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Ford News Wins Informal Steak and Cheese Challenge

Five days, five of Middletown's Main Street restaurants. The contest? Who makes the finest Philadelphia-style grinder or sandwich.

No matter what you call it — steak and cheese, cheesesteak, Philadelphia or Philly cheesesteak — there are at least twice as many ways to prepare one and very few achieve perfection.

I visited five city restaurants on or just off of Main Street for lunch during work and ordered steak and cheese sandwiches. I rated them for price and quality — and came up with my own Greater Main Street Middletown Steak & Cheese Challenge.

Using a rating system of "A" for highest possible score and "F" for lowest, I graded each one. Here are the results:

, 102 Court Street. Price, $6.91. Grade: C

Very small size, was still hungry after I finished. Bread was good. Did well on the peppers, but very little onions and no mayo. That was hurtful. Not very greasy — that’s a bad thing. Steak wasn’t that good. Poor quality.

, 324 Main Street. Price, $8.19. Grade:  B-

Solid sub. Bread was too toasted. Good size which leads to good value on the pricing front. They were a little skimpy on the toppings (onions, peppers and mayo). Steak was slightly above average, nothing special: I’m looking for special.

, 83 Broad Street. Price, $6.33. Grade: B

Very good sandwich. Wish I could give it a higher grade but the burnt bread really hurt it. The meat was great, and the amount of peppers and onions was breathtaking. Lots of grease, which hit the spot. It was too skinny, though. Next time I will be requesting they don’t toast the bread and that alone should bring it up to A- territory. 

, 170 Main Street. Price, $7.35. Grade: B+

Very well done. Bread was perfect. Steak was perfect. Cheese content and distribution was spot-on. Everything just melts beautifully in your mouth. However, was a little small and they don’t offer peppers. I liked the circular shape but had to cut the grinder in half myself, which isn’t a big deal. Peppers and lack of size are the only factors holding this grinder back from a coveted "A" rating.

, 358 Main Street. Price, $5.86. Grade: A

This is a top-notch grinder, that’s what this is. Steak is perfect. Onions and peppers are aplenty. I like the circular roll which comes cut, unlike K. LaMay’s.  Also the roll wasn’t toasted, which I like. Nice and greasy — should lead to some afternoon gas, which is a good thing. They even offered to walk it over to me but I said, "no thanks," — big guy’s gotta stretch his legs. For an extra $1.55, you can get a side of fries, which brings the total to $7.50. I highly recommend doing that. If I had one qualm, I would say it could be a touch bigger, but if you add on the fries, you’re good.

Tom Kabara is a pet groomer in Middletown and a steak and cheese enthusiast but more importantly — a great listener.

What do you think of the results? Middletown Patch encourages you to click on the restaurant name above and click "rate this business" and give it the number of stars you think it warrants.

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Harry Nietz May 23, 2012 at 12:51 PM
I am absolutely blown away by the amount of meat knowlege this man possesses. Truly an inspiration. I will continue to dedicate my life to the meat studies in hope of one day being able to hold a conversation with this American Patriot. God bless you Tom Kabara.
Harry Nietz May 23, 2012 at 12:55 PM
Hooray for meat!!!!
Doug Johnson May 23, 2012 at 03:12 PM
Wow, What a great article. Mr. Kabara seems to take pleasure in judging the size and girth of meat. He also takes takes really good pictures of meat. I would like him to groom my pet.
Darrell Lucas May 24, 2012 at 04:18 AM
If there is one thing I learned is that he likes his meat large and greasy.
Harry P. Ness May 25, 2012 at 04:40 PM
I see you are a groomer. I have a hog that needs to cleaned. Then maybe we can go out for some cheese steaks after.

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