I have been listening to Splendid Table for a couple years now. With Lynne Rossetto Kasper's melodic, smiling voice it is hard not to get excited about food. Each week on her radio program she has Jane and Michael Stern discuss their weekly food adventures. The couple writes the Road Food column in Gourmet magazine which correlates with their website Road Food. Jane and Michael travel across the country and eat delicious food (sounds like a dream job). A lot of the places they stop are local diners, which are a personal favorite of mine. Anyways, I became intrigued with their website and started looking up restaurants reviewed in NYC. The first place they mentioned was 99 Miles To Philly. Being a vegetarian I have no real interest in Philly cheese steaks - in fact I have never even had one when I ate meat. But in the Road Food review the place was said to have amazing onion rings - so I was there!
99 Miles to Philly is a casual place where you shouldn't mind getting grease on your shirt. The menu is upfront and direct. The Wit' and Wit' Out phrasing is charming.
I ordered at the counter a side of onion rings, fries (they were waffle!), pickles, and a root beer - DIET (I have to save calories somewhere). Everything came wrapped in grease soaked brown paper bags. The waffle fries were good, crisp on the outside with soft potato on the inside - just how I like. I would go on about them, but the onion rings stole the show. The onion rings were crispy on the outside and soft and sweet on the inside. They were cut thickly, with generous amounts of onion on the inside. I didn't have time to take a picture of the rings because I ate them so fast, but billyboy from Road Food did (see below). I would definitely go back just for the rings.
My partner in crime ordered a cheese steak wit' provolone, onion, and sweet peppers. These are his thoughts:
"After major disappointments at the some of the major meateterias in the city (namely Katz's Deli and Big Nick's) I had all but swore off cheese steaks in New York City. Now I can confidently say that there is only one cheese steak in NYC that I would even consider ordering again, and that is the sandwich served up at 99 miles from Philly. I have just one complaint; the meat was too dry. Considering that this is a steak sandwich we are talking about, this ends up being a considerable fault of the execution. But maybe this mistake was a one-off and my next visit will erase my only grumble. I imagine that visit will be soon considering the wide array of toppings luring me back. Pleasant surprises were their ketchup and steak sauce, not your usual Heinz affair, but since the bottles were unmarked I couldn't tell what they were."
If you are in the area near Union Square you should stop by for a deliciously greasy meal, just make sure you walk it off :)
Note: Jane and Michael Stern also have a book called Two For the Road. Read their review of 99 Miles to Philly here.