Friday, November 30, 2012

I Went to Philly (Toronto, On)

Redeeming the Philly Cheese Steak One at a Time

Back in 2007 Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson put a name on something we all knew existed, The Bucket List. We all have a list, in our minds or otherwise, of things to do before we die. We just didn’t know what to call it. Some of us have even compartmentalized them by genre. Lots, such as myself, have a food bucket list. A list of to food related things do/eat. For me, a trip to Philadelphia and a Cheese Steak showdown between the two iconic purveyors, bitter rivals and cross street neighbours, Pat’s King of Steaks and Geno’s Steaks. There are people who tell you those places aren’t where the best are and I’m sure they feel they’re right. In time, I may agree. But these two stars of the Cheese Steak world, sitting on opposite corners of the same intersection are the faces of the great Philly Cheese Steak.
In 2011, Jack and Julie Stevenson took a trip to Philadelphia and of course, the famous intersection. For Jack, a car salesman and Julie, a home maker and mother of 3 grown kids, it changed their life.

I Went to PhillyUpon returning home Jack, having felt he’d sold “One too many cars” quit his job, teamed up with Julie and decided to fill Toronto’s cheese steak void. In August of 2012 they opened I Went to Philly. Selling fresh cut fries and cheese steaks.

IWTP InteriorI Went to Philly sits on Toronto’s main drag, Yonge St. Occupying a dime a dozen store front it’s decked out loud and proud. There’s slogans and other adverts all over the front.
Inside the red and white checkered floor and tile detail give it a nice feel. There’s seating for almost two dozen and an open kitchen. This is where the sandwiches are assembled, fries are cooked and anything else needed to fill out orders. There’s also a kitchen in back doing prep work.

So let’s get a look at what the Stevenson’s learned on their trip to Philly.
Yoo-hooYoo-hoo has become an iconic American drink. “The name literally beckons” is a line in The Big Bang Theory. This chocolate drink, born in New Jersey in the 20’s by an Italian-American soft drink purveyor named Natale Olivieri. Originally sold in his store it quickly became mass marketed and by 1950, when Yankee great Yogi Berra promoted it, became a household name.
Let’s face it, when the first ingredient is water you kinda get an idea of what it’s like. It’s, quite simply, chocolate flavoured water. It’s fine. It’s pretty inoffensive and since it’s a tradition in the great cheese steak emporiums of Philly, I partook. When in Rome right?? They also offer it in tetra packs and cans.

Philly Cheese FriesI will warn you first, the “Heart attack on a plate” Cheese Steak Fries are a meal in and of themselves. Fresh cut fries, which can stand proudly on their own, are smothered in steak and Cheez Whiz. Just flat out artery clogging goodness.

Pizza FriesAs good as those fries are, the Pizza Fries are even better. The same dish minus the steak but with marinara and fried pepperoni. First off, how they could stay as crisp as they did through all that liquidy goodness is beyond me. But there we were at the bottom of the dish commenting on the crunch they still possessed. The whole thing just worked. Especially where you got a little bit of everything. Fabulous.

IW2P Cheesesteak BurgerThey grind their own beef and form quarter pound patties and offer a pretty respectable burger. I opted here to add a cheese steak on top. So beef, provolone, steak/onion mixture and topped with wiz. I was asked if I wanted any condiments but I correctly declined. This is the best of both worlds. The meats complement each other nicely and cheese really smooths things out. A fantastic burger.

Philly Cheese SteakThe Philly Cheese Steak, the star of our show this day is excellent. As I stated above I can’t speak to the true authenticity but I can tell you it’s a terrific sandwich. I ordered mine “Traditional Wit.” Basically, provolone and whiz (traditional) and onions (wit) that get sautéed along with the meat. It comes on a “Hoagie” or sub bun and is ooey, gooey goodness. My only two complaints are these. I’d like a little more onion on mine. I love onions and bites with a bit more were just better. Secondly, and this drives me crazy, if you offer drip down your arm food, offer napkins up to the task. The cheap ones pulled from a chrome dispenser are all but useless.

IW2P Pepperoni Pizza PhillyIf a cheesesteak isn’t your thing but pizza is they offer the Pepperoni Pizza Philly which is really just another way of saying, pizza sub. Loaded with fried pepperoni and a home made marinara sauce and topped with mozzarella cheese it’s really great. It could be awesome, I think, if they’d dial it back a bit on the sauce. I felt it partially drowned out the pepperoni. That’s just minor tweaking to suit my tastes though. Your mileage may vary.

Pepperoni PhillyIf the cheesesteak is your thing but you love pepperoni too, then this unnamed sandwich on their non existent secret menu is right up your alley. A cheese steak with fried pepperoni. OMG this is awesome. As funny as it may seem, this is probably the best thing I’ve had from them. Yet my favourite is still the Traditional Wit (extra wit).

Chicken and Waffles (IW2P)If you don’t eat red meat then the Chicken and Waffles may be right up your alley. At the time of this writing they aren’t yet on the menu however if you ask, they’ll hook you up. A unique take on this soon to be the next great thing dish in that they are served as popcorn chicken in a waffle cone. Drizzled with syrup and a dusted lightly with powdered sugar. Different yet delicious. The cone is probably the best I’ve had. The pieces of chicken breast are deep fried in a Frosted Flake batter. Overall this is a well balanced dish of sweet and savoury. It walks a fine line but can easily be a meal or, dare I say it, Chicken and Waffles for dessert??

So there you have it folks, Toronto’s first full time cheese steak emporium.

You can find I Went to Philly at 462 Yonge St. Toronto, On.

You can also find them on facebook and Twitter.

Well that’s all for now folks, we’ll see ya next time in the food court.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for posting. I was awaiting your review before deciding whether to check this place out or not.