There are some sandwiches that I run into that don’t necessarily wow me with their complexity or knock my socks off with their original combinations: they simply taste good. I encountered one of those very ‘wiches over on the South Side at the Carson Street Deli recently. The CSD isn’t exactly a spectacle, either: it’s just your typical deli that cranks out all kinds of spectacularly arranged sandwiches. It’s a satisfying place to be.
Now, I’ve sampled their Classic Italian, which is a quality sandwich, but this time I decided to try my father’s favorite sandwich at the CSD called the “Cheesy Beefy”. It consists of: “Hot Roast Beef, Melted Hot Pepper & Swiss Cheeses, Green & Red Peppers, Onion and Ranch Dressing on a French Baguette”. I forwent the green and red peppers (unless roasted, I’m not much of a pepper person. Sorry!) but kept the rest of the ingredients, and let me tell you that the folk at the CSD know what they’re up to.
The combination of roast beef and cheese isn’t exactly a novel approach to making a sandwich, but you have to execute well. And they do. As I was eating the sandwich, I began to feel like I had tasted the flavors I was getting before. With each bite, I got closer and closer. Then it hit me: Macaroni and Cheese! That’s exactly what the combination of hot pepper and swiss cheeses create: a cheesy deliciousness that is melty and warm and gooey, but not so much so that it approaches a liquid state. It’s in that perfect middle ground that is also occupied by mac n’ cheese, which goes fantastically with the uber-tender roast beef. It was basically the utopian roast beef and cheese sandwich: perfect cheese melted over tender, melt-in-your-mouth roast beef.
There certainly were other things that stuck out on the Cheesy Beefy: for one thing, the sandwich-folk making this powerhouse decided to substitute ranch dressing for the typical horseradish-with-roast beef idea, and it works wonders. At first, you think it’s horseradish because of the bite provided from the onions sprinkled liberally through the ‘wich. I was actually fooled into thinking it was horseradish. But when I looked at the description again, it all made sense: there is an extra little light characteristic at the bottom between the bread and the beef, only accessible through ranch. Horseradish would be too heavy, but they make up for it by combining onions and ranch. GENIUS.
Like I said, a sandwich doesn’t have to be earth-shatteringly brilliant or ingeniously combined with a special ingredient to wow me. Once in a while, you simply need a ‘wich that simply makes you happy. This is one of those. It could almost be classified as soul-food in my book: it takes the calming taste of mac n’ cheese, combines it with tender roast beef, and adds a cool-yet-spicy kick with the ranch-onion combo. Creative sandwich-craft, but not over the top. Just the way I like it.