The Roast Beef sandwich is easily one of the 5 best things about living in the North Shore/North of Boston area. I lived South of Boston for a few years, and between the lack of acceptable RB sandwiches and those damn little pizzas, it was a really trying time, dining-wise. I knew I needed to get back above the Pike.
Around here, everyone has their favorite place for Roast Beef, and they’ll swear by it. But to help all the Hi-Toppers who may want to open their minds- or cards on the table, just to try to start arguments- I’m going to be reviewing some of the hot spots for Roast Beef sandwiches in the area.
Here at Hi-Top Athletics, we like to use the official HTTA 13 point scale (patent pending). But with food reviews, I just feel that isn’t enough. I want to give the best possible review to the #regularguys and #regulargals out there, so for simplification purposes, I use a 130 point scale for all food reviews.
I’ll be reviewing the same order each place: Super Beef, Onion Roll, Am cheese, Mayo. I know you’re gonna say “Le Cap, you have to go 3-way!” First of all, go do your own reviews. Secondly, au contraire, many of these places use bottled BBQ sauce, some may make their own. It makes it too uneven of a playing field. So I find this the most pure way to judge the RB sandwich on its merits.
I started with Billy’s, which scored an incredible 124.5. Today, I’m reviewing another popular choice among locals, Harrison’s, in North Andover.
REVIEW: Two Bites, Everyone is aware of the stipulations.
Look: I’ll give added points here for the authenticity and grittiness in the shop. I don’t mean dirt-grit…the place is clean. It’s just an attitude. A guy takes my order with little in the way of a greeting, then, before ringing me in, completely walks away from the counter over to the prep area and reads off the order to the sandwich makers. No POS system here…this is old school. Behind the counter there are roasts coming out of the oven constantly, this is the real deal.
Now, as for the appearance of the sandwich….I’d honestly like to have seen some more beef in the large (their equivalent of Super). I’m not implying it’s a skimpy sandwich, but it’s also not extremely impressive.
Roll: Excellent, top notch roll here. Fresh, nicely toasted. It’s sturdy enough to hold up to the beef and condiments, but nice and soft to bite into. Perfect sidekick…adds to the whole sandwich, but doesn’t take away from the star. Which brings us too…..
Beef: There is something about standing in line and being able to see the roast beef cooking in the oven right in front of you, and seeing them put a fresh one on the slicer, carving off the beef for each sandwich to order. Doesn’t get any fresher than this.
Overall: I didn’t intend on doing Harrison’s so soon in this series, was going to hit 2 or 3 others first, knowing Harrison’s would probably score well. But, I actually got a lot of comments on social media about the Billy’s review and many of them were about Harrison’s. Obviously, I didn’t get to where I am by being stupid…give the people what they want! What I am going to do is, come back to these two places at the end of the Roast Beef Series, and re-grade them.
As I touched on above, I’m awarding some bonus points for the overall feel of the joint. I mean, their menu only has like 7 items on it. It screams “This is what we make, and we make it well. You don’t want one, GTFO”. I love it. Ballsy.
Overall the sandwich is kick-ass. Nice, fresh and juicy roast beef, perfect roll, perfect on the condiments….just well executed.
Unfortunately for the Harrison’s lovers out there, it fell just short of Billy’s. Quality is absolutely on par, but I have to detract slightly on the overall look of the sandwich. It didn’t have that slightly sloppy, overstuffed, beef falling out the sides, Roast Beef joint look to it. I can’t argue with you if you feel the opposite. It’s absolutely splitting hairs, but I give Harrison’s: