It was Sunday, a day I spend with my family, taking my kids out for lunch. I’m not sure why, but my little one insisted she wanted to visit a mall, ABC then changed to Beirut City Centre. BCC it is! Where better there to eat than the food court, where the choices are wide enough to please everyone?
I've been wanting to try The Steak & Cheese Factory, a place with a catchy logo and unappetizing pictures. In the heart of the Beirut City Centre, up in the food court lay Steak & Cheese, today was the day. Approach the red and blue counter where a couple of backlit panels display the available choices. As far as I could understand, the place offers a choice of meat or chicken sandwiches which you can have in 30cm or 23cm buns, as well as a selection of burgers.
To be honest, seeing those photos made my wife and friends want to have another option, but I was determined to try it. On the counter, a bunch of menus were left around. As I said already, the menu concept is not clear, so I waited my turn to ask the cashier. The stand is simple, you can see to the left side a photo of baseball players, to the right is the Pepsi draft machine while one single employee, on a busy Sunday, was trying to handle the cash, the orders and distribution. Inside, again, one single employee in charge of the sandwiches, the fries and other orders. We had to wait to be served.
On the wall is written: "He who does not mind his belly will hardly mind anything else." Samuel Johnson
On the menu you can read: "There is no love sincerer than the love of food..." Georges Bernard Shaw
When it was my turn to order, I was informed that there are four sizes of sandwiches. The 30cm, the 23cm, the 19cm and the 15cm. Chicken, or meat, two simple choices but I discovered later on when I was back home, that their most famous variety is the chicken-meat mix.
I had one chicken and a steak & cheese:
- The quality of the chicken and meat are both very good, tender and enjoyable
- The chicken is not marinated in garlic
- Sandwiches are mixed with tomatoes, bell peppers, corn and onions: all grilled
- On top of the mix, mayonnaise and BBQ sauce are added
- The bun is close to a pain au lait. Soft and airy, melting under your teeth with no effort
I have reviewed sandwiches before and the last to date was Subway. What I expect from a sandwich is to be consistent, have different textures and where ingredients are felt distinctively. Bread, the item embracing the mix, should have a texture that gets along the filling; A very soft filling can't be handled by a very soft bun... it'll feel like a Labneh sandwich.
Now let's eat: McDonald's, Burger King or Subway show you fake images but the ones at Steak & Cheese Factory, other than being unappetizing, are a complete flop. You expect to enjoy their food judging by the picture, but it turns out to be far from reality. Inside this soft bun, a mix of meat, vegetables and cheese. I loved the quality of the meat and chicken but the onions are too crunchy and the bell pepper's taste covers the other ingredients and leaves an unpleasant aftertaste in your mouth. The cheese, that's shown in the picture as layers topping the mix, -and that's how it should be done- is mixed within, creating a very soggy mix that's not too pleasant to feel. I'm not sure why, but I had two bites of each sandwich and stopped... felt heavy.
I'm not pretending I can change an international franchise's recipe but I would, personally:
- Start by doing a new photo shoot which show less light reflection in the images, less meat that looks like carpets and remove those black dots of sauce that are so unappetizing
- Make the bread a bit harder so it embraces the mix without slacking and crumbling apart, since the filling is way too soft
- Add the cheese on top of the mix and not mixed within it
- Use less green pepper
- Cut the tomatoes a bit bigger so you can feel them under your teeth
- Use less mayonnaise
Good quality, studied prices, but not something that impressed me or made me want to come back.