The Mile High Double Decker Sandwich and Why It Made Me Smile
Look at the prices!
The Club Sandwich...40 Years Later
I love food! I love everything about it. I love planning meals. I love shopping for food. I love preparing meals to serve to the people I care about. I love going to restaurants and enjoying, not only the food, (the main reason for going in the first place) but the camaraderie of being around other people who appreciate good food. Instead of the latest Danielle Steele novel,I read cookbooks.
I love open air markets. The kind that were so popular long ago and seem to be enjoying a new life lately. I love being able to smell the fruit and touch the vegetables. I love walking around the markets with other people, sensing on some level, that theyre feeling the same way I am about being there.
Food has a way of taking us back to a different time. We all know what it feels like to remember and then be lucky enough to re-create, Mom's apple pie or her Thanksgiving stuffing. We are connected across our demographics by the mystique that is food.
We have our own specific cultures which lend themselves to specialty foods which we probably grew up eating. And we all have our favorites that beckon and call to us to either prepare ourselves or find a restaurant which serves that favorite.
Just such a favorite came back to me this past week.
Way back in the early 70s, when fast food wasnt the "go to" lunch place for working girls, I found a deli in my hometown of Cincinnati. By no means was this a grand scale restaurant and some people might have even referred to it as a "hole in the wall" type place. Ive never stood on ceremony when it comes to good food. If I like the food and the place is reasonably clean, Im in. This was the case with the Red Fox Grill. I have no recollection of how much the menu items cost back then. But I well remember their club sandwiches.
These things were a true work of art. I mean, how difficult, really, is it to make a good club sandwich? Its pretty basic stuff, all combined and held together by mayonnaise and piled onto bread. But believe me when I tell you, Ive had some pretty pathetic club sandwiches in my life. Some dont even deserve the name of "club sandwich". So to have found a place where the club sandwich was truly a masterpiece, to me, was sheer nirvana.
Im a pretty basic person. I like almost all foods. Im not very picky and I like trying new things. But I always seem to revert back to my favorite deli food which is ultimately a club sandwich. Ill eat a hamburger and I love a good steak and yep, I like gourmet foods as well. But I have always leaned toward ordering a club sandwich when Im looking for something to satisfy the crunch, taste and fill factors or just a quick lunch when Im busy and have had my fill of the "burger go round" fare.
Let me digress a moment and explain why I refer to this creation as a "club sandwich" as opposed to a "double decker". Its really very simple to me. A double decker suggests a hamburger creation whereas there is no question what you mean when you mention a club sandwich. Club sandwiches pretty much differ only in the meats you choose to use and the cheese. The rest is, as they say, the "norm".
I dont know how often I frequented the Red Fox back in those days, but since I worked downtown and had access to it, Im fairly certain it was often and certainly enough that I never forgot it or those wonderful sandwiches.
Fast forward to many years later and the time in many of our lives when looking back and reminiscing is becoming more the norm than looking forward. Its been on my Bucket List to find the Red Fox Grill again (hoping it was still around) and pay a visit.
With the wonderful world of the internet at the touch of our fingertips, it wasnt hard to locate it. Its In the same place where it has been for 50 years!
I left Cincinnati in 1972 but the memory of those club sandwiches haunted me almost every, single time I ordered one in any other restaurant. Sub-standard and disappointing they often were, but then again, they had a lot to live up to.
This is a simple, no frills, type place. Words on the menu arent foreign and arent cutesy and ingredients dont require a dictionary to understand. Its classic, American diner food, IMO, at its best. Oh and they have THE best ice! Big cubes arent my thing and what passes for crushed ice, in most restaurants, is disappointing. This place still uses tiny pieces of what I call real crushed ice.
I made a pilgrimage, if you will, to the city of my birth last week and on that trip, I had lunch at the Red Fox. Imagine if you can, walking through the doors of a place you havent visited in more than 40 years and then having that sudden rush of recognition which almost smacks you in the face as memories flood your mind.
Simply put...I felt as though I had come home.
I looked at the menu and noticed that the club sandwiches were still showcased. This made me very excited because it would then seem that they were STILL the same, wonderful creations I remembered from all those years ago. This is when I began thinking about how food, a very simple commodity that we all take for granted, can cross over years and time and return you to another world and with it, put a big smile on your face.
Sometimes when we "go back" we are disappointed because human beings have a way of making the past, sometimes, better than it was. In this case, there was no disappointment. I ordered the ham and roast beef club sandwich. It arrived just as I remembered it being. Stacked high with meat and cheese and held together with mayonnaise and enclosed in perfectly toasted bread.
This is a simple creation. It doesnt take a Cordon Bleu chef to create a good club sandwich. What it does take, however, is enough good quality deli meat that you simply cannot get your entire mouth around it. And it takes the knowledge and marketing skills to know that today's consumer will keep coming back for delicious food, well done and at a reasonable price.
I ate the whole thing! I didnt think I would because it really is such a huge sandwich. But after every bite, as I thought I couldnt eat one more, I plowed back in. Its almost not worth mentioning but the coleslaw was excellent and so were the fries. Nothing about this place disappointed me and my memories of it were spot on.
The Red Fox Grill, located at 232 E 6th St in Cincinnati is someplace I highly recommend if youre like me and love a good club sandwich. I love that its been around for 50 years which means its survived economic downturns in our country and God knows what else but that its mostly survived those many years because it serves quality food, fairly priced.
If youre ever in Cincinnati or if you already live there and especially if youre a club sandwich "savant" do yourself a favor. Go and have one of these spectacular creations.
I guarantee you wont be disappointed and I guarantee you will be making your own, good memories.
History of the Club Sandwich
- Club Sandwich History, Whats Cooking America
The origin of the Club Sandwich, which is most often associated with hotels around the world, is all a matter of speculation and guesswork.