The Club Sandwich at Erik's Isn't

No frilly toothpicks!? This is a big deal!!

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By David Hammond

At Erik's last week, I ordered a Chicken Salad Club Sandwich.

When it arrived, my heart sank:

* Instead of being on toasted bread, it was on untoasted bread

* Instead of being quartered, it was cut in half

* Instead of having meat-lettuce-bacon-tomato on each of the two levels, it had meat on one level and lettuce-bacon-tomato on the other

And it had no frilly toothpicks!

I've come to accept that what a menu calls "chicken pot pie" is rarely pie – it's usually just stew with a pastry shell on top.

I've come to accept that "baked Alaska" is almost never actually ice cream and sponge cake in a toasty meringue shell.

I've come to accept that "Caesar salad" will almost never contain raw eggs and whole Romaine leaves.

There's definitely room for "interpretation" of classic dishes, but that's not what this is. This ersatz club sandwich was the bastard child of carelessness and corner-cutting.

To have a popular time-honored institution like Erik's flagrantly ignore such basic club sandwich requirements as toasting and quartering and disposing ingredients equally between layers…that's just bullsh*t.

And no frilly toothpicks!? There's steam streaming out my ears now. This is a big deal!!


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Yolanda from Cape town, ,south Africa  

Posted: March 30th, 2014 2:41 PM

@Jack Hughes. You would know. I remember when you would visit Erik's twice a week for the Turkey Louise and (your own) Rostaroma tea. Fond memories. I was a Student Council leader at OPRF who was thrilled an honored to borrow your Roadster for Homecoming circa 1982. remember me? Yolanda Busbee

David Hammond from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: January 7th, 2014 2:51 PM

Kevil's sounds worthy. I have a new year's resolution for Kevil's: establish a website so that potential customers can get a sense of your place before committing to an evening there.

Dan Haley from Wednesday Journal Wednesday Journal Employee

Posted: January 7th, 2014 11:07 AM

I'm a fan of Kevil's though I've never had the Hoagie. Give me a business where the owner shows up for work every day and sincerely, and I mean every time we go, thanks us for coming, and I'm a repeat customer.

OPRFFB Letterman 1964 from River Forest  

Posted: January 7th, 2014 10:15 AM

For a great sandwich try the Hoagies at Kevil's. Be sure and order a side of the "secret homemade hash browns. This meal is to die for!! Great atmosphere and the owner is more laughs than Henny Youngman.

Suzanne Vestuto from Oak Park  

Posted: January 6th, 2014 10:14 PM

Erik's was opened in about '79 or '80 by the Jensens, owners of the former Neilsens Restaurant on North Avenue in Elmwood Park. I know, as I had a second job there for 1.5 years as a cashier, on top of my 8:30-5 job, when it first opened. Several years later Matt & his brother bought it. Very different!

David Hammond from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: January 3rd, 2014 5:51 AM

Free potato chips at Erik's, yes, I sure do remember, Gizmodog. I can forgive them removing that option, though. I believe there may have been hygiene concerns, and I do recall seeing people walk in off the street, grab a handful of free chips and leave. As so much meat now comes from factory farms, the quality everywhere has declined. We used to eat less but better meat. Now we eat a lot of mediocre meat. I did not, however, find the meat in my chicken salad club to be bad at all -- it was just everything else about the sandwich that bothered me. Some more sensitive eaters may even become peeved that the chips were not put in the center of the plate with quartered sandwich sections surrounding the pile, in the classic club/chip configuration. But outrage at such details might be going too far...


Posted: January 3rd, 2014 5:37 AM

Mr. Hammond, I would probably agree with you regarding the Chicken Salad Club Sandwich, if I ever ordered one because I have noticed a decline in the quality of the "Classic" Turkey Club Sandwich. The meat seems no different than what you get a Subway, sliced processed deli meat. As to the restaurant itself; remember when the potato chips were free?


Posted: January 2nd, 2014 11:15 PM

Erik's fell off my list after the remodel and decimation of the menu.

David Hammond from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: January 2nd, 2014 9:50 PM

V.A., I think convenience has a lot to do with it. People stop into places because they're nearby or fast. If they serve good food, that's an added bonus, but it seems not to be a prerequisite.

Violet Aura from Uranus (yes, YOURS;)  

Posted: January 2nd, 2014 6:35 PM

David, that is funny. And it's strange at the same time. Because people will go to a restaurant over and over and it is meh at best. My picks for best in OP? I like Munch and Kyber Pass.

Suzette from Oak Park  

Posted: January 2nd, 2014 5:45 PM

I had the same sandwich a couple of weeks ago and was surprised that it was not a traditional club. Having only been in Oak Park one year and a single household-walker......disappointed in the minimal restaurants available in DTOP. I have my favorites but where-oh-where is the variety. Too much emphasis on parking and not enough development on retail and eateries.

June from Oak Park  

Posted: January 2nd, 2014 2:45 PM

I miss the original owners, Matt & Jeff; Matt owned the Original Sandwich Factory in Willowbrook which is now closed. You can walk down OP Ave to George's & I'm sure you'll get toasted bread

David Hammond from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: January 2nd, 2014 11:08 AM

I've got Bootsy on my iPhone, but I'm not sure that level of funkitude is what's needed at Erik's. Still, music might, as you suggest, provide some atmosphere or personality to the place, which couldn't hurt.  

Posted: January 1st, 2014 10:11 PM

I've written a couple of times about Erik's and sent to management. Not about the food actually. Little atmosphere things since the remodel that I think would help to make it fantastic: lighting, sound, smell. I like Erik's veggie wrap - one of my favorite things anywhere. But the restaurant is too dark (they need to add more cans) and the music system needs an up. @DavidH - can we start a movement to have a restaurant with "funk" music in Oak Park.

David Hammond from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: January 1st, 2014 8:23 PM

V.A., I call Oak Park The-town-that-seems-like-it-should-have-more-good-restaurants-than-it-actually-does.

Violet Aura  

Posted: January 1st, 2014 4:23 PM

David, have you discussed your concerns with management? It's not a given that someone from Erik's will read this. This is a perfect example of how OP has lots of restaurants that are okay but not all that. For the type of town this is, I find it very odd that mediocrity is so rampant.

To David from Oak Park  

Posted: January 1st, 2014 3:58 PM

I couldn't have said it better myself,

David from Oak Park  

Posted: January 1st, 2014 3:01 PM

Erik's used to be one of Oak Park's best casual restaurants. Solid food served by friendly people in a restaurant with character. Between ownership changes and the remodel that took place, it has become a food option I don't even consider. The entire menu is overpriced, mediocre food served by ambivalent employees in a sterile environment. You're better off eating at Applebees.

David Hammond from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: January 1st, 2014 2:52 PM

Erik's is held dear by many Oak Parkers, including me. We used to go there all the time with our kids after soccer games. That's why this sandwich was such a blow. Next time: Turkey Louise. Thanks, Jack.

Jack Hughes from Chicago, Illinois  

Posted: January 1st, 2014 2:15 PM

For 30 years, Erik's has had the best sandwiches in-town. Try the Turkey Louise with chips!

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