I’ll admit, I’m not a fan of Taylor Gourmet. I know some of my DC folks just scrunched up their faces in disbelief. The sandwich chain is extremely popular here; however, the toughness of the bread has always managed to be a deal breaker for me.
With that said, I was a little iffy about their latest venture, Taylor Charles Steak & Ice. I’m not a beef/steak lover but a good steak and cheese will bring me to my knees! My favorite local spot is a bustling counter(I can’t remember the name) inside of the Lexington Market in the Baltimore Harbor. I was eager to see how Taylor’s take would compare.
Located at 1320 H St, the somwhat small Steak & Ice definitely reminds me of one time I actually visited a steak and cheese shop in Philly.
The menu, as well as the 10 commandments of ordering (#1 remain calm & stay focused. #2 There is only one kind of bread. Get over it.), great you as soon as you walk in the door.
I’ll admit that I was a little confused as to what I should order due to the somewhat, in my opinion, massive menu. There are regular cheesesteaks that can be made with beef rib-eye, chicken breasts or portobello for $7.90; as well as specialty options which will cost you a $1 more and include options such as green chilli, broccoli rabe and pizza.
There are extras you can add for an additional fee, which makes sense. But then there are also salads, hot dogs, not-cheesesteak sandwich options, 5 different fry options, sides and I still haven’t gotten to dessert. The “ice” in the title refers to Philly-style water ice, I’m sure many of you all are familiar with the beloved Rita’s. And there is also custard, gelati and ice cream sandwiches. Do you see why my head started to hurt just looking at everything on the menu? That alone could take you 10 minutes unless you purely came for the cheesesteak like I did.
In addition to the classsic rib-eye cheesesteak with onion and cheese wiz, I decided to try the Taylor’s Balls – cheese fritters served with a horseradish dipping sauce.
The Taylor’s Balls were nomalicious, as I already expected they would be. If you can’t get fried cheese right? Well, there’s a special place in hell for those folks lol. The were hot and gooey and the horseradish dipping sauce was a great compliment.
The cheesesteak. It was good… The bread was soft, yet firm enough to keep me from ending up with a lap full of steak and cheese. However, the cheese wiz added a touch too much saltiness. The whole time I was eating the sandwich, I was saying ‘not bad’ in my head; there was a comfort in the familiar taste I was experiencing.
I had my sister try the sandwich and she also picked up on the saltiness and another factor that would nearly ruin the whole experience for me: “This tastes just like steak-umms.” What a sinking feeling. That was the familiarity that I tasted. Steak-umms.
On a scale of 1-5, Taylor’s Balls get a 4.5 and the cheesesteak gets a 2.5. I can’t honestly give a cheesesteak that tastes just like one you can find in the freezer section of your grocery store, a higher score than that. Maybe next time, I’ll go for one of the more adventurous, non-traditional offerings.
My favorite part of Steak & Ice would be the visual ode to the Philly streets.
There’s a pothole embedded in the floor by the condiment/soda station and recycled lamp posts that jut out over the quaint seating area. But it’s the graffiti murals, done by Brandon Hill and Edwin ‘Che’ Merino, which decorate the walls and ceiling that truly bring Philly home.