For eaters in the know, Cleveland-Heath, a cozy restaurant across the river in Edwardsville, is not only worth the trip from the Gateway City, it’s worth the wait for one of the coveted tables. The wait comes from a no-reservation policy, making a walk-in dinner a bit of a challenge if you are in a hurry, but if you can make it for lunch your odds of getting in and seated quickly are a bit better.
For the lunch crowd, soups and salads shine, and the cheeseburger is a can’t-miss. But, I’m partial to a massive (perhaps gargantuan) BLT that is big on flavor, without becoming an orgy on the altar of all things bacon. I know what I just said is sacrilege to the many followers of the church of bacon, but this take on the sandwich is worth noting for more than the inclusion of cured pork belly.
The sandwich gets its bulk from hearty slices of fresh baked pullman loaf, soft and chewy white bread that has been toasted to a golden brown. A bed of crisp lettuce provide a contrasting and pleasant crunch. Cleveland-Heath’s Illinois neighbor Rensing's farm provides thick cuts of smoky bacon, which may get top billing in the dish, but it is the “T” - tomatoes - that steal the show, especially when combined with a slathering of homemade mayonnaise. And what make these particular tomatoes so great, especially now in December? They’re oven roasted to concentrate their flavor and then are smashed down and spread onto toast instead of being unceremoniously laid out in oh-so-pedestrian slices. The result is a layer of deeply satisfying tomato flavor that is welcome now that the last vestiges of vine-ripened fruits have vanished from our farmers' markets and gardens for the year.
Make no mistake, Cleveland-Heath needs to be on your dinner radar, but if you haven’t been yet, head out for lunch, and make your meal this most-excellent BLT sandwich.
Cleveland-Heath, 106 N. Main St., Edwardsville, Ill., 618.307.4830, clevelandheath.com
Tired of reheating last night's dinner for lunch? Every Monday, food writer Andrew Mark Veety guides you to some of the best midday meals in the St. Louis region, with great places to bring clients or enjoy an outing with your co-workers. Missed one of his columns? Check them out here.
Catch Andrew on the air every Tuesday at 11:10am on the Big 550 KTRS' Martin Kilcoyne Show, where he continues the conversation on his weekly lunch picks.
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