Fevre Steak and Hoagie Shop,
Seattle, WA, tasted on February 28, 2004 — The steak sub (for anyone
confused by "subs" please substitute heros, hoagies, submarine
sandwiches, or cheesesteaks) is one of my favorite all time foods.
In high school my friend
Roee and I used to plot the apartment we would share after we
moved out of our homes. The centerpiece would be a sub-making
station complete with frying surface for the steak, mushroom, and
onions (not to mention melting the cheese), as well as bins of
vegetables and other toppings. We would eat subs three times a day.
(Yes, I know this is weird, but be sensitive as I'm baring my soul
and my adolescent silliness.) I still love these beautiful
creations, but alas I have to travel back to Boston to get the
perfect combination of toasted roll, chunky pieces of steak, cheese,
And yes, I do know that Philadelphia prides itself on
its own cheese, steak, and bread combination. I'm still on the fence
however about whether they are any good. I have traveled to Philadelphia
and partaken of the famous cheesesteaks (with). But we didn't eat at a
top cheesesteak spot so it hardly seems fair. But I've eaten other
cheesesteaks since that claim to be authentic and they all shared
certain qualities that I wasn't sure about (more on this later). Anyway,
I do crave a good steak sub, and right near where I live is the
Philadelphia Fevre Steak and Hoagie Shop. I would have preferred it
was the Boston Steak, Cheese, Mushroom, Onion, Sub Shop but beggars
can't be choosers.
Look, writing about food is not something that can be
done objectively. And I freely admit that the memories associated with
the perfect combination of toasted roll, cheese, and steak overwhelm me
with warmth and positivity. It's simply hard to compete with that. And
any similar combination of ingredients is inevitably going to be held to
that standard. I'll write more about objectivity at a later date, but I
wanted to be up front about my biases.
Back to Philadelphia Fevre. The atmosphere there is
great. Homey. Comfortable. Self-effacing. Focused on cheesesteaks. And
with free wireless access. Cool. Definitely a place you'd want to hang
out. The cheesesteaks are filled to the brim with cheese and steak. They
do a good job. And here's where I can't tell whether my hesitation is
about the quality of the dish or my bias. I'll let you be the judge.
First things first. The roll was not toasted. I think if you're going to
put a huge bomb of juicy steak and cheese in a bun, it's critical to
toast the bun. You need it to maintain some structure as you eat your
way through it. I asked for toasting, but they said they couldn't toast,
and could only grill and the roll would get a bit charred. I talked to
the owner a little later and he said in fact he could have grilled it
properly for me. Ok. No biggie.
Now to the other two main ingredients. First the steak.
I'll admit it, the steak in cheesesteaks that I've had has a shredded
texture. This may sound silly, but it can almost feel gritty to me. I
also think they stuff too much of this shredded steak into the roll
making the ingredient balance a little bit off of what I consider
perfection. The second issue is the cheese. The appropriate topping is
whiz as in Cheese-Whiz. I have no problem with processed foods. They
have a uniformity that I often find comforting. But I just don't think
it does justice to the steak. It just ends up being gloppy. I prefer
provolone. (Authentic Philly Cheesesteak fans feel free to flame away
starting... now.) Philadelphia Fevre did accommodate me on this front.
Did the cheesesteaks at Philadelphia Fevre meet my deep
emotional need for the steak and cheese subs I grew up with? No. Were
they decent in their own way? Defnitely. I think they might be even
better next time if I get some toasting/grilling of the roll. And time