Grinders offers a handful of sandwich, a roomful of love
Special to The Seattle Times
Meet Mitch Gilbert, a man who spends his days cooking alongside his wife, mother, sister and even his mother-in-law. So why is this man smiling? Watch him in action and you'll know: He loves what he's doing, plus (like a good Jewish boy should) he listens to his mother — most of the time.
"We're the kind of family that when we're eating breakfast, we're thinking about lunch," says Gilbert, who worked in restaurant-related businesses for years before deciding the moment was right for the family "to do our thing."
Their specialty: hot sandwiches so stuffed you can almost hear them groan. Called hoagies, subs or heroes elsewhere, the Gilberts call these "hot sands" by their East Coast nickname, grinders.
Their restaurant, Grinders Hot Sands, offers 11 varieties, all priced at $7.95, most revealing a distinctly Italian accent. Choices range from meatballs, sausage, chopped steak and assorted salami, to grilled chicken or veggies, fried shrimp or catfish.
The soup of the day ($4.75/$6.95) is mom's department. (Hope that it's the Bavarian Brew Ha-Ha, a smoky broth thick with cabbage, sauerkraut and spicy Hungarian sausage.) Pasta du jour is "whatever Mom and I feel like making." Chili ($5.50/$7.95) and salads round out the menu. Interesting wines and imported beers well-matched to the food are priced just as moderately.
Place your order at the counter and settle there or at one of the big polished wood tables. Avoid the impulse to get your food to go; these sandwiches are at their best fresh from the oven. Besides, this cozy space filled with family photos and the scent of garlic and herbs practically begs you to stick around.
Check, please:SauBall Grinder: Have your sausage and meatballs, too. Tender and toothsome, both are a credit to the thick, spunky marinara sauce, but it's the 10-inch roll that puts this over the top: Crisp outside, soft and pliable inside, it's the equal of the legendary Amoroso rolls of Philly Cheese steak fame. Oozing mozzarella with freshly grilled onions perched precariously on top, this is a sandwich you don't so much eat as wear.
Whack Whack Salad: This chop-chop salad with a Brooklyn accent reveals romaine, red pepper, cucumber, lots of pungent salami and diced chicken, Kalamatas, crumbled gorgonzola and shredded mozzarella. Tossed with a nicely restrained dressing, it's mounded to an impressively high peak and served with pesto-brushed slices of ciabatta topped with melted mozzarella.
Kwak beer: Who could resist a chance to order a Kwak with a Whack Whack? The potent Belgian brew balances sweet, fruity and bitter notes with finesse, and is served in the traditional tall bulbous glass fitted into its own wooden caddy.
Bread pudding: A brilliant way to recycle those unused rolls, this not-too-sweet, raisin-studded pudding wears a golden crown and sits in a pool of cream sauce spiked with almost enough whiskey to require a class "H" license.
Itemized bill, meal for two
SauBall Grinder $7.95
Whack Whack Salad $8.50
Kwak beer $5.50
Bread pudding $4.95
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