I’ve talked before about the difference between something like a cafe, where sandwiches are on offer, and a sandwich shop. As you might imagine, I prefer the establishments were sandwiches are the sole focus, but I also hold them to a higher standard. When I came upon one literally named Sandwich Shop, I worried that I might be setting myself up for disappointment. That turned out not to be the case, though, as I found instead the best cheesesteak I’ve ever had.
Thinly shaved rib-eye is the cut of choice, naturally, and it has plenty of the sweet-salty-savory flavor from the bulgogi marinade. The provolone played smoothy in the background, and the jalapeños were just the right amount of heat. The cheesesteak is a simple number, and there’s no great revolution here. Just a few tasty things put together in a classic form, with a very very tasty end result.
Now, I have been known to get bent out of shape over the reinvention of archetypes, and most recently I have objected most strenuously to non-traditional bánh mìs. But I didn’t mind the updated vision on display at the Sandwich Shop, and I’m not sure I can state with certainty why that is. It is entirely possible that I am simply a hypocrite, that my attachment to the bánh mì takes over my head and, having no such attachment to the city of Philadelphia or its chosen emblem, I just don’t care. But there is another reading that is more charitable towards myself, and that’s simply that this was a very good sandwich. Of the two bánh mìs linked above, one fails at being a bánh mì and the other fails at being delicious. Those are fair grounds to cast them aside, in my estimation, and by that standard the sandwich pictured above is more than welcome. I can see no way in which it betrays the fundamental cheesesteak aesthetic, and as such I found it delightful. If some fan of Philadelphia wishes to point out some flaw that I have missed, I encourage them to do so.