“We all live in a…” – The Beatles

When I asked my friend (and San Francisco host for the week) where to get a sandwich, he claimed without hesitation that ‘Yellow Submarine,’ in the Inner Sunset, was not only the best sub he’d had in San Francisco, but the best sub he’d ever had period.

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His only other sub-par recommendation came on Art’s Cafe, but since I knew that this was based on his being partial to a good value and that he held on to the same desperate hope as I did that we may finally have found a Yankee Doodle competitor, I gave him the benefit of the doubt.

By about 11:00am, I had to decide whether to go for breakfast or lunch on my last full day of exploring SF, and given that I really only wanted out of breakfast was steak and eggs, I figured I could go without the eggs.

That decision made my sandwich choice for me, steak and cheese; however, I still liked their very limited menu(only basic sandwiches). Interestingly, for the latter portion of my time spent living in Philadelphia, I gave up the “cheese,” part of the Philly-famous cheesesteaks. However, whenever I would find myself at one of the two classics in the city of Brotherly Love (Pats or Geno’s) or my favorite, Jims on South Street (usually when hosting friends or family), I’d still grab a plain steak. However, I’ve recently gone back to adding some provolone back into my sandwich topping arsenal. Therefore, at the Yellow Submarine, I ordered what would be known as “One provolone wit’ “(meaning a steak and provolone sandwich topped with onions) back east.

After applying a healthy dose of ketchup, I took my first bite and couldn’t have been happier with my friend’s recommendation or my order choice. The steak was nicely shaved (not finely chopped like they do at Jim’s, but still great), the onions well-cooked, and the bread perfectly grilled.

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My only slight improvement might be to cook the cheese a little longer. While it was warm, it didn’t quite melt to my liking. Like I said, I haven’t had a true Philly Cheesesteak in quite some time, but I’d be willing to bet that if these two were stacked up, they’d go down to the wire.

Back in Cambridge, my new favorite sub place has become Al’s (I frequent the Harvard Square location, but they’ve got a few throughout the city). When there, I mostly go for the award-winning chicken or tuna salad subs, served on Al’s unnecessarily large, but delicious, sub rolls. I’ve had a steak sub there once and it was very similar to the one from the Yellow Submarine. I’d have to call it a 50/50 toss up, perhaps with the sandwich meat and toppings going to Al’s and the bread going to YS, but all in all a great contest.

Even though the menu was limited, there were plenty of others I’d like to try and it will certainly make it on to my list for a repeat visit on my next trip back there (which will hopefully be sooner rather than later…)

 

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Meeting “Girls” and making friends in Inman Square

My best friend and current roommate, Drew and I used to meet  almost every weekend for what we liked to casually call our “hangover cure breakfast club.” You can read about some of our old favorites here (The Breakfast Club, Eagles), and others included Masa in the South End, and The Neighborhood Restaurant and Bakrey in Somerville. However, our most recent adventure, City Girl Café, at least solidified its rank in Drew’s heart (and stomach) as his new favorite and even earned his designation as “best in boston.” I’m not sure if I’d make that claim just yet, but I certainly loved the food.

As is to be expected almost anywhere in Greater Boston, there was quite a wait (around 30min), but unlike today, the weather was great, and we worked up an appetite by walking around the center of Inman Square for a bit. We went back before the expected wait time was up, as I’ve known hostesses at small restaurants like City Girl (only 19 seats) to be very quick to give up your spot in line (reminds me of a very funny joke by Gary Gulman, whom I saw recently live with, about giving up your place in line at Trader Joes- will post link shortly) if you’re not eagerly waiting and maybe even more importantly, doing so in her direct line of sight.

Besides guaranteeing our spot in line, Drew preferred our people watching (a favorite pastime of both of ours) options in the crowd of other hungry prospective brunch patrons.

The options included a very interesting-looking May-December couple that perfectly embodied the quintessential “Cambridge Look,” multi-colored scarves and all. Additionally, there was an interesting looking pair of female friends, whom we probably paid more attention to because of their cliché conversation than their looks. Within only a few minutes, we could already pick out the trend-setter and trend-follower within the group. The leader, had the typical look of a hip, Cambridge, short-haired, sexually ambiguous female (Picture Pink with black hair). Whereas the other, could have easily been a poster girl for your ivy league, J-Crew model turned hipster (turned out to be NESCAC, but close) toting her thick-rimmed black frames (which she CLAIMED to actually need for the unlikely purpose of seeing things).

Their conversation quickly transitioned from some recent film culture (the trend-setter recently saw Zero Dark Thirty (high on my to-see list) but found it “too violent,” to one of the most popular TV shows I hear discussed today, whether in line, in a restaurant or on public transportation- Lena Dunham’s Girls. (I used this trend as another answer in my BSS application. When this topic came up, I couldn’t help but laugh and point out the irony to Drew. Luckily they didn’t hear me, as within a few minutes we were seated at a 4-person table directly next to them.

I can’t remember whether it was Drew or I who struck up conversation with them first, but it certainly wasn’t one of them. I’m pretty sure he started with a simple, “have you guys been here before, and if so, what do you have to recommend?” One had and one hadn’t, but didn’t have any quality recommendations. Though, this didn’t matter, because everything on the menu looked great, and I loved my “Spinach, Roasted red pepper & fontina egg sandwich,” served with “roasted red bliss potatoes,” and a hearty side of bacon:

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The girls and Drew all had the “Goat cheese, bacon & carmelized onion egg sandwich,” also served on the same delicious French baguette and with the red bliss potatoes, and they all swore by it:

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I firmly believe that there are so few variables in a Breakfast/Brunch menu, that it is critical to nail those which tend to vary (Potatoes, breads, and meats)- and the City Girl did indeed nail all of these. I’ll admit that I was skeptical when the potatoes came out and they didn’t look as crispy as I usually like. However, they were surprisingly crisp and unbelievably seasoned. Drew’s only complaint about the whole experience may have been the translucent coffee mugs. For some reason, which I don’t quite understand, he doesn’t like seeing his coffee as he drinks it-

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Putting the tremendous food aside, the conversation that went along with it was enjoyable as well. Drew and I both tend to be fairly outgoing, and when we strike up conversations at Brunch, as oppose to over drinks in a loud and/or crowded bar, our approach tends to be less threatening and (usually) more successful. With these girls, when they brought up Girls for a second time (which I would’ve bet money they would) and we indicated that we watch it, we were in. We quickly found out that the “hipster,” had attended Brandeis College, studied abroad in some third world country, and written a blog entitled “A Broad, abroad,” (which I was shocked to discover is not unique (and moreover, there were multiple Brandeis students who had named their blog this). The other, the heavily optically adorned blonde, it turned out had gone to a certain NESCAC school in Maine, the same one in fact where the group of girls we had just spent the previous night partying with had gone. By this point in the conversation, we had all  become somewhat friendly with one other, but then realized that no one had been introduced. Before we had a chance, they blurted out, “no wait, let us guess first!” I quickly became labeled “Brad” one I had never heard before, and a name that I would more associate with a WASPier looking individual. I have a preppy looking appearance and style, but I have fairly dark hair (most likely from the half of my family which belongs to the tribe) and I mostly would picture a stereotypical Brad as a blonde, although that’s just me. Drew on the other hand became “Tanner,” though I really can’t find any explanation for that one and I don’t think they much process behind it either.

We exchanged our real names and numbers on the walk we shared back towards Central Square and Drew and I realized that our friendliness at Brunch and our interest (even if partially feigned) in Girls, earned us two potential new “friends” (though he did make me promise, to keep them as only friends for the time, as we’re seriously lacking in female friends) in Cambridge, to where we have recently relocated.