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Sam’s Philly Steaks

June 28, 2010

  • 655 Eastern Avenue SE
  • Grand Rapids, MI 49503
  • (616) 245-4455
  • No Known Website
  • Menu

Still not used to having a dinner break where I have to get somewhere and get back in less than an hour.  It’s been a long time since I worked a job like that.  That’s the case now.  As I’m still feeling out Grand Rapids, sometimes, I’m gonna make mistakes on timing or if places even still exist.

J drove by a wing joint last week and told me it looked like a place I would love.  I found it online and saw it was near where I work, so I headed there.  Well, it used to be near where I worked.  In fact, there used to be several locations in the area.  Not anymore.  At least two address within five miles of where I am were closed.  The one she went by was fifteen minutes the other direction.  No way I could make.

I started heading back the way I came when I came across what look like a fairly new, brightly painted building that had signs boasting not only the Philly Steaks that are in it’s name, but Chicago Style food, pizza, and chicken wings.

I made a couple awkward u-turns to get back to Sam’s Philly Steak’s on the corner of Eastern Avenue and Dunham in Grand Rapids’ Baxter Neighborhood. 

I really couldn’t figure out the parking situation.  There’s a cut-out in the front of the building that looks to be street parking, but there’s also a sign for the Rapid and I didn’t want to mistakenly park in a bus stop, so I went around the corner.

There’s a small parking lot behind the building, but it’s also connected to an apartment building, so I had no idea if that was parking for Sam’s or not.  I didn’t chance that either and ended up parking on Dunham Street across from the restaurant.

The inside of Sam’s is dominated by the huge, open kitchen.  There’s a small walkway that leads you to the order area.  Along the way, you get a pretty good look at the pizza slices in a rotating warmer and the dessert case.

The menu board is pretty far away from the counter.  It’s on a wall above the deep fryer which is on the other side of the building.  If your eyesight is not as good as it used to be, they have paper menus on the counter as well.

I looked over the menu for quite a while to find what I wanted.  The sign for chicken wings drew me in, but I assumed there would be a fifteen minute wait while those were made.  I was hungry now and needed to get back to work.

The menu is pretty large and filled with artery busting selections.  Most of it is deep fried.  The rest is some kind of meat on bread and pizza.

I found my favorite sandwich.  The Italian Beef w/Fries.  The clerk asked if I wanted hot peppers, cheese, and dipped.  I said yes to all three.

Since the kitchen was open, I got to watch the sandwich being made.  The beef is not made in house.  I actually saw them open a vacuum sealed bag of frozen beef and dump it into the au jus.  While that was heating up, the cook took a bun and ladled nacho cheese on the bottom.  I’m not really fan of that.  I like sliced mozzarella or provolone on my beef.  Only once have I seen liquid cheese on an Italian beef in Chicago and I wasn’t a fan of it then either.  When he was done with that, the beef came out of the au jus and on to the bun.  He then soaked the bun and spooned on a couple scoops of real hot giardiniera.  The fries were being cooked as he was doing this and needed a few more minutes until they could also be seasoned and throw in to the to-go box.

It took a little less than ten minutes and set me back around seven and a half bucks with no drink.  I grabbed the box and headed back to work.  I ate the fries on the way and they were alright.  They were typical restaurant fries that had a seasoned salt on them.  They were good, but I couldn’t wait to get in to the beef.

When I got back to the break room, I tried to pick up the sandwich, but the bun had disintegrated.  Fine by me.  I like it that way.  I did my best to pick it up, but it was really messy.  I went and grabbed a fork.  The bun, or what was left of it, was soft and flaky.  Just like a real Chicago joint.  The meat was ok.  Not super tender, but it was frozen once so that probably had something to do with it.  The giardiniera was perfect.  It was hot yet sweet.  Again, true Chicago giardiniera.  Like I figured, the cheese was frustrating.  It just ran everywhere after the bun fell apart and really just made a big mess worse.  I like the stringiness of mozzarella and that was missing from this sandwich with the liquid cheese.

All in all, it was a pretty good meal.  Sam’s Philly Steak’s wasn’t what I went looking for, but it was a decent find.  They do the food I like to eat.

Italian Beef w/Fries

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