I do love a good sandwich place, and I do not subscribe to the theory of soup only in the cooler months. I want soup with my sandwiches year round, and I don’t mean gazpacho.
I’ve mentioned some of my favorite sandwiches in past columns. Those who know me understand I have issues on both sides of the line when it comes to sandwiches. I know I do. On one hand I often place too much importance on my love for sandwiches and should lighten up. On the other hand I can get overly fired up when a sandwich doesn’t meet my expectations. For this, I should also lighten up.
When I got the call for this week’s assignment at Stevie’s Kitchen, I knew it would be chock full of Boar’s Head meats and plenty of bread choices. What I didn’t expect was the expansive menu including shrimp salad, Chicago dogs, quesadillas and stuffed potatoes along with a daily special.
I was in the mood to sample as much as I can, so dining in wasn’t an option. It’s a day for packing in about three meals in one order to review a cross section of what these guys have to offer. The special of the day was red beans and rice with Mexican cornbread, but it was Thursday. I reserve Monday for what partially made New Orleans famous, so that was out. But hey, more room for sandwiches. I grabbed a couple of soups, a couple of sandwiches, a couple desserts, a side salad and a single loaded potato and headed out into the fall rain.
Let’s break this down one at a time. I first popped open a bowl of seafood gumbo ($8.50). For the price this is a hefty amount. My particular bowl was a medium/dark roux with tiny gumbo shrimp and crawfish tails that appeared in almost every spoonful. This also had sausage, which I don’t mind in my seafood gumbo, and the dish as a whole was very good. Above average, I’d say. Maybe it was a touch on the salty side, but there wasn’t much rice. I don’t mind, for that can only mean more gumbo. It was too much to finish if I was going to sample everything else.
Soup number two was chicken pasta ($4 per cup). Well seasoned and full of flavor, this is basically chicken noodle with veggies. Not bad for a rainy Thursday, and I never touched a cracker. It was perfect with a side salad ($4.25). They make their ranch dressing in house. I commented that was usually the only dressing restaurant chefs didn’t make. It was a winner.
Just as I was replacing the lid on the soup the clock struck sandwich time. The first of my sandwich duo was Ricky’s Philly cheese steak ($9.75). The menu promises this one is the best in town. They could be right. Mushrooms, bell peppers, onions came with pepper jack and provolone with horseradish cream sauce. I must admit this was one tasty sandwich. If there was a complaint it was that I would have enjoyed more veggies, but in the end I appreciated that it was not a gargantuan food coma-inducing contraption. A nice, nutty not-too-soupy broccoli salad accompanied the Philly.
All was well. Then disaster struck. I opened my muffaletta ($10, Central Grocery spells it muffuletta so that’s how I spell it) box to find my muffaletta was not a muffuletta at all. It was a hoagie. The deception is unforgivable.
I’ve said it before and I will say it with my last breath. If you have a muffaletta on your menu and it comes on a hoagie or French bread or anything besides muffuletta bread then it isn’t a muffuletta! The bread came before the sandwich. Call it a muffuletta po-boy or something. That’s like ordering a pizza and getting it home to find out it’s really a pizza sandwich.
I should have read the fine print, but I thought I knew what a muffuletta was. Sure, it had ham, salami, kudos for the capicollo on the menu but I found none on mine, a bit of olive salad (you can’t fit enough on French bread) and an odd twist of spicy mustard. It’s not that it tasted bad. It just wasn’t what my mouth was aching for.
If you think I’m being a little harsh then see the disclaimer in the first paragraph. I’m working on it. I need a therapist who specializes in New Orleans sandwich therapy. Maybe hypnotism is in order.
Deep breath. Find your happy place, Andy.
The day was not ruined by the sandwich. It came with loaded potato salad that had kind of a ranchy hint. I enjoyed it.
From the stuffed baked potato menu I selected one called the Kitchen Sink ($9.75). The menu reads “a twice baked potato stuffed with cheese, scallions, Boar’s Head bacon, butter, sour cream, and chicken.” Sounded good to me, and it was. The only thing that struck me as odd was the chicken. This was shredded barbecue chicken. Though the menu never said anything about barbecue, and the smell hit me immediately. But you know I really didn’t mind it. Sure it was a bit strange, but it was pretty good. The portions were incredibly large.
French Silk pie ($4.75) was amazing but was overshadowed by peanut butter pie (also $4.75). I strongly suggest on your next visit you not leave without trying this when it’s available.
So here’s the skinny. I like this place. I like this place a lot. It’s hard to keep my mouth shut on a subject I feel so strongly about, and muffulettas and chicken on a stick occupy more of my thoughts than they should. Stevie’s Kitchen is a cool lunch spot (open 10 a.m. until 3 p.m., closed Sunday) and on most days a $10 bill will get you a special and a drink with some change for a tip.
They deserve our support. I’m certain that despite my complaining these folks will be around for quite a while, hopefully long enough to order some muffuletta bread.
41 West I-65 Service Road N., Suite 150