As part of my ongoing research to find the five best fries in Charleston, I made a stop at Steak Escape. The first day we attempted to eat here, we had to abandon the mission due to lack of available parking. On our second try we had better luck. Wow – that is a small parking lot.
I can remember coming to this location “back in the day” when I was a University of Charleston student and a Taco Bell sat here. I used to drive here in my 1984 Buick La Sabre with fifteen of my closest friends seated comfortably in the Barge Car’s velour backseat. It was that big. Thank goodness for the diagonal pull-in parking spots because there was no way I was going to successfully park this mother on a city street. Even before my fond memories of coming to Taco Bell at 2 in the morning after a night at Drink or Drown at the Edge, I would come here with my Grandparents. Growing up, I lived in Buckhannon and greatly enjoyed spending a week or two with my “City Grandparents” here in Charleston. It was during those times that I fell in love with this city. We went to Charleston Charlies games on occasion, and beforehand would come to this, then Taco Bell. They thought it was amusing to buy me as many tacos as I could eat. Little or no limitation on the quantity of tacos or ice cream that I am allowed to consume – now that’s the mark of wonderful grandparents.
Enough reminiscing – today it is a Steak Escape. Before the invention of Penn Station, this is where one would come if one wanted a hot, grilled sandwich made right before your very eyes. Personally, I prefer Penn Station because they do a better job with the bread. But the fries are a close call.
Today I selected the Hambrosia – Ham, pineapple, and Swiss cheese. As you might expect it was a cross between a hot ham & cheese and a Hawaiian pizza. The inside of the sandwich was really yummy. The mix of the salty ham and the sweet pineapple makes a superb combination. The bread, however, was a dud. They didn’t do a thing with it. You have a hot grill, why not slap some butter on that bread and lay it face-down on the grill for a minute??? Penn Station runs theirs through some type of toaster conveyer belt to crisp the bread. But there’s no need to get that fancy, spending some time on the grill would do wonders for the soft, colorless, room-temperature bun. Colorless is good when buying a diamond, bad when talking about a great sandwich bun.
On the other hand, the fries had the perfect golden-brown color. I love the fries here. I could eat, literally, an entire 5-gallon bucket of these fries. Of course I would need a jug of Heinz ketchup to dip them into, but I could definitely pull off that stunt. They are fresh-cut fries cooked in peanut oil. I got a hearty portion of fries in the “small” cup. I always immediately dump them out on the paper the sandwich is wrapped in and sprinkle additional salt. Then I line up 2 or 3 tiny paper cups of ketchup around the edge. I don’t think I spoke a word to my fellow diners as I savored those fries after finishing the Hambrosia. Hot, salty, brown, crispy outside, potato-y inside… everything a french fry aspires to be. These fries will totally be in the Top Five. Just looking at the picture again makes my mouth water.
Pricewise, Steak Escape and Penn Station are about the same. Today I used a Dine a Mate coupon so my tab less than normal. The service was adequate – but what service do you really get? No one delivers your food, no one obtains drink refills, and you have to bus your own table. Just like most other sandwich joints.
The one thing holding Steak Escape back from getting a higher rating from me is the lackluster bread. Oh, and the tables are very crowded together in the dining room. It’s kind of hard to maneuver through there. But if you want some great fries, I highly recommend it – go with the large.
THREE FORKSSteak Escape 3700 MacCorkle Avenue SE Charleston, WV 25304 304-925-9001