Last week, we reported that Time Out New York launched it’s Cheap Eats issue. Â 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. Â 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.” Â 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. Â 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.” Â They ask that you name the cheese you want and specify if you want onions when ordering. Â 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. Â 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. Â 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. Â Nothing leaked out on our walk back to the office. Â I was eager to dig in and the first bite I thought, wow this is pretty good. Â 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. Â But by the second bite, I started to question – did I order a steak sandwich or a cheesesteak? Â By now you know my affinity for cheese, and needless to say I was disappointed there wasn’t much provolone on this. Â 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. Â 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. Â 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. Carlâ€™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 â€“ 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. Iâ€™m told that perhaps the lunch crowd phased the chefs, resulting in a poor quality sandwich, but this is the only time Iâ€™ve been to Carlâ€™s, so Iâ€™ll never know. It was good enough that Iâ€™d be willing to try it again when the crowd was smaller and Iâ€™m in the area, but not so great that Iâ€™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: $. Â Under 10. Overall: Â Eh. 3 Stars.