Driving home from Pennsylvania yesterday, we weren't hungry until we hit the dry stretch, restaurant-wise, between Cleveland's western suburbs and Detroit. There's a funky little gas station with a food counter called something like Joe's near Oregon, Ohio, where I kind of wanted to eat. I had a very good fried bologna sandwich there once, when we were returning Boot to school in a snowstorm following winter break. However, it didn't sound good to Jeannene, so we just drove on until we hit Troy. We frequently end up at Maggiano's Little Italy when doing this run, but that sounded pretty heavy, given our big breakfast at Flip in Edinboro. We'd eaten at Granite City once before and the only negative we could remember was a long wait that Jeannene didn't feel was warranted by the food. I had no recall of the food at all, so when she suggested we go either there or to Bahama Breeze, I thought it'd be fun to try Granite City again, provided the wait wasn't hellishly long again.
The wait turned out to be only about 5 minutes, quite reasonable. We had fun people-watching and chatting as we waited to order. I was having a hard time choosing between a burger or a Cuban sandwich (on the off chance that it actually was a Cuban sandwich and not an imposter), so I asked the waiter if it was pressed, which can sometimes be an indicator of whether it's worth ordering. Really, though, I think I am going to just change my indicator standard to: "Am I in Florida? If yes, order the Cuban. If no, order something else." We had boneless wings with fiery buffalo sauce for an appetizer and they were really delicious. They were quite hot, but not so much as to be inedible, and they weren't greasy or overly breaded, as boneless wings often are.
When dinner came, though, I was quite disappointed with my sandwich. It was listed as being on baguette, but when it arrived, the bread was much more like challah, all browned and glossy on top, with a lofty and fluffy inside, and no crunch or chew at all. Challah is lovely for many things, including some sandwiches, but it's entirely the wrong consistency for Cuban sandwiches. There's not supposed to be anything fluffy about them. They are also not supposed to be overflowing with meat, which this was. It seems weird to complain about too much meat on a sandwich, but there was at least an inch and a half of pulled pork on that thing, completely obscuring the flavor of the rest of the sandwich. The proper ratio of everything is crucial to a good Cuban, as is using the right kind of ingredients. I don't think pulled pork works, period, for a proper Cuban. I am certain that, had I been in the mood for barbecue, I would have loved the pork with some good sauce. As it was, it was so overwhelmingly porky that it was actually kind of gross. As soon as the plate arrived, I knew by the smell of it that I didn't want to eat it. I promptly pulled it all off the sandwich, taking most of the cheese, necessarily, with it. I was thoroughly underwhelmed by the rest of the sandwich, as the thick, fluffy bread overwhelmed any flavor the remaining ham, pickles (way too fancy, by the way, these pickles---they would benefit greatly from using plain old Vlasic hamburger chips), and mustard might have had, which didn't seem to be much. It was one of the blandest things I've eaten in a very long time. Of course, I know I'm not going to get a Miami-style Cuban up here, but I at least expected it to be good for what it was. For a look at what a proper Cuban sandwich should be, check out this piece on the making of a Cuban at Versailles, in Miami.
Jeannene, on the other hand, really liked her sandwich, the BTA, multigrain bread holding bacon, tomato, avocado, Havarti, and Cheddar, all grilled. The fries were completely pedestrian. The waiter heartily recommended them over the kettle chips and they were, I am fairly certain, billed as "hand-cut," but they were basically Wendy's fries. No flavor or texture to them, really. I ate 3 or 4 and called it quits.
In an attempt to make up for the dissatisfaction of dinner, I wanted dessert. The chocolate chip cookie in a skillet was tasty, but I am always comparing those to the one we had years ago at Forge in the Forest in Carmel, and they tend to fall short. This one was thin and broad, with a kind of hippie granola vibe. It was the kind of cookie that's very good warm with ice cream, but practically inedible once it has cooled. So, what we didn't eat, we cheerfully left behind.