(Non-Philly) Steak Sandwiches in restaurants?
I was pondering this earlier and couldn't find a quick answer.
If I go to a restaurant in my neck of the woods (Alberta, Canada) and order a "Steak Sandwich" on a menu it invariably looks like the following:
A toasted piece of french bread or bun with an uncut piece of grilled striploin on top. It may or may not include sauteed onions and mushrooms and it never has the top piece of bread. Kind of like a tuna melt.
When I google steak sandwich all I get is the Philly variety. In Alberta if you want a "philly cheesteak" you have to find a place that lists it as exactly that.
So I'm wondering, is this a regional thing?
I don't know if the steak sandwich you described is a regional thing or not, but I was always confused by this sandwich when it was served in my home state of Minnesota. It certainly cannot be picked up and eaten like a sandwich. It really is just a small sirloin steak (usually overcooked) served with a couple pieces of toast. I guess the idea is to eat it with a knife and fork. It must be a way to serve a small steak.
I am in New England and it is hit and miss. Sometimes steak sandwiches are listed as having "shaved beef" which would fall along the Philly lines. Other times, it is an open faced type affair where you have no hope of picking the thing up. Usually the description will let you know what you're getting. However, I have never seen a steak sandwich with uncut beef, it is always cut.
The only steak sandwich that's on my radar is skirt steak on a French roll. Pretty common in Chicago (it's definitely not everywhere, but it's not an unusual menu item). There's a Cuban version in the ropa vieja. That's not to say there aren't other steak sandwiches out there. As for the steak on a slice of bread, the sandwiches I see around here are meant to be held and eaten.
Haven't seen one in years, but I remember in the Midwest getting a steak sandwich like you describe, except *with* a top piece of French bread. Usually a somewhat tasty but tough steak. Yes, hard to eat as a sandwich because you had to gnaw or pull pieces of beef apart with your teeth as you ate.
You describe exactly what I remember, except it was served with regular toasted white bread. I always remember thinking, 'why do they call this thing a sandwich?' because I don't recall anyone actually picking it up and attempting to eat it that way. I seem to recall it as a way of ordering a small steak, usually sirloin.
In our area of southern CT, a steak sandwich on the menu of a diner or independent restaurant (not a sandwich shop) would mean an oval plate with one whole piece of white toast in the center, a 2nd piece cut diagonally in half, with a half on each end of the whole piece so that the points faced the long end of the plate. A 1/4-3/8" thick boneless steak that had been grilled or cooked on the flattop would top the bread. A small portion of fries would be included and it would me served with knife and fork. The cut most often served would be that traditionally known as minute steak. Some places garnish with iceberg lettuce and tomato.
Sandwich places that offer a steak sandwich (as opposed to a Philly Steak sandwich) would serve the same cut on a kaiser roll with a picle spear on the side. Fries and cole slaw would be ala carte, or included if you ordered 'deluxe' which also would have lettuce and tomato.