I was a late comer to food blogging in 2011 with my first post just a few weeks ago. With 2012 now underway, I took time to reflect on my last years gastronomic experiences. The two places that quickly jumped to mind were Steuben's, Denver CO and Sokolowskis University Inn, Cleveland OH.
During an early October, 2011 vacation to Denver, I took advantage of an opportunity to visit Steuben's. Established in 2006, it has endeared itself to Denverites, particularly for its Maine Lobster Roll. Steuben's and its lobster roll was featured on Food Networks Guy Fieri's Diners, Drive-ins and Dives. Steuben's menu is sufficiently expanse that there is something for everybody. And, being in the city with more microbrews per capita that any place else in the United States, there is a sufficiently expanse beer menu that, aside from soft drinks and tea, offers something for everybody.
My wife ordered the talked about Maine Lobster Roll. Being in the southwest, I had to get something less eastern and ordered the Cubano. Yeah, I know, it's Latin American. I had a bite of my wife's lobster roll and, like her, wasn't really impressed. It seemed a bit soggy and a bit fishy tasting. We think that Guy missed the mark on that one.
But, the Cubano, this sandwich rocked! Pork product is one of my most favorite foods to prepare or have prepared for me. I've made my own Cuban sandwiches and have also ordered them when out. But, I have to concede that this is the best pork sandwich I've ever eaten. Soft and tender, extremely flavorful pork pressed into a sandwich - 9 bucks. I'd easily pay 10 for this one. Never having been to Cuba, though, I cannot tell you whether it is authentic. But authenticity doesn't matter here. It's how it wows the taste buds that counts.
Sokolowskis University Inn, Cleveland OH
Tucked away just a few blocks from the Interbelt Freeway in the Tremont neighborhood, at 1201 University Road, is Sokolowskis University Inn. I can't imagine what this place looked like when it was established in 1923 but, I can tell you that it looks like it's been around for awhile. When I walked in, it felt like I was visiting an old friend. I hadn't realized, until I got there, that service is cafeteria style.
When I arrived at about 5:00 on a November Saturday evening, I found myself about 80 to 100 people back in the line. This gave me plenty of time to see what others were bring back to their tables. Along the well worn path to the service counter were numerous word processed menus posted in a variety of places. A white marker board at the front of the service counter reiterated that night's specials. Looking at people's plates and seeing the menu, it didn't take but a moment to realize that this place is strictly comfort food.
It took about 20 minutes to arrive at the service counter. I was first presented with self-serve desert. Deserts included several cake and pie varieties. Then came the appetizer, side and entree selections. After that 20 minute wait, I had my heart and mind settled on having the Veal Schnitzel. How disappointed I was to find that the fellow ahead of me had ordered the last one.
I now had to scramble for an alternative as I was next to order. I quickly decided on the Salisbury Steak. For my two sides, I ordered the red cabbage and upgraded the second, for .50 cents more, for two potato filled pierogi. Surprisingly, I easily found a seat. Once seated with my tray 'o food, I looked about and saw that the cafeteria line had at least doubled from my starting point.
Quite simply, this is good, home cooked comfort food at an exceptionally reasonable price! In business since 1923, they've got to be doing something right! The Salisbury Steak very good. It was about the size and shape of a softball and covered with gravy. While the red cabbage was ok, the potato filled pierogi were hot and tender. The meal price also included a fresh salad bar. Mom would not have approved of desert being first, but she would have been proud that I cleaned my plate. I had a taste of the Chicken Paprikash from my wife's plate. Folks, if you can't get the schnitzel, get this. It was amazing! At the end of this meal, I was full. Should you go to Sokolowskis, Eat up!
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