It's not easy to create a truly authentic Philly Cheesesteak sandwich in London, says JP Teti, the founder of the Liberty Cheesesteak Company. JP, a proud Philadelphian, moved to London eight years ago to take on a role with a multinational corporation, heading a £100 million division. But something was amiss in his new home and what started as a thought became a new career.
There are three essential ingredients that one must get absolutely spot on to create a truly great Philadelphia Cheesesteak Sandwich, he says: the bread, the meat and the cheese. Simple enough, you might think.
A mouthful of deliciousness
Well you’d be wrong; the obsessive pursuit of perfection in the tiny details of these three key ingredients is what separates a passable imitation of a Philly Cheesesteak sandwich from the real deal - one that even the most staunchly traditional Philadelphian would taste with a smile and a nod of appreciation.
Now, I might not be a staunchly traditional Philadelphian myself, but personally I think the Liberty Cheesesteak company have absolutely nailed it.
The meat – prime rib eye beef supplied by the best butchers in London - truly is a cut above; flavourful and amazingly tender. It is seasoned to perfection and mixed with onions to create an unforgettable and distinctive taste.
JP aimed to create a true taste of Philly
The cheese is handmade by the Liberty Cheesesteak Company to make sure that the subtle balance of flavours needed to create the traditional cheese, “wiz”, are always on the money. It is unlike any cheese I have tasted before, gooey and rich and, much to my delight, abundant in the sandwich; spread on the bread and drizzled over the meat before the sandwich is served.
If you need a measure of how important the bread is to this sandwich then consider this; only one bakery in London has been trusted to bake the loaves to Liberty Cheesesteak’s exact specifications. It is hard to describe the loaf – a crunch is swiftly replaced by a spongy, satisfyingly soft centre, that, as a bread aficionado, ticked every box imaginable.
A single bite takes you on a formative journey through the flavours of Philly – each element takes centre stage for a moment before giving way to the next, eventually coming together in a true collocation of culinary delight. I was enjoying so much I didn’t realise I was reaching the end until a heart-sinking moment when I briefly glanced up from my grazing.
Yeah, it rains here
Needless to say, I wolfed down the sandwich in under five minutes, while talking to the friendly staff about next year’s NFL season (go Eagles!). It may have been National Philly Cheesesteak Day today, which is a good reason to head down there, but, frankly, I won’t be needing any excuse to keep coming back.
Liberty Cheesesteak is situated at Love Park in Spitalfields Market and is open seven days a week. The company is opening its very own flagship Philadelphia experience restaurant in Fitzrovia later this year. So watch this space, cheesesteak lovers.