Archive for June, 2013

Varsity2Baseball Road Trip Day One – May 2013

Checking in to a famous eatery always gives me goose bumps, especially one in which I had seen on TV or read about online on numerous occasions. Pulling up to The Varsity, I thought we might be entering a giant mall due to the parking garage and swarms of people middling about. And the building itself seemed to take on a life of its own. All of this for some fast food? I could not open the car door fast enough.

After I wanted to get a picture of myself by the street sign, we entered a world of flavors and aromas. We also entered a scene out of the movie “Trading Places” since there were piles of people everywhere as if they were trying to buy and sell commodities. Thankfully, we were Valentine and Louis, reaping all the benefits in the end.

“What’ll ya have, what’ll ya have?!”

The workers at the registers belted this question out routinely, which made me think from watching TV there might be a special way to order (I later found the instructions on a sign in the dining area). I decided to just focus on what I wanted, because I kept thinking about how much money this trip will cost. Yet at the same time how often do I make visits to legendary eateries?

Varsity1Looking over the 1,324 lines of people waiting to order, I determined a chili cheese dog and a cheeseburger were the way to go. I will save money by getting a cup of water. Jess, meanwhile, settled with a simple cheeseburger and we would share the hand-cut fries. Upon delivery of the food at the counter, we then stumbled about, noticing tons of rooms where patrons were burying their faces in grease. I especially loved the classroom with school desks. I kind of wanted to eat in there to make it feel like I was sneaking in a snack while the teacher bored me to death, unless they were discussing geography.

We grabbed a booth instead and gorged ourselves. I honestly thought I would be strongly impacted by the taste. However, the food was simple and original. The hot dog easily defeated the cheeseburger, and I may even say the fries beat them both. The Varsity presented itself the way fast food should: items thrown together and mildly-small portions. Except for the fries as I could not get enough of them.

The experience, though, left me wanting to return. Although I do not know when that next trip might be since Atlanta appears to offer up several delicious adventures. The odds are, I will try The Vortex next.


Melt1June 2, 2013

This is the best question of all time: What would be your last meal before you hit the chair? I could spend hours diagramming my answer in a personalized chart based on what time of day I am supposed to get fried, what types of food my tummy requires and all of the side dishes I crave. The end result, though, almost always will bring me to the entrée called the Fat City Burger from Melt Bar and Grilled in the suburbs of Cleveland.

On my very first visit to this grilled cheese establishment in a few years ago, I felt like Wayne and Garth entering the dressing room for Alice Cooper. “I am not worthy!” I did not care that the wait was about two hours, as I sat I noticed every single patron carrying out a box of food. Then I discovered how many edible objects are arranged on plates.

I probably should have done some stomach exercises in preparation because I became one of those patrons.

Now I count down the days each time before I make my next visit to any one of the four locations, and my cubicle wall even has a menu hanging on it. My latest journey put me in Cleveland June 2, and it once again did not disappoint.

Each Melt defines the word “eclectic.” From Dairy Queen signs and plastic Halloween and Christmas statues, the walls bleed emotions. I personally favor all of the Cleveland Indians and Cleveland Browns memorabilia, no matter how disturbing it can be to the eyes. I just always wonder what the women’s restrooms contain because the men’s rooms’ walls are littered with awesomeness.

In-house menus are listed on the back of old vinyl albums, and it can be quite a chore to determine your order. For example:

-Westside Monte Cristo – ham, turkey, swiss, American, deep fried, dip in mixed berry preserves

-Smokey Russian – turkey, napa vodka kraut, gouda, Russian dressing

-Godfather – 3-cheese lasagna, red sauce, garlic spiked grilled bread, provolone

-Parmageddon – 2 pierogi, napa vodka kraut, grilled onions, cheddar

-Turtle Pizza Roll – pizza rolls, marinara, pesto cream cheese, provolone, romano

-Rising Sun – Asian marinated fish or seafood, ginger wasabi dressing, lettuce, tomato, muenster

-Wet Hot Buffalo Chicken – chicken breast, spicy buffalo sauce, celery and blue cheese slaw, ranch

-El Diablo Burger – 8 oz steak burger, ancho, pasilla negro and chipotle pepper rub, jalapeno, pepper-jack

That is not even close to half the selections. I have likely frequented the Melt about seven times in my life, and on all but one of these occasions I ordered the same thing: Fat City Burger. With a local adult beverage of course (and they have a massive list to choose from).

Served on thick slices of toasted bread, this monster features a healthy dose of salami, ham, bacon, Swiss and American. When it arrives in front of you, do not dive in. Take a couple of minutes to stare at this creation. Take a few pictures of it if you feel inclined to brag to your friends as well. After a sip from the beer glass, carefully consume the first bite as you do not want food particles to escape. With each chapter of this burger brings different tastes. On one bite, you not only get the burger, but maybe the cheese. The next bite could feature a good heap of ham or salami. Nibble on the hand-cut fries, oh they’re soooo good.

I’m ready for the chair.