I chose to approach the bacon tour of Erie a little differently than what I normally do with my reviews. I will be taking suggestions on locations as much as possible, but with limited choices, I will be choosing one food item involving bacon and sampling it from multiple locations in the area.
For this first week, I focused on BLTs. Last Friday, my coworkers, Amy Izbicki and Jenny Sholtis, helped me compare BLTs from Three B’s Saloon, The Whole Food Co-op, and The Summer House Café. With bacon being one of the B’s in Three B’s Saloon, we knew this sandwich was going to be good. It was served on buttery Texas toast with fresh mixed greens and thin slices of tomato. There were probably ten strips of bacon on the sandwich, and each one was perfectly smoky and salty. I was a little surprised the sandwich didn’t come with any kind of condiment on it. There was, instead, a side of mayonnaise to accompany it. The up side of the sandwich being served that way was that it allowed us to add as much or as little mayo as we wanted.
The next sandwich was the TLT from The Whole Foods Co-op, which is a bit of an “apples to oranges” comparison, but it received so many recommendations, I had to try it. The sandwich is made with Tempeh bacon, organic spring lettuce mix, and thick cut tomato on whole wheat bread. I did make one non-vegan substitution by opting for regular mayonnaise as opposed to the Vegenaise it is normally served with. You may be wondering what Tempeh bacon is. Tempeh is a soy product that is high in protein, fiber, and vitamins, and is therefore a favorite among many health conscious eaters. The greens and the tomato were fantastically fresh and had a ton of flavor. The only problem with using such high quality produce was that their flavor slightly overpowered the Tempeh. The sandwich also lacked the saltiness that a traditional BLT gets from pork bacon, and I did miss that extra layer of flavor. Don’t get me wrong, it really is a great sandwich, but for someone who enjoys bacon made from pork, it doesn’t quite compare to the traditional BLT that I love so much.
The final sandwich we tried on Friday was from The Summer House Café. I ordered the sandwich on sourdough bread and I was so glad I did. The bread was toasted to a perfect golden brown and gave the sandwich another crunchy texture in addition to the bacon. Speaking of which, the bacon was piled high and cooked to crispy perfection. The sweet and salty bacon sat on a bed of thin sliced tomatoes and fresh lettuce. This sandwich had just a light spread of mayonnaise, which helped keep the sandwich moist. I should also note that if you like the BLT on their lunch menu, try the breakfast option that is served with a fried egg atop the bacon; you won’t regret it.
On Monday, I split two more BLTs with my coworker, Karen Burchill. The first was from Gerry Urbaniak’s 8th Street Deli and the other came from The Plymouth Tavern. We started with the “Bacon Your Pardon” BLT from Gerry’s. I’ve reviewed Gerry’s incredible sandwiches before and this one was no exception to my previous experiences. This is a sandwich I could eat all the time and never get sick of. The bacon is sliced thick and is smoked perfectly. The fresh lettuce and tomato were great, but what really set this sandwich apart from all the others I tried was the horseradish mayonnaise (that was given on the side). The creamy texture of the spread mixed with the bite of the horseradish offset the saltiness of the bacon with the perfect amount of tang and heat. It took the sandwich to a whole new level that was totally unexpected.
The BLT from The Plymouth was good, but after the fantastic sample from Gerry’s, it seemed rather ordinary. My favorite part of the sandwich was the perfectly grilled French bread that was home to several slices of fatty, salty bacon, crisp lettuce, and thick sliced tomatoes. I found myself wanting just a little bit of mayonnaise to add some creaminess and moisture to the sandwich. It wasn’t a dry BLT, thanks to the juicy slices of tomato, but the extra level of flavor that mayonnaise provides would have been appreciated.
BLTs are a menu item that you’ll see just about anywhere you go, and Erie is no exception. I know that there are many more restaurants in the area that serve this classic sandwich, but these were the five that were recommended to me by my readers. I should mention that of the sandwiches I tried, my two favorites were from The Summer House Café and Gerry Urbaniak’s 8th Street Deli. If you like BLTs, definitely try the ones I reviewed, but sample some of the others in town as well. Thanks to Three B’s Saloon, The Whole Foods Co-op, The Summer House Café, Gerry Urbaniak’s 8th Street Deli, and The Plymouth Tavern for providing me with your best BLTs. I can’t wait to continue this tour of Erie’s best bacon dishes!
Until next time,
Andrew – Beard vs. Food