As we’ve seen a few times, even the best laid plans don’t always come off as anticipated. I had indicated an intent to split four cheesesteaks with a pair of friends this week – two Tuesday and two more today – in my last post. Unfortunately, due to unforeseeable circumstances, the friend who was supposed to accompany me on today’s outing had to cancel.
I quickly put Plan B into action.
There were three steaks in South Jersey, in addition to one near Trenton, I still needed to try going into today. I thought I’d knock two of them off, but needed to settle for one. It’s actually not significant in the big scheme that I have laid out in my head. Rather than eating two of the three remaining South Jersey steaks and going for the third on my own at some point in the next few weeks, I reversed that. My friend and I will hopefully reschedule for the other two places during that same time period.
With only one steak on my agenda, I decided to go for what looked to be the biggest and heaviest of the three options based on photos. That’s a relative proposition, as all three appear to be quite hefty. But I settled on Raceway Bagels by B-Uno’s in Berlin, New Jersey, which stuffs a pound of chopped ribeye and a whole lot of Cooper Sharp cheese into each steak.
They are another late addition to my list of places to hit before finishing up this project. They don’t appear to have been around for more than a year or two. The first time I heard of them was two or three weeks ago, when someone posted a photo of their cheesesteak accompanied by a rave on Facebook. I saw another great review with a photo a week or so later and decided I needed to try them.
Naturally, the first thought that entered my mind when I saw them mentioned was that it’s odd for a bagel shop to sell any cheesesteaks, let alone potentially great ones. It turns out the owner, Mo, who is an extremely nice guy, is one of the former owners of Oh Brother, a popular steak shop in Philly’s historic district that I wrote about in early June. He told me he didn’t see the need to refrain from serving steaks at his new place, just because it happened to be a bagel shop. I like his way of thinking.
Raceway promotes their use of Liscio’s seeded rolls, which regular readers of this blog should be familiar with. I spotted one of their boxes on my way in.
It’s a very small shop, but I was delighted to see they at least have a counter with a few stools for those wishing to eat there. I would have otherwise eaten the steak in my car. It’s a hot day and there was what appeared to be some sort of summer camp swim outing in an inflatable pool in the parking lot. While it was great that the kids were having so much fun, they were also making an unbelieve amount of noise. The shop had comfortable air-conditioning and music that was at least somewhat more conducive to eating than the sound of a couple dozen kids screaming at the top of their lungs.
Their soda selection was not up there with what I’ve been seeing at some of the other places I’ve visited lately, but they did have Stewart’s root beer, and I grabbed one.
After the difficulty I had a few weeks ago at Lorenzo’s Steaks & Hoagies, I was disappointed to see my steak wasn’t cut in half upon unwrapping it.
I could immediately see it would be a challenge to eat this one as is, so I took it back up to the counter and requested that they cut it. It only took a moment, but likely made for a much easier eating experience.
This steak had a lot in common with the one I ate a couple months ago in Lillo’s. In fact, Mo acknowledged to me that he was influenced by their success. As is the case at Lillo’s, the roll was lightly toasted and had been hit with a bit of garlic-flavored spread. If anything, it could have been toasted a little longer. I’ve mentioned that Liscio’s rolls vary significantly from customer to customer. The one used by Raceway is on the soft side and not very crusty. The little bit of crunch from toasting it was helpful.
And while I suspect that it will become increasingly popular among the Cheesesteak Gurus on Facebook as the word gets out, for me, there was a bit too much cheese on there. Unlike my experience last week at Curly’s, where they also use an abundance of both meat and cheese, I had trouble tasting the ribeye over the Cooper Sharp. But this is very much a matter of personal taste. I’ve had steaks where there was both a ton of cheese and it wasn’t distributed well throughout. That wasn’t the case here. It was very well blended with the meat. The many who like a huge amount of cheese on their steaks will probably love this sandwich. I am just more of a proportion guy.
I drove for about 10 miles in each direction on the White Horse Pike – U.S. 30 – during my steak outing today. It had been the route used by Philadelphians who were heading to Atlantic City or other South Jersey short points in the days before highways. And it still looks like something out of the mid-20th century in spots.
I was able to snap a few photos on the way back, after seeing where everything was in route to the bagel shop.
Seeing a roadside giant was the topper. My wife and I saw a few when we drove Rt. 66 from Chicago to St. Louis in 2012.
Some of you know how nostalgic I am. I love seeing this kind of stuff and have driven around various parts of the country looking for it.
If no other new cheesesteaks that look like they need to be addressed pop up over the next few weeks, I should be down to my last four or five new steaks, along with one or two more return visits. I’ll then put out a post in which I’ll address whatever I’d like to regarding this entire process and how it came to be, as well as where I plan to take the blog from here. That will be followed by lists of the best steak rolls and the best pizza I’ve had during my cheesesteak outings. Then I’ll put out my final list of the region’s best steaks.
My tentative plan is to eat my last steak before doing all of that by September 16 and to put out the final list on the 22nd of the same month.