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Jan 6, 2008 06:27 PM

Fingerling Steak Sandwich

Does anyone else remember the days before I-95 and the MA Turnpike, when Route 15 into Route 5 (or was it Route 9?) was how you got from Long Island to Boston? The long drive would get more interesting somewhere above Meriden CT where there was a roadside restaurant, small and plain, that only made fingerling steak sandwiches. They were cheap, and they were delicious. I don't know what kind of meat it was, or why it was called a fingerling steak; I only know it was great and every once in a while I get a nostalgic yen for one. If anyone else is as old as I am, and remembers, would you please share your reminiscence? Or maybe (fingers crossed) you know somewhere that offers a reasonable substitute?

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  1. Posted - 09/02/2006 : 15:58:42

    The link below will bring you to a photo of the place as it is now sans the fingerling steak sign. It is in Berlin and is apparently for sale.

    The link below should bring up a picture of the old fingerling steak place on the Berlin Tpke.(route 5 and 15 overlap) in Berlin, Ct just above the Meriden town line. I ate there once around 1968 and as I remember, the fingerling was so named as it was cut long and narrow and was made of the meat that tenderized cube steaks are made of. I think it was served in a hot dog bun.
    I have never seen them anywhere else.


    5 Replies
    1. re: cheshirecat

      Oh, it does bring it back! Vanished "glory" --- guess I won't put it in a bid for it, though. Specs indicate it's 10 miles from I-91; we really did drive through the woods, as I remember. Many thanks, Cheshire Cat, for affirming that it was real. And maybe I could try tenderizing a cube steak (?) and sticking it in a hot dog bun. If I do, I'll post it here :-)

      1. re: BerkshireTsarina

        This is really embarassing as I didn't realize it in my previous post. There was another place specializing in "fingerling steak" sandwiches about a mile and a half north of the place I mentioned above on the opposite side of the road named Chum's and my wife and sister-in-law both worked there in the mid 60's. Wife tells me that the fingerling was a thin, non tenderized steak sandwich with grilled onions on top. She thinks it was served on toast. Personally, I never ate there. The building is now greatly altered and is occupied by the US Insulation Co. It's next door to Pure Pizza which has been reviewed on this site.

        1. re: cheshirecat

          Somehow the place in the photo from your original reply stirs faint memories (but we're going back to the early 50's, ancient days). I don't remember onions, and I don't remember toast. Long and narrow and a hot dog bun --- yeah, a firm maybe! I think I'd better give the tenderized cube steak a try myself. Although if fingerling steaks were so great, they probably wouldn't have gone the way of the snows of yesteryear. If I ever found a charlotte russe somewhere, IT probably wouldn't be one cloud away from heaven anymore either! Thanks for the update, Cheshirecat. And thanks to your wife also.

          1. re: BerkshireTsarina

            BerkshireTsarina, anyone who would know what a fingerling steak is would most certainly not know what a charlotte russe is. I know I didn't, till visiting Wikipedia. I hope you enjoy trying for a homemade reunion with the steak sandwich whichever version you may go for.

            1. re: cheshirecat

              So we know you're not from Brooklyn! The Wikipedia grand version of charlotte russe (at the open) has no connection with us humble fingerling steak admirers even older than "a certain age." This is the operative part:
              "The classic French dessert called charlotte russe is an elegant mold of ladyfingers, filled with flavored Bavarian cream. But to old-time Brooklynites, a charlotte russe was a round of sponge cake topped with sweetened whipped cream, chocolate sprinkles, and sometimes a marashcino cherry, surrounded by a frilled cardboard holder with a round of cardboard on the bottom. As the cream went down, you pushed the cardboard up from the bottom, so you could eat the cake...these were Brooklyn ambrosia." ---The Brooklyn Cookbook, Lyn Stallworth and Rod Kennedy, Jr. [Alfred A. Knopf:New York] 1994 (p. 386)

              Bought for a dime, if I remember (if one had a dime), eaten --- slowly--- on the way home from junior high. Oh, the stories that could be told by way of the foods of memory! Not even going to try and recreate a charlotte russe though.
              Stay warm and well fed there in Cheshire!

    2. I remember going to Dobson's Restaurant as a kid and getting those delicious fingerling steak sandwiches. We would take to NY from MA to visit my grandmother and this was always a stop for us. I loved the milkshakes they would make and put into your glass and leave the silver cup for you to fill it yourself. Loved this place, it brings back so many memories.

      2 Replies
      1. re: dojocama

        My Grandfather was Morris Dodson and yes, these are his famous sandwiches. My mother, Margaret Dodson, worked at the diner in high school and it is still a great family recipe. I miss him so much every day.

        1. re: mercerlately

          Does anyone else that you know of make them commercially, that is, for sale? I'm talking 60 years ago and I still remember them!
          Do you know how to do them, and what cut of beef to use? Do you share?
          (Did you ever have a yen to run a restaurant, I hope?)

      2. I was the night cook for Harvey Dobson 1963 those were the days!! Don't forget the fried clams.