The Philly cheesesteak was always Brendan Banks’ favorite sandwich, even though he was almost always disappointed when he ate one. “The idea — beef, cheese, onions, peppers, roll — is great,” he said. “But the execution …”
The owner of Huntington’s new United Cheesesteaks dissected the classic version: low-grade meat (“If it’s really rib-eye, it’s probably USDA Choice, or even Select”), Cheez Whiz (“which runs down your arm”) and a cottony roll (“If the sandwich sits wrapped in foil, it turns to mush”). And so he set out to build a better cheesesteak, using Prime strip loins, slices of American cheese and crusty French baguettes.
But Banks wanted not only to improve on a classic, he wanted to broaden its scope. As the name of his shop implies, he’s expanded beyond the City of Brotherly Love, offering more than a dozen geographically inspired sandwiches including the Death Valley (beef, bacon, Pepper Jack cheese, chipotle mayo and hot sauce), the New York (beef, provolone, onions and peppers, garlic mayo), the New England (beef, mozzarella, onions, horseradish mayo), the Carolina (beef, bacon, Cheddar, onions and barbecue ranch dressing) and even a few cheese “steaks” that swap out chicken thighs for the beef such as the Long Island (chicken, bacon, mozzarella, onions and gravy) and the Miami, a take on the Cuban sandwich that features chicken, bacon, Swiss cheese, pickles and Dijon mayo. Prices range from $10.50 to $11.50.
Also on the menu: sausage sandwiches ($10.50 to $13.50), grilled cheese sandwiches on thick Texas toast ($6.50 to $9), salads ($8.50 to $12.50) and sides ($3.50 to $6.75 for "Irish nachos).
United Cheesesteaks is a re-branding of the shop that launched in February as Rotisserie Banks with a menu of rotisserie-roasted beef and chickens as well as more health-oriented bowls. Banks said that customers found the original concept difficult to get their heads around, and that the lack of parking was a deterrent for those looking to pick up meals to take home.
“We have a lot of foot traffic here,” he said. “And when they see ‘cheesesteaks,’ they get it immediately.”
Despite the change in direction, Banks is still roasting his strip loins to a perfect medium-rare. This reporter is very happy he kept Rotisserie Bank’s supernal French dip sandwich on the menu.
United Cheesesteaks is at 295 Main St., Huntington, 631-923-3650, unitedcheesesteaks.com.