December 29, 2008

Moving Day Sustenance: Patty Melt and Falafel

Note: This entry originally took place on December 20, aka moving day hell.

I love burgers, but up until December 20 I had never eaten a patty melt. Considering how often I'm disappointed or underwhelmed by hamburger buns—from my experience, a bad bun has the ability to nullify the deliciousness of a juicy, flavorful beef patty and destroy all the happiness I possess at the moment I bite into that burger, so abhorrent a bad bun is—I like the idea of a patty melt since toast is, at least, reliably tasty. Or reliably un-shitty. (Having said that, the next time I eat a patty melt it will probably come on toast that is sliced too thinly, is covered in third-degree burns, and looks like it was just the victim of a vicious fork stabbing.)

patty melt
Patty melt

The patty melt from the recently reopened Kellogg's Diner came open-faced—one side topped with a slice of American cheese and the beef patty, the other topped with another cheese single and a heap of sliced grilled onions, and the two sides bridged together by three strips of crispy bacon.

patty melt innards

Although I thought the burgerwich could have done without the bacon, an ingredient I tend to find excessive in any kind of burger (although I welcome it wrapped around hot dogs), the double cheese and onion-swaddling action nicely complemented the juicy meat patty. Not that you would expect anything else. I may not be able to prove it, but I'm almost 1000% certain that no one has ever uttered, "Oh, there's some gooey cheese and strands of sweet onion stuck to this chunk of medium rare ground beef—woe is me."

The bread seemed to be of the "white" variety and while it exhibited nice browning coverage, the potential crispiness of such brown areas was negated by the bread possibly having been soaked in a tub of fat and thus having a slightly wet, squishy texture. It wasn't a sponge or anything, but just a smidgen more fat-soaked than I would've preferred. Of course, it was delicious—hello, I did say "fat soaked bread"—but at the expense of relinquishing the crispy texture it should have had. I would've solved this dilemma of the missing crunch factory by adding potato chips as a topping, if I had had any potato chips on me. (I generally stick potato chips in any sandwich I'm eating when the rare opportunity arises. Surprisingly, I have yet to make myself a potato chip sandwich.)

tuna melt
Tuna melt

Ken ordered a tuna melt because he is incapable of ordering anything else. If a tuna melt is on a menu, he's getting it. (This will make ordering easy-peasy when he eventually eats at Shopsin's.) And his love for the combination of tuna salad, cheese, and sometimes tomato is so strong that it knocks out that part of his brain that says, "If you want to retain good gastrointestinal health, you probably shouldn't eat all that," causing him to devour everything on his plate, which is usually two servings, but can go up to five servings depending on what Jersey diner you're eating at. And then he feels fat and gross. And then I feel a bit guilty because he probably wouldn't be eating so many tuna melts if it weren't for me and my tendency to eat out 10 times a week. But Ken is about as fat as a leaf of baby spinach, so I think he'll be okay for a while.

The tuna melt appeared to be acceptable. Except that the tuna salad contained celery and was not topped with slices of tomato. :( These are apparently no-nos to a transcendental tuna melt experience.

Both the patty melt and tuna melt came with fries and a single onion ring. The ring made for a nice bonus food prize, unless it was a mistake.

Children's menu

I almost wish I could pass as 12 or younger so I could order from the children's menu. If only I could borrow someone's kid. ...Yes. I'd get the Bear—chicken fingers with french fries—and while I could just order chicken fingers and french fries on the menu, it wouldn't be the same. I couldn't say, "Yeah man, I defied the laws of age-appropriate foods and ordered this from the kid's menu," but just, "Yeah, I got this from the appetizers and side orders sections. Something about that sounds pathetic."

Jaysus, look at that neon.

Before the renovation, Kellogg's looked like a sketchy diner you would only enter after a night of heavy drinking, and even then it'd only be because you were on the cusp of starvation. Now it looks shiny and bright inside and out, and welcoming to a sober crowd. Too bad I don't live in the neighborhood anymore or else I might go more often.

Oatmeal shake? Bring it on.

I randomly picked up a 99 cent can of SolMaya Avena oatmeal shake from the Fine Fare supermarket off of the Hewes Street J/M station for a pre-moving snack. It was refreshing: smooth, milky, cinnamony, and sweet with a slight oatmealy flavor. Its texture wasn't particularly thick except for the final dregs. Oatmeal-obsessed Erin wrote a much better love letter to this drink at Serious Eats.

Sabich pita sandwich from Taim

After helping me move the contents of my South Williamsburg apartment to the new digs in Bed-Stuy and mop the apartment, I brought Ken to Taim, my favorite falafel joint. Yet I didn't get a falafel, but the sabich pita sandwich, a fresh, pillowy soft pita stuffed with fried eggplant slices that melt in your mouth, a sliced hard boiled egg, creamy hummus, Israeli salad, tahini, and amba sauce (spicy mango). I don't know how it compares to the kind you'd find in Israel, but I'd recommend it to anyone who likes tasty things perfectly stuffed in bread. However, if I could do a mash-up between Taim's pita stuffed with burninatingly spicy Sichuan-style eggplant, I'd be really happy. (Given the means, I'd sandwich-ify many Chinese foods. Oh, I would sandwich-ify so hard.)

Ken approved of the falafel (as have I about a million times already), although was less enthralled by the tiny, "you will inevitably get elbowed by another customer" space. You definitely do not visit Taim for the coziness factor, but the food is delicious enough that the lack of breathing room is worth enduring. At least during the the warmer months you can sit on the benches outside.

Many thanks to Ken for sticking with me for all of moving day hell. His reward was a very well-padded stomach. And maybe some indigestion.


Americana Diner, or 'I Think I'm In Jersey'
Kåre Week, Day 1: Falafels at Taim


Kellogg's Diner
514 Metropolitan Ave
Brooklyn, NY 11211

Fine Fare
Multiple locations, although the one I went to was at 385 Broadway, Brooklyn. I'd assume you can get SolMaya beverages wherever Latin American products are sold.

222 Waverly Pl
New York, NY 10014

Posted by roboppy at 11:55 PM

Tags: Brooklyn, diners, falafel, Kellogg's Diner, Ken, Taim, West Village, Williamsburg


> Given the means, I'd sandwich-ify many Chinese foods.

I present to you the St. Paul sandwich!

Posted by: Ken at December 30, 2008 3:04 AM [#]

I am a first time poster..lurker for longer than I feel comfortable admitting.
The Patty Melt review was something I had to comment on. To me a patty melt is one of the ultimate sandwich. It is on the "culinary orgasm" list in my mind. I love the way the juices from the burger mix with the onion grease into a delicious "sauce" of love and calories. That being said, I have never had one on white bread. Here in NJ all diners (I have been to) serve them on rye, with the fried onions and usually swiss cheese..and never have I seen bacon on one. Not that I mind, bacon is a magical meat.
Well that is my 2 slices of cheese to the conversation. Keep up the brilliant posts.

Posted by: Cheri at December 30, 2008 3:08 AM [#]

I too am always insistent that my Oatmeal shakes come with added Calcium. :D

What's the name of that place that does Burgers on white bread using a really old toaster-mangle thing?

I think Anthony Bourdain went there once.
It didn't have neon though, so it loses by default.

Posted by: Graeme at December 30, 2008 6:55 AM [#]

That's a pretty swish looking diner, but somehow I find ordering a "dog" or a "monkey" sort of disturbing...
The pita sandwich sounds pretty awesome, mmm melty aubergine. No innards?

Posted by: SuperChomp at December 30, 2008 7:33 AM [#]


Cheri: I'm glad you finally felt compelled to comment! :) I will have to get a patty melt from a Jersey diner and see how those are. I suppose I could've asked for it on rye without bacon if I knew it would come out...not like that, heh. I WANT THE ULTIMATE PATTY MELLLLT.

Graeme: Louis' Lunch! Methinks. I love those toasters. If I had to toast craploads of bread at once, I'd want one.

SuperChomp: Kids will only things named after animals, apparently.

I was too busy eating to take an innards! ;) It happens sometiiimes.

Posted by: roboppy at December 30, 2008 9:03 AM [#]

Perhaps I'm too old (I am) or I'm delusional (could be) but isnt that a tomato slice in the picture of the tuna melt? or was it photo-shopped in for color? In any event, makes me hungry for one (including celery)

Posted by: diane at December 30, 2008 11:50 AM [#]

whoaz. with all that shiny diner and gas station, that block o'williamsburg is just starting to look like.... NJ. which way to the mall??

Posted by: janet at December 30, 2008 1:54 PM [#]

Holy crap!!! I used to live a block away from Kellogg's and I haven't been back since, I CAN'T believe what they've done to it!!! I would brave the sketchiness to get a burger there (perfect when topped with fries before consuming) after a night of drinking, or an afternoon lounging around the apartment wanting a hamburger. It's always been delicious and I never understood why people were so averse to it. At least now it looks cool so more people will go in, and it does look like a more appealing haven to be deposited in front of at the Lorimer stop. Aaaah, I miss williamsburg. :(

Posted by: Amber Brinnier at December 30, 2008 3:25 PM [#]

I like Taim as well, but since I'm more of a hummus fan, it's not my fav pita place, but I do love their homemade whole wheat pitas. Do you have any hummus places recommendations (besides the Hummus Place) :) ?

Posted by: Gar at December 30, 2008 4:19 PM [#]

Diane: Oh yes, that is a tomato! You are not crazy. But I should've mentioned that the tomato is supposed to go between the tuna and the cheese, so it's covered in a blanket of cheesy goo! :)

Janet: There are too many hipsters for it to feel like NJ. HIPSTERS, KEEPIN IT REAL!

Amber: Oops, I should probably try a burger there. Another time! Down Keap Street there are new apartment buildings and whatnot going up, so everything feels..newer.

Gar: I'm afraid I don't know where to go for good hummus! I like the stuff, but don't actively seek it. I've only been to the Hummus Place once...after I ate a huge bowl of it I was like "uungghuhoh god hummus coma." ;)

Posted by: roboppy at December 30, 2008 10:45 PM [#]

I've never heard of a patty melt with white bread. I've only ever had them on rye, and with a good caraway rye... nom nom nom!

The only sandwich I put potato chips on typically is a tuna salad, and the tuna melt as well. My "tuna casserole" recipe is a box of cheap mac & cheese, a tin of tuna, a handful of frozen peas topped with some chips for crunch when it's all done.

Posted by: SometimesKate at December 31, 2008 11:39 AM [#]

SometimesKate: Hmmm maybe they used a really..really light rye? ;_; But then that hardly counts!

OH GOD I LOVE PUTTING CHIPS ON EVERYTHING!! But it goes well in tuna salad, yesm.

Posted by: roboppy at January 1, 2009 11:45 AM [#]

Hey Robyn! You may not remember, but I met you with Tristan, the first time he visited NY- he stayed with me in Brooklyn for a minute. Now it looks like you've moved to my old Brooklyn neighborhood (we lived on Hancock)- enjoy!

Oh, and the patty melt at Waffle House is not to be missed, if you ever find your way down south.

Posted by: wordsandsteel at January 2, 2009 12:02 AM [#]

wordsandsteel: Yes I doo! (For anyone else, related blog entry is here). I WOULD LOVE TO GO TO THE WAFFLE HOUSE, although I don't see myself being in the south anytime soon..booo...

Posted by: roboppy at January 2, 2009 11:30 PM [#]

I've been there twice this week and while I've had many falafels in my life, Taim's falafels are in their own stratosphere. If I had a list of perfect sandwiches, this falafel would definitely be on it along with Sullivan Street Bakery sandwiches and the banh mi from Saigon Vietnamese Sandwich shop on Broome and Mott St.

I'm totally going to try the Sabich. Love that sliced egg!

Posted by: mansae at January 22, 2009 10:14 PM [#]

mansae: I haven't had the banh mi from Saigon Vietnamese Sandwich shop, I think....will have to keep that in mind!

Posted by: roboppy at January 24, 2009 1:03 AM [#]

I disagree I purchased a case once for my factory worker. I figured it was a nice gift for them. Sure enough just about all of them said Solmaya brand was disgusting and some thought i was cruel for having them drink Solmaya brand oatmeal. I told them all that i was soo sorry and i gave them a raise. I felt so bad. I drank some of it just to see why they didn't like it.. I nearly gagged from it.. solmaya is gross..

Posted by: Rob at February 28, 2009 5:03 PM [#]

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