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Restaurant Quick Hits: Outback Steakhouse Refuses to Grill Medium Rare Steaks?

Outback Steakhouse Restaurant Quick Hits: Outback Steakhouse Refuses to Grill Medium Rare Steaks?Outback Fakehouse: Is this Really Even a Steakhouse?

By Matt Goldstein

It’s easy to pick on chain restaurants of course, but being a steakhouse and refusing to make medium rare steaks is completely insane.  If you want a steak at Outback, the best you can do is a “warm red center” which is code for a medium steak.  When they told me “warm red center” I should have immediately asked for the coconut shrimp but instead, wanting a steak so badly, I took it on the chin and just got the steak.  Yup, it was a medium steak.  In our humble opinion, the only way to eat a steak is medium rare as a well done steak is like chewing on chalk, flavorless desert dry hard chalk.  Well done steaks are horrible and if you’re a fan, we encourage you to rethink your life, there have been some major mistakes made somewhere.  Obviously, Outback Steakhouse is trying not to get sued for getting someone sick by serving a steak too rare and trying to avoid becoming a news story for the same thing.

This calculation is made strictly for the money, not for the food.  If 50 people in a given city received and overcooked steak and decided not to go back, Outback feels no effect whatsoever, but if one person gets sick at a specific location and the story is publicized, Outback Steakhouse faces the loss of thousands and thousands of customers not to mention a million dollar law suit.  It’s a chain, it’s about the money.  However, if you are a steakhouse, that is part of the game.  If a restaurant wants to serves steaks, they must serve the steaks properly.  It’s deceptive to lure customers in with the promise of giving them what they want and then simply refusing. Outback Steakhouse should either advertise that they don’t allow medium rare steaks or start calling themselves Outback Fakehouse because they don’t know shit about cooking or grilling steaks.

#OutbackFakehouse

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Philly Bars to Avoid: Mt. Airy’s McMenamin’s Tavern

philadelphia skyline Philly Bars to Avoid: Mt. Airy’s McMenamin’s TavernAn O.G. Craft Beer Bar: How the Mighty Have Fallen

By Matt Goldstein & Amy K. Haight

We’d like to apologize to McMenamin’s for dining at their establishment.  For some reason they seemed to be annoyed that we stopped by and decided to give them our hard earned money for a week night dinner.  We’re sorry, that’s our fault.  Don’t worry though because we won’t be stopping by again.  To be fair, this used to be one of our favorite places but if we’re going out in Mt Airy, you’ll see us down the block at the Wine Thief.  Maybe our readers should do the same since it doesn’t seem like McMenamin’s even likes their customers.  The host was rude, annoyed and gave us looks that seemed as he didn’t want us to be there.  The bartenders, although busy, forgot multiple drink orders and also seemed annoyed that we were there.  That’s OK though, because we saved money when they forgot our orders and were saved from enduring more average food and drink.

Any who, on to the food and beer:  The cheeseburger at McMenamin’s was pedestrian to say the least.  To be fare, we’ve been perusing the entire city of Philadelphia looking for the best burgers so the competition is steep.  It’s safe to say that the burger at McMenamin’s does not stack up.  When we ordered a medium rare burger, it came out well done.  Not the most horrible mistake but still, the burger was dry, flavorless and just plain below average.  Avoid the burger.

The cheese plate was also just pedestrian.  Not well matched and not really appealing to the eye, the cheese plate looked and tasted awkward and cheap.  It wasn’t bad, but it just wasn’t good.  The fries are nothing to write home about either, just about below average.  To be fair, we’ve had the wings at McMenamin’s before and their pretty good, but everything else falls short, including their beers on tap.

McMenamin’s is one of the original craft beer bars in Philly, doing craft beers for years and years before the recent wave of fanaticism.  Now, this is a better tap list than most bars, but for a craft beer bar it’s falling behind the times.  Lacking variety and expertise, the PJ Whelihan’s chain seems to be more educated in craft beer selection.  The bottle list is a safe go to, but not extensive.  We did enjoy the Samuel Smith India Ale, a spicy and malty pale ale perfect for spicy Indian dishes.

Oh right, don’t order a cocktail either because apparently that’s annoying too.  If a restaurant does not want to make a drink or is not good at making certain foods, they should take it off the menu.  What else is there to say?  McMenamin’s has a culture of bad service and a staff that doesn’t seem to care.  It should be replaced immediately.

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Great Vegan Cocktails at the Khyber Pass Pub

Vegan Cocktails Khyber Pass Pub 300x136 Great Vegan Cocktails at the Khyber Pass Pub Philly’s #1 Bar: Tuesday, December 13, 2011, 6:00pm to 2:00am

On Tuesday, December 13th, from 6:00pm to 2:00am, Khyber Pass Pub will host Vegan Cocktails Philly. Vegans, vegetarians, and the veg-curious are invited to meet up, mix, and mingle, over a delicious selection of vegan drinks and eats.  A Philadelphia tradition, the latest installment of Vegan Cocktails Philly will highlight vegan specialty cocktails for the event, including a salute to vegan singer-songwriter Fiona Apple.

Fiona Apple Cider: Organic Apple Cider with choice of Buffalo Trace Bourbon or

Kraken Spiced Rum, served hot or cold

Teen Wolf: Rum Punch featuring Cruzan Dark Rum, Cruzan Spiced Rum,

Velvet Falernum, and Blood Orange

Bye Bye Blackbird: Sparkling Wine with Blackberry and splash of Creme de Violette

Monkey Business: Franziskaner Hefeweizen with Banana

In addition to Khyber Pass Pub’s usual repertoire of vegan fare, we will also be offering

these additional vegetarian and vegan specials for the event:

Sweet Potato Bisque **

Beer Cheese Soup *

Winter Vegetable Gumbo **

Beer Boiled Peanuts **

Bacon Salt Popcorn **

Natchitoches Meat Pies **

Fried Green Tomato and Tempeh Bacon BLT **

Smoked Portabello Po-Boy **

Eggplant and Okra Étouffée **

* vegetarian         ** vegan

Join us for a veg-tastic night of Vegan Cocktails Philly at Khyber Pass Pub!

Khyber Pass Pub is a historic Old City tavern that features a beautiful bar handcrafted in 1876. One of Philadelphia’s oldest bars, a ‘Philadelphia Magazine’ Best of Philly 2011 winner, and Foobooz.com’s Number One Bar of 2011, the menu features an extensive selection of craft beers, authentic New Orleans specialties, hickory-smoked barbecue, and tasty vegan and vegetarian options.

 

Open Daily 11:00am to 2:00am      Kitchen Open till 1:00am

New Orleans Brunch served Saturdays and Sundays 11:00am to 4:00pm

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Top 50 Best Bars in Philly: Khyber Pass Pub Named #1

foobooz logo banner Top 50 Best Bars in Philly: Khyber Pass Pub Named #1Best Bars List By Foobooz

Foobooz came out with their 50 best bars in Philly list and our local favorite, Jeremy Thomson’s Khyber Pass Pub craft beer bar came in #1.  With their signature authentic New Orleans style Po’ Boys and the best craft beer draft list in town, the Khyber Pass Pub’s atmosphere, history, food and drink make it an easy choice for the best spot in Philly.  Check out the rest of the top 50 list from Foobooz as there are some bars we love: Tria, Kraftwork, Village Whiskey, Sidecar, Bob & Barbera’s, Ranstead Room, Grace Tavern, Ressurection Ale House, McGlichey’s.  Oh yeah, and the Hulmeville Inn?  For real?  It brings a tear to my eye that my local Bensalem stomping grounds, where this amateur drinker came to age as pro, the Hulmeville Inn, is now getting serious respect for being craft beer specialists.  Of course, back in the day when I lived in Bensalem, they used to have Millier Lite specials, not Russian River on tap.  You have no idea how many skeezers I took home because of those Miller Lite specials.  Not to mention, my brother is still banned from the Hulmeville for reasons that we cannot discuss.  Any who, check out the top 50 bars in Philly and congrats to the Khyber Pass Pub for being the best bar in Philly.  The kid Jeremy Thomson is on fire.   

#1 Khyber Pass Pub
#2 South Philadelphia Taproom
#3 Standard Tap
#4 Franklin Mortgage & Investment Co.
#5 Memphis Taproom
#6 Pub on Passyunk East
#7 Good Dog Bar
#8 Varga Bar
#9 Farmers Cabinet
#10 Pub & Kitchen
#11 Oscar’s
#12 Johnny Brenda’s
#13 Southwark
#14 Monk’s Cafe
#15 Tria Cafe
#16 Kraftwork
#17 Village Whiskey
#18 Jose Pistola’s
#19 Royal Tavern
#20 Sidecar Bar & Grille
#21 Teresa’s Next Door
#22 Brauhaus Schmitz
#23 Bob & Barbara’s
#24 Percy Street Barbecue
#25 Prohibition Taproom
#26 Grace Tavern
#27 Stogie Joe’s
#28 Oyster House
#29 Sampan
#30 Devil’s Den
#31 Grey Lodge
#32 Nodding Head
#33 Locust Rendezvous
#34 Ranstead Room
#35 Fergie’s
#36 Hulmeville Inn
#37 Resurrection Ale House
#38 Earth Bread + Brewery
#39 Cantina Los Caballitos
#40 Fiume
#41 Frankford Hall
#42 Continental Midtown
#43 The Corner
#44 McGlinchey’s
#45 Chick’s Cafe
#46 Institute
#47 Kennett
#48 TJ’s Restaurant & Drinkery
#49 12 Steps Down
#50 Silk City Diner

Source: Foobooz

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The Honey Pig Korean BBQ: The Most Authentic Korean Food in America

honey pig gooldaegee korean bbq The Honey Pig Korean BBQ: The Most Authentic Korean Food in AmericaMinutes Outside of Washington D.C., Virginia Locks it Down with the Gooldaegee Honey Pig

By Joon Lee, Amy K. Haight & Matt Goldstein

Great Korean BBQ outside of Korea is difficult to find but the Honey Pig in Annandale Virginia is the most authentic Korean BBQ you can find on this side of the Pacific Ocean.   The Honey Pig, or Gooldaegee, design the Korean BBQ style food to compliment the Soju, a Korean spirit much like vodka but sweeter with about half the alcohol.  With a casual laid back atmosphere and the main grill in the front of the restaurant, the walls are pasted with Korean posters, a style straight out of Seoul.      

Each table has its own grill with the waitress / cook laying the meat down right in front of you.  The warmth of the personal table grill is comforting and the aroma from the sizzling meat extremely enticing.  To start, our native Korean host ordered Charmisoul Jinro Soju with Cass Korean lager.  The Cass lager is much like the classic American lager, Budweiser, simple, crisp, light and refreshing.  This type of lager is perfect for mixing with Soju, as many Koreans drop 1 shot of Soju in each glass of beer.  However for this meal, we drank the beer and soju straight.     

For starters we had the egg soup, bean paste tofu soup, spinach and kim chi, all studs and all spiced appropriately to compliment the soju.  For the main course Joon ordered the pork belly.  With two different style cuts, the waitress first grilled up thin round cuts, which looked like a cross between bacon, prosciutto and cappicola.  Very red in color, the thin slices of pork belly grilled to a beautiful grey.  The thin slices are fatty on one half and meaty on the other.  The flavor is a cross between bacon and roast pork.  It’s absolutely outrageous.  The second style cuts of meat were thick and long, basically like the biggest and thickest pieces of bacon we’d ever seen.  This cut is a three layer style with one part skin, one part fat and one part pork.  The meat on this cut is thick juicy and flavorful. 

One of the great parts about having the grill on the table and serving your self is that you can let the meat cook as long as you want.  So towards the end of the meal, the last few pieces were perfectly crispy.  All in all, this is one of the best meals we ever had and a must try for any fan of Korean food, let alone Korean BBQ.  Not to mention, the price is just right, almost every entrée on the menu is $12.99.  This is one of the best meals you’ll ever have less expensive than almost any restaurant.  Bottles of Soju are $10 and double bottles of Cass are $6.  We would eat here again and again and again, just like Joon Lee has been doing since it opened.         

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Restaurant Quick Hits: Mt Airy’s The Wine Thief Bistro

wine thief bistro mt airy philadelphia Restaurant Quick Hits: Mt Airy’s The Wine Thief Bistro$3 Glasses of Wine for Happy Hour

By Matt Goldstein & Amy K. Haight

The strip on Germantown Ave in Mt Airy Philadelphia is starting to pop.  With McMenamin’s Tavern, the Earth Bread and Brewery, Umbriah, and the Wine Thief, there is no need to look further for a downtown style food and drink at an excellent price.  The Wine Thief’s happy hour is absolutely ridiculous.  $3 glasses of wine before 6 pm.  Really?  $3?  When was the last time you had a glass of wine for $3?  We don’t even understand how they could possible make money at that rate.  As well, the wines they serve for happy hour are usually right off of their own wine list, which is always reasonable and selected well.

The wines featured for the happy hour we attended recently were the Bodegas Callia Malbec from Argentina and the Table Leaf Chardonnay.  The Malbec was crisp, full flavored and slightly dry.  For $3 per glass it’s a steal.  You might be able to find this bottle for about $10 in the store, so if you’re looking for a malbec to not break the bank, give it a try.  The Chardonnay was solid, perhaps not as crisp as we were looking for, but still very drinkable.  And again, at $3 per glass, it’s still a great deal.

We started with the Pita Nachos with ezpazote, black beans, & avocado salsa.  Excellent!  It’s a must try.  Then we had the Mac N’ Cheese appetizer (a special that was not on the menu that night, but we spied it on someone else’s plate and it just looked so good we had to order it.)  Normally we wouldn’t order a 2nd appetizer in place of a meal, but when I saw the dish, it really wasn’t a choice.  Then we had the homemade veggie burger.  The burger patty was literally put together by hand in the Wine Thief kitchen.  It was interesting, unique and tasty, and it was served with hand-cut fries that were delicious.

And if the awesome menu and outrageous wine bargains weren’t enough, the nightly viewing of TJ Hooker at the Wine Thief will keep us coming back.  It may be the best part of the night.  Forget sports; the clothes and haircuts alone on this classic 80s show can keep you in a conversation for the entire dinner, not to mention the cameos by some old school actors.

On side note, we also read some great reviews about the fried chicken and meatloaf, which we are definitely trying when we go back.  All in all, we had two appetizers, a veggie burger, and four glasses of wine for a total of $35.  The Wine Thief has excellent food and drink for an excellent price and we’re already planning a return trip.  Also, when it’s not happy hour, the prices at the Wine Thief are still very reasonable.  There were about 4-5 glasses of wine for about $7.  It’s worth a try at anytime.

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The Auburn Alehouse & Brewery

auburn alehouse and brewery The Auburn Alehouse & BreweryCalifornia Craft Beer Specialists

By Brandon Gould

It was not that I was surprised that there was a brewery in such a small town,  it was that the beer being made at Auburn Alehouse was as good if not better than other brew pubs in more brew prolific towns.  Auburn California is usually known, by the people who don’t live there, as the stop on the way to Tahoe from Sacramento.  It’s a small quaint town with a country feel.  It wasn’t the place I was expecting to find an amazing brewery on my short weekend trip.

The Northern California brewery and restaurant has a broad and impressive range of beers on tap. Including but not limited to, an Oatmeal Stout, a sessionable Brown, Pilsner, Lager, Oktoberfest and enough hop centric beers that would put a smile on any hop heads face.

The Auburn Alehouse has only been open a handful of years and has taken home more than a few awards. Which includes a Bronze medal for their Gold Country Pilsner at the Great American Beer Festival in 2010. Their Fools Gold is a “Pale Ale with a Punch” , a hoppy pale ale at 7.8% ABV 50 BU’s, it is not a typical Pale Ale which I thought was brilliant and insightful. It was also served on Nitro while I was in town which also is not typical of a small town shop.  Gold Digger is a clean crisp IPA at 6.7% ABV 70 BU’s it is an amazing beer brewed with Magnum, Simcoe and Chinook hop varieties, with a late addition of Dry hops.  The fact that this small town brewery even had an Imperial IPA was the first thing I noticed when I walked in. The PU-240, named after the Isotope essential for nuclear grade weapons is their “Weapons Grade Ale”. At 8.0% ABV 100BU’s, this hop bomb Imperial IPA has just enough Alcohol to complement the huge hop flavor. Brewed with Summit and Galena hops then double Dry-hopped with Simcoe, Columbus and Nugget hop varieties.  I highlite the hoppy beers cause those are my favorite styles but every beer I tasted, and I tasted them all, was top notch and deserving of a review.

The Auburn Alehouse ties the brewery and restaurant together seamlessly with its shinny 10-barrel brewing system peering over the restaurant and bar through its tall glass walls like Optimus Prime for beer geeks ready to come alive when a patrons beer is low.  On the wall above the bar are a few dozen growlers from other breweries around the country that have been collected by employees and loyal patrons who want to share their beer explorations with the brewery and town.  Also with an outside patio, great food and occasional live music this beautiful rustic brick and mortar walled brewery is a place I wish was closer to home.

With the growth of the craft beer industry it is becoming more common for small breweries to produce not just beer with more flavor than the macro-brew aluminum can, but actually produce great beer. This quality over quantity production is a reflection of the craft beer movement right now and brewers knowing that with the right ingredients, care and knowledge they can make just as good of beers as anyone else, anywhere else.  This competition forces innovation and is great for craft beers palate.

If you find yourself in the Auburn California area or on your way to Tahoe on I-80 make sure you stop by the Auburn Alehouse for lunch and stock up on some 22′s or a growler for the road. If you bring them a growler from your town maybe they’ll trade ya.

Support your local brewery and search out someone else’s local brewery and give it a try.

Cheers

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HopScotch II returns to Khyber Pass Pub


khyber pass pub logo 1 300x68 HopScotch II returns to Khyber Pass Pub
Saturday, August, 20, 2011, from 12:00 p.m. to 2:00 a.m.

Hop Heads and Malt Maniacs rejoice! An exclusive one-night event, Philadelphia’s original “HopScotch” returns to Khyber Pass Pub to showcase rare hoppy India Pale Ales, American Pale Ales, and Double India Pale Ales alongside highly sought-after Scotch Ales and Wee Heavies. Whether for Hops or for Scotch, guests will be able to determine their preference in a standoff between Malty Scotch Ales and Hoppy IPAs!

The Scotches

Oskar Blues Old Chub

Brouwkot Vlaskapelle

Belhaven Wee Heavy

Bear Republic Heritage

Brasserie D’achouffe McChouffe

Founders Dirty Bastard

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The Hoppy Ales

Founders Devil Dancer

Russian River Blind Pig

Avery Maharaja

Flying Dog Centennial Single Hop Imperial IPA

Cask Bear Republic Racer 5

Brasserie Dieu Du Ciel Corne Du Diable

Ballast Point Even Keel

Russian River Pliny the Elder

Cask Blue Point No Apologies Imperial IPA

 

Khyber Pass Pub is a historic Old City bar handcrafted in 1876, and recently named by ‘Philadelphia Magazine’ as Best of Philly 2011 Revival. The menu features an extensive selection of craft beers, authentic Louisiana specialties, Southern barbecue, and tasty vegan and vegetarian options. Open 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. daily. Happy Hour runs weekdays from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.!

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The Top 5 Tomato Pies in Philly: Baker St vs. Corropolese

baker st bread company store front pic 300x200 The Top 5 Tomato Pies in Philly: Baker St vs. Corropolese  Philadelphia: Maybe the Best Tomato Pie City in the Country

By Matt Goldstein

For those not familiar with the tomato pie, it’s a classic Philadelphia delicacy and usually served square, cold and with no cheese.  When done correctly, it’s one of the best pizzas you can have.  With Baker St., Corropolese and Sarcone’s, one would be hard pressed to find a better city for tomato pie.  Check out our Top 5 Tomato Pies in Philly and let us know how it stacks up to the best. 

baker st bread company spinach ricotta pizza 300x225 The Top 5 Tomato Pies in Philly: Baker St vs. Corropolese  1. Baker St. Bread Company

The Baker St. tomato sauce is made with oregano, shredded parmesan, fresh roasted garlic, a little sugar to kill the bitterness & acidity, with a light Focaccia dough crust, airy but crisp on the edges.  Made with all natural ingredients, the sauce is not too much but just enough; it’s perfectly balanced.  Many people in the Philly area rave about Corropolese Bakery being the best, but in all honesty it’s not even close.  Baker St. crushes!  Baker St also has an amazing spinach & ricotta pie which is just as good as the tomato pie.  Baker St. Bread Company is located on Germantown Ave. in Chestnut Hill Philadelphia.           

tomato pie The Top 5 Tomato Pies in Philly: Baker St vs. Corropolese  2.  Sarcone’s Deli

Sarcone’s is a san marzano tomato pie with chunks of plum tomato marinated in garlic, olive oil and other spices.  On top of a thick crusted Sicilian crust is hands down one of the best we’ve ever had.  It’s a close 2nd to Baker St..  Not only does Sarcone’s have one of the best tomato pies in the city but Sarcone’s has the best Italian hoagies.  Yup, I said it; the best Italian hoagies in the city no question about it.  They don’t use slices of cheese; they use big fat chunks of cheese.  It’s absolutely ridiculous!  Sarcone’s is also where many sanwhich shops by their bread because it’s widely regarded to have the best rolls in the city.  Sarcone’s is located at 758 S 9th St in Philadelphia.      

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a taste of italy joe bombartito 300x225 The Top 5 Tomato Pies in Philly: Baker St vs. Corropolese  3.  A Taste of Italy

Not only does a Taste of Italy have excellent tomato pie but their hoagies and sandwiches also rival any spot in the Philadelphia area, even Sarcone’s.  The whole menu at A Taste of Italy is filled authentic gourmet Italian cuisine and the market is packed with gourmet Italian imported oils and pastas.  We recommend A Taste of Italy for their pizzas, sandwiches, platters, catering and just about everything.  You might want to pre-order the tomato pies with as much notice as possible.  A Taste of Italy is located at 901 Bethlehem Pike in Springhouse PA.     

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4.  Corropolese Deli

With the biggest and best reputation for tomato pie in the Philadelphia area, the people must know what they’re talking about.  The Corropolese Deli serves up a sheet of tomato pie with 30 slices that can feed a whole party for $13.  It’s a great sweet pie!  Corropolese also has excellent pepperoni bread, spinach bread and roast beef.  Located at 2014 Old Arch Rd in Norristown, PA.  

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5.  Marchiano’s Bakery LLC

Voted the best of Philly in 2006 and for good reason, the Marchiano’s Bakery makes an outstanding tomato pie.  Marchiano’s also makes great stuffed bread such as the pepper & egg bread, pepperoni bread and meatball bread.  Marchiano’s is located at 4653 Umbria Street in Manayunk Philadelphia. 

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Tony Luke’s: Ruining a Classic Philadelphia Name

TonyLukesLogo 300x155 Tony Luke’s: Ruining a Classic Philadelphia NameTony Luke’s New Locations Falling Way Short of the Philadelphia Cheesesteak Standard. 

By Matt Goldstein & Joon Lee

The infamous Philadelphia cheesesteak and pulled pork sandwich spot in South Philly has been branching out to other locations.  Unfortunately these new locations are falling way short of what can be considered the gold standard of Philadelphian sandwiches.  Tony Luke’s has one of the best Philly cheesesteaks period, not to mention the pulled pork with broccoli rabe or the chicken cutlet.  You can’t go wrong with getting a sandwich at the original Oregon Avenue location.  However, we tried the new Tony Luke’s in Atlantic City at the Borgata.  Ugh. 

tony luke with big cheesesteak 172x300 Tony Luke’s: Ruining a Classic Philadelphia NameFirst, the cheesesteak was overpriced at $9.75 and then actually undersized.  Of course, everything costs more in a casino but it was really only 2/3’s of a cheesesteak for more money.   This is a big downgrade from the original.  Also, there was barely any cheese on the sandwich.  Perhaps they are trying to save money or perhaps there was just bad service that day.  Either way,  this would never happen on Oregon Avenue.   The cheese and steak didn’t taste that bad, it was actually solid, but the roll was severely sub-par.  We can’t stress this enough.  There is no way they serve these rolls at the original Tony Luke’s locations.  Now, perhaps they can’t get the same exact roll they use in Philadelphia, but they can certainly get something comparable, or at least not completely horrible.  There are also tons of deli’s and sandwich shops that get their rolls delivered from far and wide on a daily basis as to not degrade their quality.  We feel that Tony Luke’s is one of these sandwich shops that should be holding itself to this standard.  Afterall, Tony Luke’s is a legendary name in Philadelphia.  Any degration in the quality of Tony Luke’s hurts more than just the Tony Luke name.  Other than the original location, we will never be eating at any other Tony Luke locations ever again.  Believe it.         

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