Some of you may recognize the name of the man I call my Central PA correspondent, Sam Komlenic. Sam's our proofreader at Malt Advocate, he's a real rye whiskey geek, he's a beer guy with solid old school credentials, and we think alike on enough things that I don't fear sending him out to check things for me. Like last week when I got an e-mail menu from Otto's, the State College brewpub, presenting their weekend specials, which included "grass-fed cheesesteaks." !!! I've been getting more and more into sustainable and grass-fed meat since reading Fast Food Nation and The Omnivore's Dilemma (thanks again, Stan), and when I saw that, and realized I was going to be in upstate NY all weekend, I forwarded the menu to Sam immediately and asked him if he could make the sacrifice and get his hungry self over there to check them out. As it happened, Sam already had a Friday lunch appointment with Otto's partner Roger Garthwaite, and within 5 minutes he had received the e-mail and accepted the challenge. Here's what he sent me:
Up front; you asked for the first food review I've ever attempted. I'm an Otto's Pub Club member and feel that they do a great job of being creative with their menu and ingredients, let alone the consistently great beer quality and selection. It's ten minutes from my house. I like the place. They also get negative feedback from me when it's warranted. Equal opportunity.
The sandwich was prepared from beef raised by Northern Tier Sustainable Meats in Troy, PA, a cooperative of family farms paying attention to environmental responsibility. It arrived hot on an oven-crisped, good quality roll. (Though Otto's works with a local artisanal bakery for most of their breads, this was not one of Gemelli's.)