#73: Charley’s Grilled Subs

Just a couple things first off:

  1. Charley’s Grilled Subs is a massively bigger chain than I realized
  2. I brilliantly left home without a memory card in my DSLR, so this is an iPhone edition! (I even checked a few places in the mall for a small card on the spot but came up empty)
Since I ended up using my phone to take the photos for this post I was thinking I would eventually go back and do it properly, but now that I see how enormous a chain this is I’m just going to call this one final.  Anyway, obviously I went to Charley’s Grilled Subs tonight.  It’s located in the food court between Panda Express and Kai Hawaiian BBQ.  This is yet another cheesesteak focused business (no more cheesesteaks for a while, I promise!).  Similarly to the new Cheesesteak Shop they are using LCD displays for their menus, and with them they’ve made the same mistake and made the text size pretty small and difficult to read.  Standing about 6 feet back from the counter in line I was able to make out the titles of the items.  The descriptions were way too small though.  Once I got up to the counter I was able to focus in on them better and see what they were.  Here they have no paper take out menu (at least none that are sitting out front) so if you have trouble reading the menu you’re gonna have a bad time.
I decided on a small Bacon 3 Cheese Steak (steak, bacon, swiss, cheddar, provolone) and an order of the Buffalo & Bleu Gourmet Fries (perhaps a new or soon to be discontinued item, this does not appear on their website, it was fries with hot Buffalo sauce and blue cheese crumbles).  My cheesesteak was ready in about 3 minutes with the fries following by about a minute.  Both were hot and steaming as I sat down in the food court.  The fries were very crispy and the buffalo sauce looked and felt like molten lava, so I let that cool off a bit.
On my cheesesteak I went with most of the available toppings: onions, mushrooms, lettuce & tomato (though I changed my mind and removed it).  The roll was soft and tasty, though I doubt it was an Amoroso roll like the good places use, it didn’t seem to have the same texture.  The steak was fairly similar to the stuff I had at Cheesesteak Grille and Cheesesteak Shop, but maybe a bit less flavorful and moist.  With the swiss, cheddar and provolone however, it was a fine steak.  I don’t recall there being much in the way of onions, but the mushrooms were plentiful and excellent.  Thin strips of bacon were hidden deep in the roll, and I suspect they were the microwave variety due to their texture, but they had decent flavor.  I had hoped for more cheese since it was the “3 Cheese steak.”
 
I picked at the fries a bit in-between bites of the cheesesteak, but by the time I went full on into them after the steak was gone they were fairly soggy fries.  The Buffalo sauce was very bright orange, and a lot hotter than I expected (not temperature hot).  Consecutive bites required a follow up with a swig of Dr Pepper.  The blue cheese wasn’t as strong as I like but it was just strong enough to mello out the sauce when I got a big chunck with a few fries.  There isn’t quite enough to get one with every bite, so I found myself rationing them so that I had a couple good sized pieces to finish off the last of the fries with.  THese were pretty good, but nothing compared to the Urban Fries at Jack’s Urban Eats, which is what came to mind when I saw these on the menu.
All in all this wasn’t all that bad, considering it’s in a food court and I paid under $10 for the food and soda.  It’s not the best cheesesteak in Roseville by a long shot, but it’s worth checking out if you find yourself looking for a cheap bite while at the Galleria.

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#72: Chicago Fire

I’ve been trying to get to posting about Chicago Fire now for at least 5 months.  I went there back in January but got busy and never got a chance to write the post up.  This last weekend I got to try again.  I will sprinkle in some photos from the first visit as well (including this foggy one up top that I love).

Chicago Fire is a small chain of pizza restaurants in the Sacramento area.  There are two locations in Folsom, one in Midtown Sacramento and one here in Roseville.  My friends and I have long been fans of the Midtown location, so I was happy to see it take over the building by United Artists where Black Angus once lived.  They serve deep dish Chicago-style pizzas (I’ve never been to Chicago and had the real thing, so I’m not going to say that it is or isn’t legit, I just take them on their word).  They do have some other options as far as pizzas go including thin and stuffed crusts but I’ve never ventured from the deep-dish to see if they’re as good.  Now that I write that I think next time I’ll check out the thin and see how it is, I do love a good thin crust.

In all the times I’ve been to Chicago Fire, be it a few dozen times in Midtown or the handful of times in Roseville so far, I haven’t been super adventurous with my ordering.  I typically always start out with an order of Greek Fries (Shoestring fries tossed with fresh garlic, oregano, olive oil, grated parm & squeeze of lemon) and get a deep-dish pizza which ends up being all meat, combo,  pepperoni + green peppers or some half and half mix of 2 of those.

One thing to keep in mind here is that the deep dish pizzas take just over a half hour to make so be patient.  This weekend we called in our pizza order before my friends and I headed down to give them a head start since we were starving.  It was pretty late when we arrived, about 9:30pm.  The weather was amazing by then and I noticed that they had a couple of the large windows on the front side wide open (with screens).  We sat in a smaller area closer to the entryway where the windows were still closed though our server was more than happy to open them up for us on request.  I don’t think I’ve ever been to Chicago Fire in the Daylight but in the evening it’s a pretty dark place with lots of moody lighting.

This night our fries arrived within 10 minutes of sitting down (we did not order these over the phone with the pizza).  They were as good as they always are.  We squeezed the two lemon slices over the whole plate and dug in.  Most of the garlic was below the surface this time so the last half was really rich.  Our pizza arrived right after we finished up the fries.  Our server placed it on a metal stand that each table has one or two of.  I’m not sure what the intended purpose of the stand is (to keep a hot pan off the table?  To help minimize table space usage?) but I like that it keeps the pizza mostly out of the way and I can stash drinks and other things below it.  Here the server always asks if they may serve up the first slices for everyone, probably because getting the first slice out is a little difficult, especially since the pan sits so high up.  I’ve even had servers come by later and check if we wanted additional slices served up.  Generally I have good to great service here and Saturday night was no exception.  Opening up the windows was nice, he was friendly and on top of our refills till the end.

The pizza was great as usual.  I love the deep dish crust here even though I’m not usually into thicker crusts.  Usually it’s because I’d rather be enjoying the toppings and cheese than filling up on bread.  This crust is so good however that it’s about as enjoyable on it’s own when you reach the end of the slice.  They do a great job of taking all the things that I don’t like in other pizzas and turning my opinion completely around.  As an example, I don’t care much for heavy sauce or sauce on top of other toppings and I prefer cheese on top to hold everything in place .  Here the cheese goes on the bottom, the sauce on top, and I love it.  I always leave stuffed, with leftovers in hand and telling myself that a large is too much even for 3 hungry adults.  Unfortunately my stomach has other ideas the next time I come here for dinner.

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As of this posting the Google Map location was way off and south of Douglas so I used the Eating Through Roseville map instead.  I submitted a correction so hopefully that will be fixed soon.

#71: The Cheese Steak Shop

The Cheese Steak Shop is one of Roseville’s newest eateries having opened just over a week ago.  They are located next to Mas Mexican, by Mikuni and Century Theaters.  Jersey Mike’s used to reside here and I was extremely bummed when I showed up one day to find that they were gone.  Not long after I had discovered the Cheesesteak Grille on Sierra College I learned that this new shop would be opening in the summer.  I’ve looked forward to it as my interest in a good cheesesteak has rapidly grown since having my first one not long ago.

From what I had read on the Roseville Patch, Reddit and other tidbits I found here and there it looked like they were striving for an authentic Philly cheesesteak experience, from the famous Amoroso rolls, imported peppers and Tasty Kakes.  I believed this would be The Cheesesteak Grille’s closest competitor.  I brought along my personal cheesesteak expert, Justin, last Saturday to see what he thought.

We arrived at about 1:3o in the afternoon to a very light crowd.  Waiting behind the single person in line I started to look at the menu, well, try to look at the menu would be a better way to put that.  They opted for 2 large LCD panels as their menus.  I’m a big fan of this trend.  I like the way they look, I like that they can easily be updated without McGyvering an expensive printed menu on the wall and most of all I like how dynamic they can be made (see movie theaters or mall food courts for good examples).  Here however they simply displayed a static, mostly text based menu that was way too small to comfortably read from behind the counter.  I ended up snagging one of the printed to-go menus to look at. (Update 3/7/13: They have moved the LCDs so that they now hang just over the counter and angled down at you and are much easier to see.  In addition they also have a large printed menu on the wall and what looked like most of the menu printed and displayed on/around the counter just in front of the register.)

I hadn’t eaten since dinner the night before so I was particularly hungry.  I was almost immediately drawn to The King of Philly.  It’s their mid-sized (10″) cheesesteak with 50% more meat & cheese.  Justin ended up ordering the same thing.  I skimmed over the premium cheesesteaks for a moment but decided I wanted to stick with the classic.  I’ve had a few different styles of cheesesteak including the blue cheese variant at the Cheesesteak Grille.  While they can be interesting, I think I prefer the standard in most situations, so I went ahead with the King of Philly.  When asked if I wanted hot and/or sweet peppers I initially asked for hot peppers, then went ahead and said to put both on.  I ordered curly fries, a soda and grabbed a Tasty Kake to finish it off.  I never got a chance to try them at the Cheesesteak Grille since they were sold out the few times I went there.  I was a bit put off by the $2 price but was determined to see what they were all about.

After I filled my Dr Pepper up and sat down I noticed how unchanged the dining room was from the Jersey Mikes days.  It seemed they had the same tables, trash bins and even napkin dispensers.  Our cheesesteaks came out within about 5 minutes and they were steaming hot right off the grill.  I dug into the fries, which were also very hot, while I let the cheesesteak cool down a bit.  I usually like to dip curly fries in ranch.  I was not offered any and didn’t think to ask for some but these were very good on their own and I tore through them very quickly.  In true Justin fashion he was nearly done with his cheesesteak by the time I was just getting started on mine.

Justin’s Cheesesteak without peppers:

The Amoroso roll was pretty hefty with the extra steak and white american cheese.  It was soft yet sturdy, and on the inside was soaking up the excess juices, making it extra flavorful.  The steak itself was absolutely fantastic.  It was savory and juicy, and there was enough in the roll that it threatened to fall out unless I payed attention and held it at just the right angle while I ate.  The white american was well melted and creamy throughout the roll, save for a corner or two sticking outside.  A nice amount of grilled onions added a nice little flavor and texture to the whole thing.  I found the peppers to be way too strong and overpowering and by the end I had removed pretty much all of them.  I wanted to taste the cheesesteak and it wasn’t happening with them on top.

Finally I moved on to the Tasty Kakes.  They had several to choose from and I randomly grabbed Peanut Butter Kandy Kakes.  These were little disc shaped pieces of white cake with a thin layer of sweet peanut butter on top and coated with chocolate.  They were decent, a bit like a light version of a Reeses Peanut Butter Cup with cake in it.  Ultimately I think they are a bit overhyped and certainly not worth $2.

I happened to stop here once more today for a quick bite before running some errands and was informed that on Wednesdays, sides and desserts are half off.  I figured for a buck it would’t hurt to give a different Tasty Kake a shot, so I picked up the Cream Filled Chocolate Cupcakes to take home for later.  These ones tasted a lot more like the Hostess cupcakes which I’ve often heard they are similar to.  I wasn’t really impressed by these either.  $1 is a better price to try them out, but I doubt I’ll find myself ordering them again.

The Cheese Steak Shop is high on my list as far as a solid cheesesteak goes, either tied with or just slightly edging out The Cheesesteak Grille.  Justin said he liked Cheesesteak Grille better saying he felt they give you a bit more cheese there but that this was still a good one.  Menu visibility improvements are needed, but otherwise I’m really happy with this new shop.

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