Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Buster's Cheese Steak

By now you probably have noticed that I've never reviewed a cheese steak before.  I've reviewed cheese steak shops, like Phat Philly, but, uh, I reviewed their amazing churros, their onion rings, and of course, the cheddar beer fries.  But cheese steak?  Not my thing.

Ojan however likes cheese steaks.  And after months, literally months, of him talking about wanting a cheese steak, I finally suggested it one day.  It was a beautiful day, so we took a walk to Buster's, located in North Beach.
The menu at Buster's is pretty simple: cheese steaks, burgers, and hot dogs.  There are options to add different toppings, but, for the most part, the offerings are classic.  For sides, you can get fries (topped with cheese or chili if you wish).  No frills, but, they claim to serve "no more overcooked meat from a national fast food chain loaded with preservatives" and "any way you want it ... any way you like it".

You order at the counter, and the cheese steak is made to order, ready within minutes, by the single line cook.  The only other staff member is the person working the register.

Service was rather horrible, myself and other patrons were standing there for quite some time before being acknowledged by the employee who was refilling squirt bottles and never looked our way.  It really might have been 6 or 7 minutes before she acknowledged us.  Meanwhile, the cook was a flury of activity.  I enjoyed watching him quickly assemble the cheese steaks and burgers.
The Sauces!
One real reason I selected Buster's was the sauce line up.  Yelpers all commented about how much they loved the sauce selection.  I sorta expected that implied the sauces were housemade or something, but, alas, I do not think they were.  The selection included basic ketchup, mustards, and bbq along with several different hot sauces.  None tasted like anything special, and each and every squirt bottle was horribly sticky.  I was slightly grossed out, but, this is kinda common with condiment bottles at places like this, as I noted regarding the sauces at Phat Philly and the salsas at Nick's Crispy Tacos.

But, Yelpers give the place 4 stars overall, which is certainly saying something.
Indoor Seating.
Inside is a counter along the window, and a counter along where the register is.  There are only a handful of seats, but pretty much everyone got their cheese steaks to go anyway.
Outdoor Seating.
Outside on the sidewalk were exactly two tables.  Luckily for us, one was empty when we arrived, so I had Ojan snag it while I went inside to order (and wait).
Mushroom Philly Cheese Steak, Small. $7.35.
And finally, the cheese steak.

First, we needed to select the protein: chicken or steak.  We clearly went for steak, who gets chicken?

Next, cheese.  Here the options were more numerous: Cheddar, White American, Provolone, Swiss, Pepper Jack, or Cheese Wiz.  Since this adventure was much more for Ojan, not me, I left him to make this decision, and, he went for the Wiz.  Classic.

The basic cheese steak comes with onions (for $6.85), but we upgraded to include mushrooms, since we both like them.  Other options included a strange "North Beach" version with spinach and zucchini, or the "Whole Sub California" with lettuce, tomatoes, pickles, and mayo.

The cheese steak was well wrapped in foil, and handed over moments after leaving the grill.  It was hot.  I dug in, and burnt myself immediately.  Doh.

As you can see above, it was a greasy creation.  Ojan's very first comment: "I kinda feel like I'm chewing into oil".   His ending comment: "Yeah, it was just too greasy".  I agreed.  The grease didn't seem to come from the cheese, so it clearly came from the cooking process.  It was very, very messy, as oil just dripped out from everywhere.

The bun was slightly toasted, soft enough, not notable or remarkable, except that, well, it was covered in grease.  The meat was thinly sliced, and actually seemed decent quality.  No gristle, no chunks of fat, just meat.  The onions were my favorite part, beautifully grilled.  I have a thing for grilled onions.  The mushrooms were thinly sliced, pretty generic like pizza topping mushrooms, but, I appreciated them.  Both Ojan and I agreed that it needed more onions.

And finally, the cheese.  Cheese Wiz is Cheese Wiz, so there isn't much to say about that, except, it really wasn't applied very well.  All the cheese was in a clump in the bottom, not distributed with the meat and veggies.

Sandwiches are in two sizes, "small" or "large".  I did my research, and knew that even the "small" was a full size sandwich, and since I only wanted a few bites, I knew a small would be plenty.    The $7.35 price was reasonable for the quality.  A large, which would include another segment, is $9.15, and, if you were splitting with another person and adding in some fries, would easily make for a meal for both of you.

Overall, it was fine, but not remarkable in any way, and we don't really have any reason to return.

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