Welcome back to The Bite, Sheepshead Bites’ weekly column where we explore the foodstuffs of Sheepshead Bay. Each week we check out a different offering from one of the many restaurants, delis, food carts, bakeries, butchers, fish mongers, or grocers in our neighborhood. If it’s edible, we’ll take a bite.
Ladies and gentlemen, let’s get ready to rumble! In this corner, Wheeler’s roast beef “all the way” hero.
The Bite expands the battle for the roast beef crown of Sheepshead Bay. With Roll-n-Roaster, Brennan & Carr, Bassett’s and John’s Meat Market all offering superlative roast beef sandwiches, is the neighborhood ready for another? The Bite says, “Hell, yes!”
Wheeler’s (1705 Sheepshead Bay Road) roast beef sandwich offering takes a different tack than the competitors by going a bit upscale. The roast beef “all the way” hero ($8.95, includes french fries) serves up “prime” top round roasted until it’s well done, adds au jus, melts mozzarella cheese on top of that and sends it into battle on a garlic bread hero.
Unlike its competitors, Wheeler’s uses “prime” roast beef in its sandwich, which ensures tender and flavorful meat. Beef is graded by the USDA into five primary categories, “utility, cutter or canner,” “standard or commercial,” “select,” “choice” and “prime.”
“Utility, cutter or canner,” grade is the lowest quality and is not usually sold as is for retail consumption. This grade of meat is usually used to make animal feed and ground meat products. Do I hear someone saying, “Yo quiero Taco Bell!”?
“Standard or commercial,” which is often sold ungraded or sold as “store” brand meats. “Select” is lean and very uniform, but fairly tasteless. “Choice,” is marbled with fat somewhere between select and prime and is probably the meat you’re used to eating. It’s flavorful and stands up to most cooking styles. “Prime,” is the top rating of beef issued by the USDA. Prime comes from young and well-fed animals, is very well marbled with fat and is usually only found in restaurants and some top-quality butchers and markets.
In its simplest terms, this grading system rates the meat by the amount of fat marbled throughout the muscles. I know this is heresy to many, but this is a basic rule of dining – FAT EQUALS FLAVOR. Embrace that fact and you’ll appreciate your food more.
Wheeler’s roast beef sandwich is “prime,” and I don’t just mean the grade of the meat. To this eater, it has won the “Sheepshead Bay Roast Beef Crown.” There’s a few reasons for this and first up is that the sandwich is served hot. Cold roast beef has its place, but if I have my druthers, I always prefer a warm meal, which knocks Basssett’s and John’s out of the game from the get go. Next is the price. At $8.95 Wheeler’s includes fries and this makes it the most expensive hot roast beef sandwich combo compared against either Brennan & Carr or Roll-n-Roaster. But Wheeler’s is the better value. At both Brennan & Carr and Roll-n-Roaster, it usually takes two sandwiches to satiate my hunger.
And finally, it’s the taste. The flavor is always the ultimate challenge in any meal. While I enjoy all three, Wheeler’s just tastes better. The secret here is the garlic bread. I’ve never had a meal where I didn’t enjoy toasted garlic bread. Garlic makes just about everything better.
Ladies and gentlemen, winner and new Sheepshead Bay champion: Wheeler’s roast beef “all the way” hero.
Wheeler’s, 1705 Sheepshead Bay Road, (718) 646-9320.