Friday, December 19, 2008

Roasted Vegetable - Donna's

Sandwich Contents: Ciabatta roll with roasted veggies (red peppers, onions, eggplant, and portobellos) and smoked mozzarella with a side of fried sweet potatoes.

Kate's Review: We realized the other day that we were picking all of what we consider to be the most tempting sandwiches of the group and saving the questionable ones to the end. Probably not the best idea, but we decided to stick with our methodology at least one more sandwich day. So we headed up the street to Donna’s for the Roasted Vegetable sandwich. As we are walking in the door I mentioned that we should probably call ahead the next time to ensure that the sandwich is still on the menu or in season. Of course once we were handed the menu neither of us could find it. After a brief moment of panic we described the sandwich to the manager and they did indeed have it just under a different name which escapes my Friday fried brain. Per the usual Nicole and I split the sandwich with a side of sweet potato fries. I was positive I would like it but how much was the true test. You can’t go wrong with Ciabatta and this was crisp to perfection….not too hard but not super chewy. It had a little grease to it but what do you expect when you have the perfect amount of melted mozzarella over roasted veggies. Although eggplant can upset my stomach I was all for it; a very small price to pay for good food. I give it 4 baguettes and hope to try other items since everyones plates looked scrumptious.

Nicole's Review: Donna's was a very crowded the day Kate and I went and we ended up sitting at the bar so we didn't have to wait for a table. Although I do like Donna's, I was a little leary of this sandwich. I'm not much of a fan of portobellos or eggplant and they pretty much make up the sandwich. I was however, pleasantly surprised to find that for the most part, I enjoyed this sandwich. There were a couple moments where I had more eggplant and/or portobello in my mouth than other ingredients and could get more of the taste, but I handled it well. The seasoning of the veggies was good, the cheese can never really be bad and the bread was perfect. Honestly, we haven't had bread that good yet. Oh yeah, the sweet potato fries were great. The aoili they served wasn't very flavorful, but with sweet potatoes, you really don't need to dip them in anything.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Bistro Beef - Miss Shirley's

Sandwich Contents - Beef is grilled to order, topped with blue cheese, tomatoes, mixed greens, and roasted vegetables, like peppadews and Vidalia onions, then piled on ciabatta bread. Served with Miss Shirley's signature dipping salsa and either seasonal fruit or a mixed green salad.

Kate's Review - Finally, I get to try Miss Shirley’s Café. I’ve heard so many good reviews about their brunch but not much talk about their sandwiches so I was eager to try it myself. We were originally thinking of picking something lite since this trip was on the heals of Thanksgiving, but why wait for something that sounds so delish. I have to say I’m addicted to good bread especially ciabatta so I didn’t think it would take much to impress me on this one and impress it did. I loved the combination of the tomatoes and roasted peppers especially when the melted blue cheese mixed with the horseradish made its way into the bite. The steak was cooked medium per our order and was perfect. The sandwich was complimented with a special order of sweet potatoes fries which I definitely recommend to round out the meal. Tamara joined us again and ordered another sandwich on the menu, which impressed me just as much. From my experience I don’t think you can go wrong with anything on their menu. I rate this sandwich with 4 Banquettes; well 4 ½ but we don’t do halfs!

Nicole's Review - I have been wanting to go to Miss Shirley's for a couple years now. I hear their breakfast is great, but I also hear its a hard seat to get and with a 1 year old, waiting for a table isn't something I want to do. Finally, I had the opportunity to visit and I wasn't disappointed in the least bit. The sandwich was delicious. The amount of blue cheese on the sandwich was perfect. Just enough to get that great taste, but not too much to overwhelm. The bread was amazing. In addition to the sandwich, we split an order of the sweet potato fries. Wow. I'm a recent fan of sweet potatoes (thanks to making sweet potato baby food) and although I haven't had too many variations of the sweet potato fry, I honestly think none will ever beat these. They were so yummy. The citrus aioli made them even better. I have nothing bad or even the least bit negative to say about the sandwich, much less the whole place. This was one of the best so far.

A big thanks to Dave, Kate's hairdresser for sponsoring this sandwich!

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Roma - Ceriello Fine Italian Foods

Sandwich Contents: Rustic ciabatta bread with layers of finely sliced prosciutto, mozzarella cheese and tomato, drizzled with a splash of olive oil, and punctuated with the slight tang of basil. Grilled, panini-style or eaten cold.

Kate's Review: Originally postponed due to a work meeting we were able to squeeze it in after a late cancellation. The Roma was one of my top picks from the list so I was super excited to experience it myself and I basically LOVE anything Italian so how could I go wrong. The sandwich is served cold or panini style so of course we had to try both. The cold one was good but the Panini version was scrumptious. The grilling intensified the cheese and prosciutto and who doesn’t like melted mozzarella. I would have liked more basil with each bite and I did add balsamic to spice it up but I still enjoyed it and downed the whole thing. Oh, and the bonus was being introduced to the Belvedere "market". Can’t wait to hit up all the other places. Special thanks to Karen for sponsoring this week and joining in on the judging. I rate this sandwich as a 4 baguetter.

Nicole's Review: This was one of the ones I was looking most forward to having on the list. Everything on this sandwich is a favorite and the combo of it all makes it even better. We tried it both ways, panini style and cold. I can't decide which was my favorite. I will say that I was pleasantly surprised with the panini style. My only history with the panini is a sandwich from Panera Bread and a couple of those Lean Cuisine paninis so I didn't have very high hopes for it. My only complaint would be that the basil was concentrated in one location on the sandwich. I would have liked it to have been chopped and sprinkled over the sandwich. Other than that, no complaints!

A big thanks to Karen who sponsored the Roma. Unfortunatly Karen wasn't able to make it to lunch with us because of a work obligation, but she was able to enjoy the Roma we brought back to the office for her!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

McMechen - On the Hill Cafe & Market

Sandwich Contents: The wrap folds up a careful balance of curried chicken salad, pecans, red grapes, greens and mango chutney.

Kate's Review
Since the bar was set so high with the Croque Monsieur it was going to take a lot to impress us. When we arrived at the café all the two tops were taken which caused us to get flustered while ordering. Thankfully someone left and we were able to squeeze three of us in so we didn’t have to take it to go. Our friend Tamara was a guest taste tester for this trip although she opted for the quiche instead. While the McMechen was a good sandwich I wasn’t won over. I only found one grape and the pecans were too finely chopped that I didn’t really taste them which is what made it appeal to me in the first place. I probably won’t eat it again and if I happen to visit On the Hill Café again I’ll opt for one of the other sandwiches. I rate the McMechen as a three banquette sandwich.

Nicole's Review
Located close to the MICA campus, this tiny restaurant was filled with students with exotic piercings and quite honestly, made me feel very un-hip. The place was very crowded and I instantly became a bit anxious about where we would sit. After causing somewhat of a small scene, we were able to secure a small table and a third chair for our guest, Tamara. The sandwich arrived and looked very good. And it was good, just not great. One of things I was most excited about was that there were grapes in the curried chicken salad, however I think I only got a half of a grape in my half of the sandwich. There was also mango chutney on the sandwich, but it was lopped on and really should have been spread evenly over the wrap so that each bite provided a taste of it. Overall the sandwich was good, but it wasn’t a sandwich I’d seek out. In fact, if I went back there, I probably would try something else.

A big thanks to Norwin who sponsored the McMechen. To thank Norwin for his sandwich sponsorship, we are posting a picture of his adorable kids, Noah & Asha in their Halloween costumes.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Croque Monsieur - Petit Louis Bistro

We chose the Croque Monsieur as our first sandwich because Kate has fond memories of them from her time spent in France and Nicole has had a recipe in her cook book for years for one and still has never tried one. Here is a picture of the sandwich (we forgot to take a picture when it first arrived, so apologies for the half eaten version).

Sandwich Contents: This ham-and-cheese sandwich is a staple in French cuisine and rightfully so with its melted slices of Madrange ham and Gruyère cheese, sure to satisfy any palate. Thick slices of brioche bread are dipped into egg before grilling, resulting in melted ham and cheese squished between two heavenly slices of French toast.

Kate's Review
With growing anticipation from our growling stomachs Nicole and I couldn’t wait too much past 12 to hit up our first stop on the Baltimore Sandwich Challenge Tour. Our plan was to grab a seat at the bar and split the sandwich. That quickly changed when we stepped into Petit Louis and realized they don’t have seating at the bar so on to plan B. We were a little nervous to see the response from the server when we ordered one $10 sandwich for the two of us to split so we decided to add a bowl of the butternut squash soup. The Croque Monsieur was DELICIOUS!!!! Imagine grilled cheese with french toast and ham for an added bonus, oh and a side of real “French” fries….so Yummy. And good thing we guilted ourselves into the soup because it was one of the best I have ever had. I’m sure the heavy cream didn’t hurt matters besides my waistline. I would recommend this to everyone especially on a perfect fall day like today. We walked out with bellies full and two very happy ladies. I definitely see many more Croque Monsieurs in my future.

Nicole's Review
Delicious. I did not expect it to be as good as it was. We felt a little silly ordering one sandwich and splitting it, given how nice the restaurant was, so we took the suggestion of Jana and ordered a bowl of soup. What a good decision. I know we are supposed to be writing about the sandwich, but the Butternut Squash soup was phenomenal. Anyway, back to the sandwich. It was great. The bread wasn't soggy, but it was definitely eggy. The perfect amount of ham and cheese. Oh and the fries? That were perfect too. For $10 for the sandwich and fries, its definitely worth it. Especially if your budget doesn't allow for a 3 course meal at Petit Louis!