God, Football and Sandwiches: A Sunday at Tat's Deli

"Sunday autumn afternoons were made for three things: leaves in the yard, football on the TV and sandwiches in your hands. Church is for those who don't understand how important it is to get to the best sandwich shops early enough to jump the lines and not miss kickoff.

Nobody [at Tat's] asked me if I wanted my cheesesteak with Cheese Whiz, so Tat's got bonus points right there. Seriously, the Cheese Whiz thing? Someone needs to put a stop to that. A cheesesteak is made with white American cheese, period. Cheese Whiz is for dimwits, for Pat's and Geno's fans who've been fooled by the hype. Tat's offers it, but they don't push it. They offer lots of things on their cheesesteaks (mushrooms and peppers, both hot and sweet) that no right-thinking person would order. But Tatman and Sichel have to make a living, I guess. And some people eat strange things.

The cheesesteaks were good, bordering on great. The texture was right: a bite of cheesesteak should be heavy, hot and damp. The bread should have a little crust to it, but be soft and spongy within. The meat ought to be partly burnt, partly soft and roughly chopped by some angry, overworked grillman going after it with a long spatula wielded like a hatchet. Tat's cheesesteak had all of that; my only complaint was the presence of too much black pepper."

From "The Bigger East," this week's review of the new Tat's Deli.

And seriously, 3000 miles gone from the ancestral home of the cheesesteak, I'm not gonna complain too much about someone going a little heavy on the pepper. I would've liked the sandwich more if it was perfect, sure. I would've also liked it if it came garnished with hundred dollar bills and served on the dashboard of a new Ferrari. But beggars and choosers, you know?

And besides, the reason I'd ended up at Tat's in the first place was because, somewhere across town, I'd just had one of the worst cheesesteaks of my entire life--a horror of a sandwich, coming out of a kitchen operating with all the cool and aplomb of a battleship crew right after the first torpedo hits.

So check out the full review tomorrow, folks--on the stands and online. And for those of you East Coast expats out there who haven't yet found Tat's, you gotta go. Trust me: for the Tat'strami sandwich alone, you'll be thanking me, and if you're hard up and jonesing bad, the cheesesteak ain't too bad either.

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