a pound.  The stuff is ALWAYS portioned in the range of 1.2 to 1.4 pounds.  (Unlike the green beans mentioned below, you really can't re-package this yourself.)

Of course, this sort of chicanery occurs all throughout the store.  Over in the dairy aisle, you will find the blocks of ubiquitous Hy Vee brand cheese- sharp cheddar, mild cheddar, Monterrey Jack, mozzarella, etc.  The blocks generally come in three sizes- 8 oz, 16 oz and 24 oz.  The pricing, however, can go all over the board.  If ONE of the sizes is on sale, get out your calculator because the helpful smiles are trying to screw you.  Actually, you might also need some scratch paper, because the price is probably further shrouded in a "three for $x" scheme.  Check the price of the 16 ouncer and then do the math.  Chances are, one of those sizes is being sold at a disadvantageous price, and it very well could be the one on sale.  I have literally purchased two 8 oz blocks for less than the price of the 16 oz block.  Don't even get me started on the pre-shredded cheeses.

This sort of thing follows over into the produce section.  Compare the price of a head of romaine to the cost of a package of three hearts of romaine.  You might have to venture over to the scale to determine which is the better deal.  Oddly enough, it very well could be the hearts in the bag, which runs totally contrary to the general rule that more handling (washing, stripping off outer leaves, packaged) equals more expensive.  But what REALLY bends my tines in the produce section is when green beans or Brussels sprouts are pre-packaged in gallon zip-lock bags.  They are priced per pound, but most shoppers just pick up the bag, because they think they have to.  I don't.  If I want a couple handfuls, I open one of those suckers up and select the ones I want (in other words, the nice ones and not all the stems) and place them in another bag.  Once.  Just once, I saw un-pre-packaged green beans at my go-to Hy Vee.  They looked like total crap, so I skipped them in favor of the bag trick.

And.  Yes, annnnnd, as if these little math problems weren't bad enough, now Hy Vee has introduced the Fuel Saver card which interjects per gallon of gasoline discount for the purchase of certain grocery items.  Beware, this takes obfuscation of pricing schemes to a whole new level.

Look, I don't mean to be a total Nellie Negative here.  There are some decent prices on some things once in a while.  My point is that it's nearly impossible to figure out.  Thanks to Fuel Saver, figuring out the best deal requires the use of calculus.  If you see someone with a slide rule and a Hewlett-Packard HP 15C scientific calculator at the meat counter pricing out steaks, that's me.

Unfortunately, the smug executives in West Des Moines have no incentive to strip away the gimmicks and return to quality and value.  Hy Vee has effectively stripped away most, if not all, barriers to its business model here in Sioux Falls and bought out  most of the competition.  Can Fareway make a dent?  Doubtful with that crappy location on 41st Street and being closed on Sunday.

Thank God, it's farmer's market season again.  At least I can buy fresh foods from people who have some pride in their products who don't rely on complicated pricing gimmicks.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Firehouse Subs. Try them. Avoid spontaneous combustion.

Firehouse Subs has been open for a few months now.  For those of you who haven't heard yet, it is located on 41st Street, on the north side of the street, adjacent to the river.  This is the former location of  Senor Wiener.  That particular retail location is one of the worst places to get in and out of, second only to perhaps Erberts & Gerberts and Taco Bell on Louise, both of which I refuse to visit.

Anyway, location notwithstanding, I can't avoid the siren call of a good sandwich and rumor has it, Firehouse makes a good sub.  I am pleased to report excellent findings.

These are damned fine sammiches.  Most, maybe all, are served hot and you will find things like ham, turkey, pastrami, brisket, provolone cheese, onions, and meatballs offered in various combinations.  Check out the menu.  The bread is fresh and fairly soft and the sandwiches are warm and gooey.  Just the right amount of ingredients, so you shouldn't need a fork or a stack of napkins.  Good experience.

For me, the meatball sandwich is the star.  Nice tasty meatballs in a marinara sauce.  Served with melted cheese on a fresh roll, that's good eating.  It's a simple sandwich, but one that is hard to find well made here in River City.  If someone has suggestions, feel free to post them.

The only gripes I have with the place is the physical layout of the shop itself.  You have to walk in the front door and past all the small tables that will be on your right and go to the rear of the space to place an order.  A large, chest high counter is on the right where folks are making the sandwiches.  For those of you who are used to the Subway method of making sandwiches, Firehouse doesn't work that way.  Go to the place where it says "Place Order Here" (turns out that is a hint) and then go find a table.  They will call your name and bring you your sandwich.  Turns out the "Pick Up Here" sign is a bit of a trick.  That's for take out.  The other thing that is a bit of a pain is the Coke Freestyle machine.  Yeah, I guess it's cool and all if the regular combinations of sucrose and chemicals doesn't turn your crank anymore, but when the place is busy, it's a bottleneck.

Finally, a word of warning.  At the end of the counter where the sandwiches are made is a small gallery of hot sauces that patrons can use on their food.  Actually, Firehouse has its own Datil Pepper Sauce that is pretty good, especially on a meatball sandwich.  The sauces have labels on their lids with numbers like 5, 6, and 9, and even 9+.  Yes, those are indications of relative heat.  On a recent trip there, I was starving, so I had a meatball sandwich.  The big one.  And, turns out there is a sweet or spicy option.  So, I went for spicy.  Who wouldn't?  Deciding a bit more heat would be nice, I perused the sauce line up and selected a 9+, 357 Mad Dog Hot Sauce.  How hot can that be, right?  It's practically within reach of children.  Well, click on the link and read the comments.  I can personally vouch for their accuracy.  Fortunately, I didn't put this directly on the sandwich.  After I came to, I resumed eating my sandwich sans Mad Dog sauce.  Still seemed spicy, so I had the SSS try it.  SSS claims this resulted in searing purple lips that stung for hours due to spice that exceed B-Dubs Blazing.  I swear none of the Mad Dog was on the sandwich.

The next 12 hours were interesting.

I am going back.  I am not having Mad Dog Sauce on my sandwich.  Well, we'll see.  I am a slow learner about some things.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Dreams Do Come True: Bahn Mi in Sioux Falls

A while back, I was commenting on a Asian pork sandwich that was featured as a special at Grille 26.  That sandwich was good, although I think the excitement over having something fairly good at Grille 26 might have made the review a tad overly enthusiastic.  Here's the post.  Judge for yourself.  That's a long way of saying the next week when I went back and had the sandwich, it wasn't nearly as good.  Ultimately, the whole experience made me want a Bahn Mi.

Well, good news!  An authentic, honest to forking goodness Bahn Mi sandwich has been located, and it was worth the wait and anticipation.  Where?  Lam's.

And it is fantastic.  There are five different offerings on the menu, but I must suggest their most popular version, the Special Combo, which is described as containing folds of cold cuts, pork rolls and head cheese.  Don't let that head cheese reference freak you out, it's delicious.  All the meats are prepared in house.  The bread is fresh and slightly crispy, and the pickled carrot and vegetables make that sandwich come alive.  A bright, light salty-sour-sweet-spicy sauce and some fresh cilantro ties it all together.  The best part?  It's all of $4.50.  This may be one of the very best food bargains available in town.

I think Lam's may be cranking out some of the finest Vietnamese fare in Sioux Falls.  It's not real long on atmosphere and the location is perhaps a little out of the way, but it's well worth the trip.  And, from what I hear, people are finding the place.  Get over there and try it out.

Matter of fact, I am having one of those sammies for lunch today.

Friday, March 22, 2013

BREAKING NEWS: Intel on Champps Location

I have it on extremely good authority that a new chain joint is coming to the location occupied by Champps.  Watch for a Beef O'Brady's to appear in the coming days.

PepperJax Grill. America's Best Philly? Hmmmm.

In an effort to hit more food places in Sioux Falls, my lunch-mate, the SSS, and I decided to hit PepperJax Grill recently.  According to PepperJax own advertising, this is America's Best Philly.  A bold claim, indeed.  Well, since it was that or the same-old-same-old, we tried it.

Before I get to how I feel about this place, let's have a little sidebar.  Sandwiches that can be considered signature cuisine in certain places in our fair country are particular creatures.  To recreate them is a very difficult task, because so many of them are truly reliant on local ingredients that define their very essence.

There are three sandwiches that immediately come to my mind.

One.  The Po Boy.  This is pure New Orleans.  Essentailly, it is a sandwich built on a loaf of French Bread, but not just any baguette, but a Leidenheimer loaf of bread.  This is not your average roll.  Thin crackly skin, tasty inside.  Ohhhh, but the inside of a Po Boy is loaded with fried shrimp and/or oysters, or roast beef.  And then it is dressed with mayonnaise, tomato slices and lettuce.  Or, if you are more daring, go for a spider sandwich containing a fried soft shelled crab.  Delightful.

Two.  The Italian Beef.  This is a must in Chicago.  Like Pho, a good Beef can cure a simple hangover.  Take a hearty Italian roll, add slices of beef that have been slow roasted in herbs and wine for hours and hours.  Then, you have to top it.  I recommend "sweet" and "hot."  That is, roasted green bell peppers and spoonfuls of spicy, vinegary hot giardinera, and then the whole shebang should be baptized in beef juices and served, preferably with cheese fries.

Three.  The Philly Cheesesteak.  Steak, generally ribeye, sliced very thin and cooked on a flattop grill.  Give some finely diced onions a similar treatment and serve the whole shebang on a big soft loaf of bread with Cheez Whiz slathered on it.  As George Takei might say, Ohhhhhhhhhh, myyyyyyyyy!

With those three references in mind, let me state that it is an extremely risky proposition to try to recreate a staple sandwich like one of the above, let alone to claim that in a place like Sioux Falls or Omaha, that you are the best in the US of A.

But that is what PepperJax, founded in Omaha is claiming.  And, they fail.  Let's recount.  This is a place from Omaha that makes "phillies."  The founder patented a way to slice sirloin for easy grilling.  They serve that grilled with "swiss american" cheese.  To that, you can add onions, green peppers, mushrooms, jalapenos, and then some sauces.  You can also ask to have your meat grilled with jalapeno juices.  The "fireball."

Theoretically, this can't be that bad.  And, I suppose it's not that bad.  My issue was that it's really not that great, either.  The steak is seasoned with some spice and herb combo that says Middle America about as loudly as Ranch Dressing.  The meat is sirloin.  If I am recalling my philly protocol correctly, the authentic article is rib eye.  Also, it really needs the Whiz.  A superior Philly counts on simple ingredients that combine into something much bigger than the sum of their parts.

A fairly nice try, but just not close enough to the mark for me.  Like I was pointing out above, if you are going to go for one of the great regional sandwiches, you really need to nail it and PepperJax, sadly, does not.  I chalk that up to an attempt to complicate that which need not be complicated.

Now, if you get to Rapid City, find Philly Ted's.  Outstanding.