Messiah University is a cultural crossroads of sorts for Pennsylvanians. Students come from all four corners of the commonwealth with a common educational purpose. As for myself, I hail from the suburbs of Philadelphia in Montgomery County. As a Philadelphian-by-association, I’ve had my fair share of cheesesteak-related foods. Whether it was loaded cheesesteak fries in a Wawa parking lot at 11:34pm, or some Asian fusion-style egg rolls and bao buns, you can’t go wrong with meat and cheese. The Falcon Cafe, however, begs to differ.
Falcon Flatbreads are a culinary creation that remains unrivaled on campus. Long-time Messiah Mealtime fans may remember the episode where I sort-of successfully recreated the flatbreads, but it never really hit the same way. But, my bewilderment began upon first opening the menu item. I was surprised to see lettuce as a topping option, and chose not to add it. But, I kept the traditional peppers, onions, and cheese on as they should be on all good cheesesteaks.
My disappointment unfolded just as I opened my cheesesteak flatbread. The Falcon surprised me with the tomato topping, which was not something I was able to, and would, opt out of. But, if I had known the onions and peppers were uncooked, I suppose I would have opted out of those as well. These two toppings are good ingredients to any cheesesteak, but more often than not they are cooked with the beef so the flavors infuse with each other. Other flatbreads often come with the veggie toppings uncooked, so I should expect that. However, this was not the worst crime The Falcon committed.
Many people think the roll is the key to the cheesesteak. I may lean towards that belief, but there are so many examples of cheesesteak deviations where the roll is substituted and the sandwich is still good. In my opinion, one ingredient that you cannot mess up is the cheese. The cheese part of the steak is what seamlessly glues the ingredients together. If you cannot properly cheese your steak, is it even a cheesesteak? The Falcon’s flatbread simply needs more cheese. The amount of meat is more than most Messiah sandwiches, but when it isn’t completely coated in cheese, the beef has a rather dry consistency.
I applaud the Falcon’s effort at this unique menu item. I think it’s a fun way to celebrate the Eagles going to the Super Bowl. In fact, with some minor improvements, I advise the Falcon to consider making this a permanent menu item. As it stands right now, however, many key characteristics of the traditional Philadelphia cheesesteak are lacking, but could easily be fixed. Nix the tomatoes, chop and saute the veggie toppings with the meat, and above all else, cheese your steak.
OVERALL RATING – 4 Kim Phipps’s out of 10