When it comes to corned beef sandwiches, Cleveland's favorite, Corky and Lenny's, Jack's (no write-up), and Slyman's rise above the din. We've finally tried the most famous of the triumvirate, Slyman's, visited by celebrities and even a previous US president. The reason it has taken so long is a conflict between my work schedule with their hours of operation -- Monday through Friday, closed at 2:30 p.m.
I was a bit anxious prior to visiting since there is so much written about how long their lines are, the staff being brusque, patrons being testy, and so forth. We made it a point to visit at 10:00 in the hopes the restaurant would not be as packed. I crept through the doorway, peeped my head in expecting yelling and people jammed in a cubbyhole sitting on top of each other.
Raucous chatter between staff and old-time customers greeted us. The dining area consisted of a counter and around 20 tables seating 2-4 in two rooms, of which there were around 15 patrons seated. One of the walls is a Three Stooges shrine. Our server was a friendly and attentive woman who likely knew this was our first visit as we studied each line of the menu.
We ordered the obvious: Reuben (Swiss cheese, sauerkraut, grilled rye, Thousand Island dressing) to share (~$12.50), as well as side orders of cole slaw and potato salad ($2.50 each). Slyman's offers a number of dishes that aren't centered around corned beef. I wonder how many people order their tuna salad sandwich or barbecue beef brisket.
At first, Bug was skeptical about sharing one sandwich between two ravenous adults until the behemoth arrived several minutes later, followed by our hefty scoops of potato salad and coleslaw. A jar of horseradish sits at each table, and a cold squeeze bottle of Thousand Island dressing arrives so one can apply as much as ones heart desires. Bug apparently desired much from the picture below.
Without hinged jaws, what surely must have been at least a 5" stack was cut down by more than half, where the extra corned beef was hoisted to the other side of my plate and devoured gleefully with the slaw and potato salad. The meat was moist, lean, wafered, tasty, yet not overly salty -- the best I've had.
If you like mayonnaise-moist potato salad without raw onions, you'll love the potato salad here. With the inclusion of carrots and cucumbers (or fresh kosher dill pickles), the potato salad was reminiscent of Hawaiian style potato salad. As a result, I gobbled up 2/3rds of it. I would have felt guilty, but Bug prefers onions and a lot of mustard in his potato salad.
The coleslaw was good and creamy. It was not screwed up by the addition of onions, horseradish, mustard seeds, apples, cheese, or any number of other ghastly things people add. Why do people fiddle with coleslaw without any warning?
I walked out feeling like a glutton having only eaten half a sandwich...and most of the potato salad and half the coleslaw. The one downside of splitting a sandwich is sharing their fresh kosher dill pickle. Fortunately, this predicament is easily resolved by ordering another pickle.
Between the three restaurants, Jack's wins overall for their price, service, availability, and menu. However, Slyman's easily wins for their sandwich, and their service is fantastic, too.
Breakfast (corned beef with eggs!) is served until 11:00 a.m. and the lunch menu is served as soon as they open their doors at 6:00 a.m. When I am in the mood for a corned beef sandwich early in the morning on a weekday and off work, I now know where to go. We're not just settling with any old corned beef sandwich, too!
3106 Saint Clair Ave NE
Cleveland, OH 44114
Tel: (216) 621-3760