Maybe it’s just the radio stations I listen to, but I feel like PepperJax Grill advertises like crazy and does it pretty effectively. First person, live-to-tape commercials describing their famous Philly cheese steaks are presented like a testimonial by the radio host…..and they’re pretty convincing.
I always hear these around 4pm, just when my lunch is starting to wear off and I’m all ears with my mouth watering to the description of the “sirloin cooked right in front of you, perfectly seasoned, loaded with peppers onions mushrooms, and served on a hearth-baked roll!”
Since Pepperjax is located nowhere near my neighborhood or regular route, I recently took the opportunity to stop by when I was driving back into town from visiting family. The large dining room was somewhat slow for a Saturday night, but it was a little late for most people’s dinner and I think the crowd had gathered at the Tanner’s next door.
After a terse look over the menu, of course I ordered the Philly Cheese Steak sandwich. I wanted to also try the Chicken Philly, so I ordered double mean and asked that they do one end of the sandwich with steak and the other with chicken. This caused a little consternation among the two workers behind the grill, but despite a sad ration of peppers and onions to meat, they got it figured out.
The beef came in a patty shape and easily separated into thinly sliced steak shreds when the cook hit it with his spatula. Kind of interesting to watch, but still enticing. Now the chicken was a different story, this was compressed patty of “chicken parts” if I’ve ever seen one. Even watching the cook cut through it looked odd because of the spring it gave back. Other than the color there wasn’t much to resemble a real chicken breast.
There was a nice bar with fresh toppings, dressings and sauces for dipping. I loaded up some ranch for my french fries and some mushroom sauce and au jus for the sandwich.
Unfortunately, even the sauces couldn’t redeem this sandwich. Nothing about it was exactly bad, but nothing was good either. The steak was essentially lifeless and the bun chewier than I would have liked. In my book, it would pass for a mediocre Philly. The chicken side was far worse. The texture of the poultry was something I just couldn’t get past, and I’m a girl who will gladly eat a compressed patty fried to perfection from McDonald’s. The little cubes reminded me of tofu with the springy texture and I just couldn’t get past the tiny air holes that kept reminding me this was nothing near a natural state for chicken.
Then there was the saltiness. Ask any of my friends and they will tell you I use far to much salt at the table, I’ve just got a taste for it. But the sodium packed into that Philly sandwich was more than I could handle. It overpowered nearly every other flavor in the sandwich. When I think something is too salty, that means it’s inedible for most. So if you plan to try PepperJax, be sure to tell them you wanna go light on the seasonings.
There was one high point of my meal – the french fries. When I asked the clerk what was good, he named a few items and told me their french fries were fantastic. I decided to take his word for it. I was a little disappointed when he checked the warmer and could see him making the mental decision not to drop more fries into the deep fryer. He served up the sparse bunch sitting under the warming light, but they were still outstanding! If I ever have a craving for french fries, this would be a place to get them.
While PepperJax claims to win awards year after year and says it’s known for “America’s Best Philly”, I think they need to pay closer attention to their radio ads and try to create the kind of sandwich they’re advertising.