The City Paper has viewed many restaurants with diverse menus that offer new cuisine to an unfamiliar public. Heavy Beer Company is an exception with a single food item available — a hot beef sandwich — like you might find in Chicago masquerading as Italian Beef or in Philly as a cheese steak.
If a menu is limited to a single item, it’s important that the item itself, or the business around it, is something special. Both the Toledo Hot Beef sandwich and the Heavy Beer Company are decidedly special.
Located in the basement of the Toledo Spirits building on Summit Street, directly beneath another restaurant and bar, Heavy has competition in the area, even in its own building. The bar itself has an air of confidence and swagger. Once you get a whiff of the hot beef, and a taste of the freshly brewed beer on tap, you will definitely want to stay.
Nothing satisfies like . . .
Eric Strayer, Marketing Coordinator for Heavy Beer Co., explains that the hot beef sandwich comes from being “a fan of other cities’ iconic beef sandwiches, like the Philly Cheese Steak and Chicago Hot Beef, and [we] thought that Toledo should have its own sandwich. We definitely didn’t want guests enjoying Heavy Beer on an empty stomach and we knew we needed something filling and delicious, but also practical to execute.”
The Hot Beef was designed after “experiment(ing) with various styles of bread, cheese, and beef before nailing down the recipe”. The ingredients include the sandwich’s secret weapon: a topping dubbed Bloody Mary spread. “The spread is a reduction of the house made Bloody Mary mix used upstairs at Bellwether Cocktail Bar,” explained Strayer, “and it has just the right amount of spice and horseradish to really make the Toledo Hot Beef pop.”
You can tell how much pride Heavy takes in its Toledo Hot Beef ($15) when you step into the bar. Walking down the stairs you’re immediately alerted to Heavy’s one available food option with a massive arrow – the “BEEF” sign behind the bar alerts patrons to the main ingredient.
When the sandwich is delivered, the smell hits you in the face while unwrapping it. The sandwich bread is crusty, making it rigid enough to hold the toppings, but soft in the middle to absorb the meat’s juices. The sweet and tangy Bloody Mary spread has a ketchup-like consistency, topping the beef and mingling with the melted cheese.
The sandwich comes with sides to take it from great to glorious. Gardiniera (a mixture of pickled vegetables, a standard of Chicago Beer) is crunchy and a perfect topping, but not for the faint of heart. It brings a wonderful kick to the sandwich, one that lingers. For those who do not revel in the marvels of spice, there’s also a great au jus for dipping. Made from the drippings of the beef, the sauce enhances the savory richness of the beef.
The Hot Beef paired well with Heavy’s American pale ale, ‘Loop’ ($6), a rich ale that bolsters the flavors of the sandwich and tempered the spice of the giardiniera. But any of Heavy’s beer selections will make a perfect companion when you try Toledo’s new iconic sandwich.