Last Minute Audible Scores Big

I had big plans for lunch today. My friend Andy and I were meeting at a suburban Chinese restaurant with a menu that looks like it’s out of the 1970s. They even have foil-wrapped chicken, which is a favorite of mine and extremely difficult to find in this region. I had worked out our entire order in advance. Then we arrived and noticed on our way in that they have a sign on their window indicating that they are only serving takeout. Part of the planned order would have been a PuPu Platter with a flaming mini-hibachi. That clearly wasn’t happening with takeout. We decided to scrap the idea altogether and return to Chinese at a later date. 

We needed to make a quick decision on where to have lunch. Andy initially suggested I follow him to McNally’s Tavern in the Chestnut Hill section of Philadelphia. They are known for a sandwich called the Schmitter. I’ve been to McNally’s, but not since the 90s. While I wasn’t interested in a Schmitter, as I don’t like all of its ingredients, I remembered liking their hot roast beef sandwiches back in the day and was happy to go along with the idea. But when I mentioned hot roast beef, Andy changed course and led me to Ye Olde Ale House in Lafayette Hill, which is a western suburb of Philly and just a few minutes from where we were. They are known for hot roast beef and he thought I’d like their sandwich more than the one at McNally’s. 

Ye Olde Ale House of Lafayette Hill, Pennsylvania

It’s a fairly standard-looking tavern with lots of wood paneling and sports on TV. But according to my friend, their hot roast beef sandwich is a cut above the ordinary. 

Not long after we arrived and sat down, a large roast beef was brought out from the kitchen and placed on a table behind the bar, where it was carved for sandwiches. 

Hot roast beef being carved for sandwiches.

But they had a fairly considerable array of offerings on their menu beyond hot sandwiches, including cheese and crackers with pepperoni, which sounds like something I would have been served at one of the old Iowa steakhouses I ate at in 2018. I was happy to see a selection of seafood appetizers and platters and ordered a dozen steamed clams for a pre-roast beef warm-up. 

I have to confess to being somewhat shocked at how the steamed clams were served. They appear to steam the clams inside of a plastic bag and then just put the bag on a plate with sides of melted butter and natural clam juice. My first thought was that they were probably microwaved. I didn’t ask, and to my surprise once again, they were good enough for me to not care. The clams were not as small as little-necks often are and were perfectly tender, with a nice, fairly mild flavor, which the melted butter added to. I think I’d still have preferred that they remove the clams from the bag and serve them to me more traditionally.

Andy went with a pretty classic-looking house salad.

My steamed clams arrive at the table. I used to fork to poke the bag open.

When I ordered my roast beef on a Kaiser roll, Andy recommended that I ask for “tips,” which means having the carver include slices from the outer layer of the meat, so that I would get the heavily-seasoned crust that develops while it goes through the roasting process. It’s somewhat analogous to brisket burnt ends in barbecue.

Andy knows what he’s talking about because this was unquestionably among the best hot roast beef sandwiches I’ve ever eaten, and having the meat carved from that outer layer made a difference, both texturally and in terms of flavor. It was probably saltier than it would have been if carved regularly, but I didn’t think the salt was over-the-top and liked all that extra seasoning a lot. The gravy on top was also very good and added an extra layer of moisture. 

There are several bread options, but a Kaiser roll is the classic way to have a hot roast beef sandwich.
A nice piece from the outer layer of the roast beef right on top. It added flavor and texture to what I’m sure would have been a good sandwich even without it.

As much as I enjoyed my meal at Ye Olde Ale House, especially that roast beef sandwich, I’ve got a fairly strong craving for Chinese food now that I’ll have to satisfy before too long. 

Published by BZ Maestro

I live outside of Philadelphia and have been food-obsessed for as long as I can remember. After toying with the idea of starting a blog for a fairly long time, the extinction of a food-themed message board that I frequented for years prompted me to finally take action. Thank you for taking the time to check out what I've been up to - and eating. If you've enjoyed what you have read and seen, please consider clicking the "like" button and signing up as a follower.

3 thoughts on “Last Minute Audible Scores Big

  1. That’s a good-looking sandwich! Is extra gravy/jus available for those who might like to eat the sandwich dip-style?

    The terms “continental fries” and “Montreal jerk seasoning” are unfamiliar to me. Are the fries a Philly or regional thing? And I’ve heard of Montreal steak seasoning and Montreal smoked meat, but to me “jerk” is Caribbean.


    1. To tell you the truth, I don’t know with regard to the continental fries and Montreal jerk seasoning. I did notice some people having fries with gravy, which I don’t like.

      The server asked if we wanted the sandwiches with the gravy on there or on the side. I went with the former, but might consider getting it on the side if I go back there. It would probably make for easier eating.


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