The new concept from the Taylor Gourmet team, Taylor Charles Steak & Ice, is opening its doors on H Street NE on Wednesday, December 12 (yes, on 12/12/12). The restaurant's mission is to make authentic Philadelphia cheesesteaks, and will operate from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. on weekdays and until 3:30 a.m. on weekends, with delivery coming soon. Closest Metro is Union Station.
The menu includes traditional and specialty cheesesteaks, plus some other options like the Yip Yip, a "sexy" Sloppy Joe and the Truth, a grilled eggplant sandwich with spinach and roasted red peppers. Two "Balls" options are available - fried cheese fritters or zucchini fritters, served with either dijon horseradish sauce or lemon aioli respectively. Water ice flavors will rotate, but they'll always have lemon, and other desserts include custard, gelati and ice cream sandwiches.
December 2012: Keith and I were lucky to be invited to a preview before the official opening date, and got to see the staff in action cooking up cheesesteaks for the crowd to sample. Here is a glimpse as to what you can expect.
First up, we sample the Broccoli Rabe, a rib-eye cheesesteak with grilled onions, provolone, and broccoli rabe. Keith thought it was a nice change of pace from the standard cheesesteak. The meat was high quality and the broccoli rabe added a nice bitterness that was not overpowering.
Next, the Buffalo - a chicken cheesesteak with Frank's RedHot Sauce and Mazza's Blue Cheese dressing. The blue cheese was oozing all over the nice perfectly chewy bread. I asked Dave Mazza to explain more about the bread and he stated they found a new awesome supplier who basically studied a recipe and "backwards engineered it" to create their bread. And he let me in on a secret - it has nothing to do with the water!
Then Keith spotted a foot long hotdog on the same bread roll and exclaimed: "Is that their hotdog!?!" Indeed, the Steak & Ice Dog is a half-pound all beef hotdog, split in half and then grilled topped with grilled onions, green bell peppers and provolone. Keith thought the splitting of the hotdog gave a delicious SPAM-like quality to the sandwich.
I look forward to coming back to Steak & Ice in a little while for a full review, after they get their groove on and have a steady flow going. I really want to try the fritter "balls" and a water ice. Now I just need to decide if I will order my own customized cheesesteak "wit" or "wit out". Until then, I have no doubt that Dave and Casey's Philadelphia hoagie - and now cheesesteak - empire will continue to grow and expand in the DC area. Congrats to the Taylor team!
January 2013: Steak & Ice has been open and rocking for over a month now, so Keith and I made our return for lunch. It was not that crowded and both Dave and Casey were in today - it looked as if they were having a business meeting of some sort. I ordered the chicken cheesesteak "wit out" - meaning no onions - and added provolone cheese and mushrooms. I also really wanted to try the zucchini fritters known as Charles' Balls. Keith ordered a rib-eye cheesesteak "wit" and hoagie style - meaning with lettuce, tomato, and mayo - plus provolone cheese. He got a side of the cheese fritters known as Taylor's Balls. We paid and were given a buzzer, so grabbed a seat and waited. I noticed other patrons who came in after us, received their sandwiches already. Since our buzzer hadn't gone off, Keith got up to walk to the counter and as he did they called out his name. So I guess the buzzer was not needed - strange.
Our sandwiches were large and packed with plenty of meat and goodies. Next time, I might opt for "wit" onions to add some extra flavor or even try the hoagie style. The zucchini fritters were flavorful and had a nice soft texture inside. The lemon aioli was bright albeit a tad watery. Keith devoured his sandwich, as it is no surprise he is a big fan of the Philly staple. The cheese balls were a little heavy and the mustard sauce was more sweet, lacking any horseradish kick. Overall, the highlight remains the bread and the generous portion of meat. (Moreover, it must be noted that I took half of my sandwich home and reheated it the next day. The bread remained soggy-free and was still soft and chewy on the inside with nice light crunch on the outside. Keith noted this is a high testimony to the superior bread used by the Taylor team, and I totally agree.) I appreciate the customizable options and other non-cheesesteak items available on the menu for those looking for something different. It was too cold today to get any water ice or gelati, so I look forward to returning in the warmer months to indulge in the "Ice" part of Steak & Ice.
Total Rating: 3.75
Food: 4, Price: 3, Service: 3, Ambience: 4, Accessibility: 5
What I ate:
Chicken "Wit Out"
with provolone and mushrooms
zucchini fritters served with lemon aioli
Plus Keith ate:
Rib-Eye "Wit" Hoagie Style
cheese fritters served with dijon horseradish sauce