Cheesesteak Quest: Natural Fact Deli

by

comment

www.channel4.com

We need an official ruling.
  • We need an official ruling.

We need an official ruling.

Technically, I should disqualify Natural Fact Deli (20 Allen Avenue) from Cheesesteak Quest. The Philly cheesesteak on the Webster Groves restaurant's menu isn't a Philly cheesesteak.

I hesitate for two reasons. First, Natural Fact Deli's cheesesteak was highly recommended to me by a reader who had recently undertaken his own cheesesteak quest and clearly knows his cheesesteaks. Second, it's a pretty awesome sandwich.

If you've never visited Natural Fact Deli, imagine the food co-op in your college's student union, but with much better food -- mostly sandwiches and wraps. Prices are reasonable, too. My cheesesteak was $5.99, which includes a side of the restaurant's excellent homemade sweet-potato chips.

The menu clearly states "Philly" cheesesteak, but even before I tasted mine, I knew it wasn't exactly what I was seeking. Rather than sitting open on the plate, its meat, cheese, etc., etc., spilling out, it was arranged in orderly fashion: hoagie top; meat, cheese, onions and peppers; hoagie bottom.

The meat had been sliced too thick -- closer to fajita-size -- and there wasn't that much of it. The cheese was jack cheese. (Perish the thought!) But none of this mattered once I took a bite. The hoagie was fantastic: wonderfully fresh, not too soft, not too firm. The steak was delicious, if a little chewy. The cheese had a satisfying piquant note.

Call it a steak-and-cheese sandwich rather than a true cheesesteak. I'll split the difference on the 0-to-5 scale:

cheez_whiz.jpg
cheez_whiz.jpg
cheez_whiz.jpg

The quest continues. Though, for the sake of my waistline and arteries, maybe after a week's break.

Update: I suppose splitting the difference on a 0-to-5 scale would be 2.5 Cheese Whizzes (Cheese Whizzi?). But this sandwich was better than that. This is why I was an English major.

-Ian Froeb

Support Local Journalism.
Join the Riverfront Times Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.

Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.

Join the Riverfront Times Club for as little as $5 a month.