November 14, 2012

Ithaca Is Gorgers: New Shop Gets Two Subs Up

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I’d like to tell you a story. One filled with surprise, challenges overcome and hearts won.  The story begins when I went to check out the new sub shop Gorgers on West State Street one inconspicuous Monday night. As I walked in, no one else but my friends and I inhabited the newly renovated restaurant. Looking up at the large paper menu taped to the bulletin with red duct tape underneath it declaring “Best Subs” hastily written in sharpie, I was quick to judge.

Then I looked closer at the menu and saw sub combinations I had never seen before:  Coconut Shrimp, Bahn Mi, Cabernet Steak, Pittsburgh Vegan, among others. Although my taste buds were intrigued, I was unsure if they were going to be pleased. My friends were having the same dilemma: Go the classic route and get a Buffalo Chicken or Hummus sub that would guarantee satisfaction or take the risk and go for a combination unlike any I had ever encountered.  One of the owners, half of the brother duo involved in this subventure, was more than willing to accommodate the others I was with. He offered an array of different options and suggestions helpful in creating the perfect offbeat sub. The Sweet Thai Chili sub seemed like an engaging combination worth adventuring, so I ordered that and started off with their soup du jour of West African chicken curry.

We sat down at the only seating arrangement of a long tiled counter extended across a wall adorned with really interesting local and affordable artwork. Not long after, our starter of flatbread and hummus arrived. Served on a large, white piece of paper, I wondered if their dishwasher had broken and if they ran out of plates. As I took a first bite of the soft, untoasted flatbread and smooth red pepper hummus, I became more charmed by the serving style than critical of it. As music choices of Aqualung, Dave Matthews Band and Norah Jones played in the background while we made small talk with the owner, the relaxed and chill vibe of the sub shop came to light. My uptight preconceived notions quickly slipped away, as I embraced the quirky yet charming undeveloped nature of the shop that embodies the ideal college eating experience.

I am usually not the biggest fan of curry, but the West African chicken curry soup, concocted by one of the owners, changed my mind. A perfect blend of spices, the curry had my taste buds begging for seconds (and thirds and fourths). I usually find curry overpowering in many dishes, but this soup exhibited mastery over what can be a fickle spice. The shredded chicken mixed with vegetables and artful blend of spices had my friends and I lauding it as the best curry dish we have had. Served daily is a French Onion soup, in addition to a soup of the day.

Some say you can’t judge a book by its cover. But let’s get real: We all do it. Despite what I was taught in elementary school, a book simply will not tempt me if the cover illustration is not tantalizing. A sub is the same way; if the roll is lackluster, no matter what  genius the contents may hold, the rest of the sub loses its appeal.

Needless to say when the sweet Thai chili creation was placed in front of me (on white paper, of course), I judged that it was going to be far above sub-par. And my judgment was right: The thick, fresh bread, baked daily in house, encased the eclectic array of ingredients with just the right ratio of bread deliciousness to generous contents. The combination of sweet grilled onion and pineapple with shredded chicken mixed with a tangy, sweet Thai chili sauce made me wonder how I had not thought of this delectable fusion before. All of their sauces, including the sweet Thai chili sauce, are thought of and created by the brother duo. And for half of a hearty sub at $7, I’d take any of Gorgers fantastic combos and sauces over a $5 foot-long any day.

Award another point to Gorgers: It has a food challenge. The base of the challenge stems from its Caribbean Fire Sub and is then loaded with Trinidad scorpion chili pepper and more peppers on top of that. After finishing the sub, if you do, three minutes must pass before you are allowed to drink anything. Luckily for us, we were able to get dinner and a show as we watched one brave young fellow, Zac Peterson ’14, a Sun staff photographer, conquer this fiery feat and win a Gorgers t-shirt.

Just as we were getting ready to leave, one of the brothers was holding three potatoes in his hands and asked the best possible question: “Do you guys want some fresh potato chips?”  Five minutes later, out come the best potato chips I have ever had. Perhaps it was the oil and the warmth of the chip, or maybe it was the fact they were on the house. More likely, it was the best and most fitting ending to our Gorgers experience that won my foodie heart. Gorgers is the place to go (or to call for delivery) if you’re looking for delicious, distinctive subs and an intimate, chill ambience. I give Gorgers two subs up.

Original Author: Casey Carr