I’ve only eaten one Philly cheesesteak before, and it was a terrible introduction. It was at a random Manhattan diner and it was unappetising and generally rubbish. I left feeling disappointed and slightly queasy and didn’t expect to eat one ever again.
Fortunately for Melbourne diners, as the Americana trend matures regional specialties are emerging from the generic burger and hotdog menus. Sparrow’s specialises in Philly cheesesteaks and is located in Catfish on Gertrude St (which was previously the shabby bar Gertrude’s Brown Couch). Now it has a minimalist interior with a menu of craft beers and warm heating to combat the cold of winter and the bare concrete floor.
I had the cheesesteak with jalapenos and American cheese. The steak is sliced thin and is tender, the onions have that perfect charred grill taste, the bun is soft yet chewy and the cheese is delicious yellow goo. The fries are good and the onion rings are fantastic. I chose a Tooborac American pale ale because I’ve enjoyed it previously at a tasting of the microbrewery’s beers at their home in the Tooborac hotel.
On a Monday night the basic cheesesteaks are only $8 or $10 with fries. This is an absolute bargain and I’ve never seen a bar so popular on a Monday night. Not much is open on a Monday so that may account for part of it, but the main appeal is the food. I will definitely be returning.