The Philly misses the juice

They're heavy on the Philly at Famous Phil's: names of city landmarks on the wallpaper, photos of the city everywhere, recent issues of Philadelphia magazine on the tables. The connection's even in the slogan, just in case you missed it: "Real Philly people making real Philly cheese steaks." (The editor in me wonders: Are they real people from Philly, or are they people who are really from Philly?)

So these had better be some fine cheese steaks, right? After all, one does not invoke the hometown of the cheese steak lightly.

On that score, Phil's is hit and miss. The cheese steaks themselves ($2.99 to $5.25) are good; not great, but a notch above the cheese steaks you'll get at, say, a sub shop. They crank 'em out right out in the open on a big flat grill, and the smell of searing beef and frying onions brings back fond memories of carnivals past. I found the meat flavorful but dry, not sopping and juicy the way a memorable sandwich should be.

Then there's everything else at Phil's. I had an all-American hoagie ($3.99) that was the most uninspired sub I've encountered outside of a Subway. The Italian wedding soup ($1.99) was indistinguishable from canned, and the onion rings ($1.89) were mushy on the inside and left a puddle of grease in the bottom of the container.

The place was packed with Full Sail students, and most of them were eating cheese steaks; the wise move is to do the same and not stray too far down the menu.

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