If you’re in need of some fast satisfaction, this Philly Steak place fits the bill, finds Kate Ginn.
You know the feeling. It’s late, you’ve just finished work and you’re starving hungry, so ravenous that you can’t think about anything else but food. This was the scenario for me this week after I finished a long day working at Y and stumbled out into the humid night around 9pm with a rumbling stomach.
I had no desire to cook (I’m not one for kitchens) and didn’t want a heavy dinner. There was one thing for it, then, it had to be fast food of some description.
As I was dashing to Al Mouj Muscat to pick up some cat food, I decided to drop into Charleys Philly Steaks, a sort of upmarket Subway (an outlet of which, coincidently, is opposite this Charleys), on the ground floor food court area.
Charleys originates in the USA and claims to serve the best “Philly Steaks on the planet”, which is a tall order, but with franchises all over the world (including six in Oman), there’s plenty of chance for different people to test this out.
Sadly, I’ve never been to Philadelphia so can’t judge how the Omani offering compares to “the real McCoy” but I do like my food, which sort of qualifies me to have an opinion.
Anyway, the premise of Charleys is simple: you order your size of roll from small, medium or large, whether you want brown or white, and then choose a filing. There’s a long list that includes anything from BBQ beef strips to Buffalo Chicken. Breakfast is served until 11.30am when you can have an omelette roll to kick start your morning.
Being a traditionalist, I thought it best to stick to the classic Philly cheese steak (thin sliced pieces of beefsteak and melted cheese) on a small brown roll with cheese chips, and strawberry lemonade to wash it all down.
Each order is made fresh and it turned out that the grill chef is from Tanzania, a place we had featured in Y Magazine just last week with the adventures of three Muscateers who were attempting to climb Mount Kilimanjaro. He was delighted that I knew about his country and after a nice chat, he got down to the business of making my sandwich.
It was quite busy in The Walk, so I settled down in a front table to do some people watching. I had just seen a little Arabic girl escape the clutches of her exasperated Filipino maid and make a break for the exit door, when my order was brought over. It took less than five minutes to prepare, which is much appreciated when you’re hungry.
I bit into the Philly sandwich and liked the combination of hot meat with creamy melting cheese. It was well cooked and the roll was fresh and soft. My chips were smothered in melted cheese – the kind of bright yellow cheese that you imagine might glow in the dark, which I enjoy, but might not be everyone’s liking. The first chip was a little hard but thankfully proved to be a rogue one.
In between sipping the super sweet strawberry lemonade – sugar rush anyone? – I polished off the meal in no time at all.
I was just finishing off the last chip when I saw the maid from before walk past holding on tightly to her errant charge who had earlier bolted for freedom.
Incidentally, there are kid’s meals too. I didn’t see any desserts but I’d had my sweet fill from the lemonade.
I like Charleys. It’s inoffensive, quick, easy and relatively tasty. The staff are friendly and engage with customers, service is straightforward and stress-free, and the environment is clean, if a little noisy at times.
It’s not fine dining or offering earthshattering taste but if you want that, then I suggest you go somewhere else.
But when you need a fast food fix or good, honest, unpretentious fare on a budget, it does the job.
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Charleys Philly Steaks
The Walk, Al Mouj Muscat
Open: 8.30am-12.45pm, seven days a week
Dinner for one with a drink: R2.94
8 / 10 Service
Value for money and service with a smile.