There is something triggered in my mind when the calendar turns from August to September. That moment right around Labor Day Weekend signals that it’s time to start preparing. For cool, crisp mornings; college football Saturdays; days that are a little shorter. Yes, Fall time is (almost) here. Nonetheless the hot, sticky St. Louis summer air is still lingering as I write this blog from home, and it certainly was still lingering the afternoon I ventured out for my latest sandwich review.
This edition takes us to South St. Louis’ Marine Villa neighborhood – where the streets are lined with centuries-old red brick buildings and a different park is nestled at what seems like every intersection. This historic neighborhood is the home of Cherokee Antique Row – a bustling collecting of design shops, breweries, restaurants and antique stores all along or immediately around Cherokee Street. Seeing so many small businesses packed into an area of just a few blocks was refreshing, and I couldn’t help but take a look around to see what else was tucked away behind the red brick walls that surrounded me. However, this was a business trip, so after my short walk down Cherokee it was time to get that sammie that I set out for.
Elaine’s Classic American Sandwiches is just that, but with a twist or two. Sure, you can find your classic sub sandwiches on the handwritten chalkboard menu, but Elaine’s serves up anything from chicken cordon blue subs, southwest chicken wraps and Cubans to satisfy all tastes. The storefront is short in length, and a long wooden countertop separates the kitchen from the small dining room. The countertop is donned with the aforementioned chalkboard that serves as the shop’s menu. A cooler off to the side holds frosty Skis, Fritz’s Root Beers and other beverages. There’s something about this place that truly makes you feel comfortable as you walk in, like how a deli should be. Elaine herself greets my special guest and I as we peruse the pink and blue chalk descriptions below the counter. Elaine has operated her shop since 2015 and proudly notes to us that she sources many of her ingredients locally. After a quick Q&A about her favorite sandwiches, I’ve reached my decision.
Vendor: Elaine’s Classic American Sandwiches
Sammie: Buffalo Chicken
- Buffalo Sauce
- Gouda & Blue Cheese
- Shredded Cabbage
The initial bites are very bread-heavy. Maybe it’s the density of the brioche bun, or just the nature of the thinly sliced chicken, but I didn’t get much of the buffalo sauce until the third bite or so. Digging in a little bit further, I get the tanginess of the cheeses – this is great stuff. The bread is soft and borderline spongy. There is no crunch to this bread but it still works for me. A few more bites in and I take in the chicken and bread – but where’s the sauce? This take on buffalo chicken uses a more watery texture, almost like Louisiana or Cholula hot sauce. However, it really doesn’t have the spice or buffalo flavor I was expecting. I would compare it more to a red pepper sauce than a buffalo sauce.
As I finish up I can’t help but feel that the ratio of bread to chicken is just a little off. After accepting that the texture of the buffalo sauce wasn’t maybe as thick as I expected, I really thought that I would taste the buffalo or feel the burn a little more. That isn’t quite what I got, however and what I felt was a mostly brioche sandwich with some tasty cheese and chicken mixed in. Admittedly, I am a little bit of a buffalo chicken snob, but this one left something to be desired.