About a week or so ago, I met the very classy DC celebrity blogger Lemmonex of “Culinary Couture” to introduce her to the concept of a real cheesesteak. Unfortunately, due to the fact that we live in DC, it is nearly impossible to find a true Philly cheesesteak in this city. I’ve tried many a place, but pretty much all of them violate a rule. What rules might you ask? Well, I’ve created the 5 golden rules of Philly cheesesteaks, which cannot be broken, or else you have not produced a true Philly cheesesteak. They are, as follows:
The Golden Rules of Philly Cheesesteaks
1: Must have the option of being served with Cheez Whiz. You can order it with Provolone, but we’ll know you aren’t from Philly.
2: Must be on an Italian roll
3: No other sauce must be involved other than grease and the aforementioned whiz
4: Other than onions, no other vegetables are allowed
5: Must be able to be served within 2 minutes of being ordered.
Optional (though preferred): Must be served by a guy who is at least 50 lbs overweight (25lbs of which is back hair)
So, the best place that I’ve found in the city is the Philadelphia Cheesesteak Factory in Georgetown (right by the key bridge). While it’s not the greatest cheesesteak ever, it is about as close as you can get down here.
Ok, so on with the review (and forgiving the fact that Lemmonex showed up 30 minutes late because she forgot that Georgetown is not located in Virginia, and took the bus a tad bit too far, but I digress….) To start, I ordered a cheesesteak with whiz and onions (in Philly, that’s known as “whiz with”) and a side of cheese fries – and Lemmonex ordered a cheesesteak with whiz, onions, and mushrooms (I tried not to be too obvious with my disgust, since we were just meeting for the first time. I mean, she seemed nice, but why would she do that to an innocent cheesesteak? Why???).
Pretty much right off the bat Philly Cheesesteak Factory breaks rule #5 (providing food within 2 minutes). You might think that this isn’t all that important, but it truly is. It’s part of the experience, and it shows the quality of the food. If you need to spend more than 2 minutes throwing some meat and cheese whiz on a bun…. well, do I need to say more? Also, they offer the opportunity to break rules 3 and 4, which throws caution into the wind, but I can overlook it as I have few other choices of venues in the city, and from a business perspective they do need to cater to the people with bad palates…errr I mean non-traditionalists of the DC area.
Once we received the cheesesteaks, I realized that I might need to add a few other rules to the above list. The cheesesteak had what felt like a 1/2 inch of cheez whiz slathered on TOP of the meat. Hellooooo? I didn’t order a cheez whiz and steak. I ordered a cheesesteak! In Philly, generally, they put the cheez whiz directly on the bun, and then pile the steak/onion combo on top, which then mixes all together with the grease, which didn’t happen in this case. I just kept getting big mouthfuls of cheez whiz, which by itself, isn’t exactly the tastiest thing on earth. The 2nd problem I immediately identified was that the onions were cut way too large. This unwelcome modification made their taste a bit overwhelming. That said, the meat was of good quality, tender, and had a relatively pleasant level of grease cooked into it. I won’t comment on Lemmonex’s experience as she ordered the whole thing with mushrooms and thus should be strung up (or at least heckled and boo’d by anyone from Philly. Booo! BOOOO!!)
Overall, it wasn’t a terrible experience, in fact, it was a nice reminder of Philly. Sort of like looking at pictures of a past vacation – you get a nice remembrance, but its never does the original justice. Of course, I just ate at Geno’s in Philly about 2 weeks earlier, so my expectations were pretty high… but if you are a poor soul like Lemmonex, and haven’t had the glory of trying a Philadelphia Cheesesteak and don’t want to drive 3 hours… welllllllll this is the place to go.
And that, my friends, is something worth blogging about……. or not.