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89th And Broke

I'm a young professional living in Astoria (formerly of Williamsburg, the UES and Murray Hill - I move a lot!). I'm always looking for something fun to do or the best place to grab a drink and dinner at an affordable price around the city. Have a suggestion? Email me at Laura AT 89thandbroke DOT com.

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Cheap Eats Issue Offers Not So Memorable Cheesesteaks

Last week, we reported that Time Out New York launched it’s Cheap Eats issue.  In this particular issue, I loved that they bulleted out key restaurants in 8 neighborhoods – and Murray Hill, where I work, was one of them.  Second on the list was Carl’s Steaks, and I shared the link with my co-worker/friend/future business partner Doug, faster than you can say “cheese with.”  Ironically, a man we like to refer to in the office as “Uncle Stein” recently had seen Doug chowing down on a cheesesteak from a local deli, and encouraged him to go to Carl’s.  So needless to say, one day this week a group of us headed over to Carl’s on 34th and 3rd.

When you walk into Carl’s, I like that the restaurant answers any “how do I order” questions and spells it all out for you with their “house rules.”  They ask that you name the cheese you want and specify if you want onions when ordering.  One of the members in our group has trouble following the rules of a Subway (she ordered a veggie patty after they had put condiments on her sandwich), so I was thankful that this was present.  From a price point, it seemed fairly reasonable, $6.75 a steak, and you can order additional toppings, like sweet peppers and jalapenos for an extra 50 cents.  I went with a cheesesteak with provolone and hot peppers.

We brought the steaks back to work and all commented how nice the steaks looked all wrapped up.  Nothing leaked out on our walk back to the office.  I was eager to dig in and the first bite I thought, wow this is pretty good.   Unlike Doug’s comments below, I don’t like my cheesesteaks super greasy so I was happy that this cheesesteak wasn’t dripping in grease.  But by the second bite, I started to question – did I order a steak sandwich or a cheesesteak?  By now you know my affinity for cheese, and needless to say I was disappointed there wasn’t much provolone on this.  By bite eight, I was craving for every bite with the hot peppers just to get that added bit of flavor, because although my cheese steak wasn’t greasy, it just needed a little something to help it taste not as dry.

Overall, I’ve tried Mike’s Deli and Captain Cafe, both on 32nd, and I have to say, the cheesesteaks are cheaper and taste better.  But, I have to give Carl’s credit – unlike some of the cheesesteaks hot spots in Philly, this cheesesteak didn’t leave me in a food coma and I wasn’t out of commission all afternoon.  If I do return to Carl’s again, I’ve learned my lesson – order the extra cheese and something a little juicy on your sandwich.

Guest Post by Doug Feingold, Columbia Correspondent

When I think cheese steak, I dream of a greasy sub. In fact, that sub should be so greasy that it transforms the plate it rests on into a mirror that I can subsequently look in and view the new pimples on my face that the grease itself has created while I ate that sub. Carl’s was a good lunch, but not greasy good.

My cheese steak included provolone cheese and grilled onions. However, after a few bites that were dominated by steak, I was curious if there was even anything else in there. There was, but it was seriously lacking in quantity. As a result, the overall cheese steak was extremely dry. I felt like I was eating just a plain steak sandwich, and considered pouring some Jack Daniels sauce on there just to avoid having the authorities declare my mouth as a drought zone.

The sandwich did have some positive aspects though. The steak was a good quality – it was not too chewy and was perfectly cooked. I also enjoyed the bread since it was strong enough to hold the contents, but not too big that I had some bites that were purely bread. Overall, it was a good sandwich, but it needed more. I’m told that perhaps the lunch crowd phased the chefs, resulting in a poor quality sandwich, but this is the only time I’ve been to Carl’s, so I’ll never know. It was good enough that I’d be willing to try it again when the crowd was smaller and I’m in the area, but not so great that I’ll make definite plans to rush back anytime soon.

The Basics
Name: Carl’s Steaks
Location: 503 3rd Ave (at 34th) and 79 Chambers Street
Who to take: Co-workers, Self
Price: $.  Under 10.
Overall:  Eh. 3 Stars.

Carl's Steaks on Urbanspoon

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