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Robb Report Vices

Raising the Steaks

Troy Johnson

As decreed in the bylaws written in grease on the curbs outside of Pat’s King of Steaks and Geno’s Steaks in Philadelphia, the almighty cheese steak is a humble affair. Enjoying one typically requires more napkins than dollars. Such is not the case at Barclay Prime, the city’s “luxury boutique steakhouse” in Rittenhouse Square, which has introduced the classic sandwich to the finer things in life.

Since its headline-grabbing debut in 2004, the Barclay Prime cheese steak has gone through several incarnations, though its current form—wagyu rib-eye, foie gras, and truffled cheese “whiz” (as described on the menu)—is what executive chef Jeff Froehler declares, “the best by far.” Without question, the $100 dish is the apex of the cheese-steak pyramid, though it may be a bit jarring for some—kind of like spotting Bruce Springsteen wearing an ascot. Nevertheless, the sandwich is unabashedly decadent. To fully understand the dish’s merits, we sat down with Froehler, who gladly explained what makes it tick.

Sesame semolina hoagie roll

It’s baked a few doors down, which means it’s always the freshest it can be. “The bread, believe it or not, is the key,” says Froehler. “It’s a little chewy in the center and super-crisp on the outside. You get that semolina flavor with the toasted sesame seeds. It’s phenomenal.”

Truffle butter

Generously slathered on the hoagie roll. Enough said.

Caramelized onions

Easy to make, but a necessary component, since they add a touch of sweetness.

Snake River Farms American wagyu rib-eye

You knew it was coming. Wagyu is the thread that typically connects most $100 sandwiches, and Snake River is America’s alpha farm. “A full seven ounces,” Froehler says, “and every single piece is perfectly sliced.”

Truffled cheese “whiz”

It’s melted with a touch of cream. Trust us, there’s nothing “whiz” about it.

Hudson Valley foie gras

“About three ounces in nice, big, caramelized slices,” says the chef. “We switched it to lobster for a while when protestors hit us, but [foie gras] is back.”

A half bottle of Perrier-Jouët “Grand Brut”

“We serve it with Champagne because Champagne means you’re experiencing something special,” Froehler says. “You’re not going to eat this with a Miller Lite.”

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