With the summer’s unofficial end last weekend, and autumn nipping at its heels, I get to start thinking about my favorite holiday—Thanksgiving.
I love a holiday that is all about appreciation, food, and appreciation of food. It is also totally without gifts to buy, hidden hardboiled eggs to lose track of, or fireworks that, while beautiful, threaten to shatter the fragile hard-earned calm of sleeping children.
As much as I love Thanksgiving, though, I love the next day even more.
Nothing beats a chunky sandwich made from leftover ham or turkey, cut by hand from the shank or whole bird. I even admit to sometimes not even waiting until the next day to make my leftover sandwich. My stomach stretched from earlier overeating, I am usually mysteriously hungry again late at night after the Thanksgiving feast.
Besides holiday fixings, HoneyBaked Ham in Willow Grove specializes in these hearty types of sandwiches. No shaved cold cuts here—each sandwich is made with thick slices of meat, interesting condiments, and various tasty breads.
On any given day, you can eat like it is the day after Thanksgiving, without putting up with lingering out-of-town family members. You will have to take your food to go, though, as there is no place to sit down, but since it isn’t really the day after Thanksgiving, you don’t have to eat out to avoid Uncle Harry or Aunt Mildred.
Though the sandwiches aren’t thick, they are surprisingly filling, and each comes with a side: bagged potato chips, crunchy sweet coleslaw, deliciously soupy macaroni salad, or red bliss potato salad pleasantly spiked with bacon.
The Betta Ham and Chedda ($6.99) was on a large ciabatta. This rectangular roll with a crusty floured exterior and a spongy interior was spread with a sweet and tangy honey mustard, and held a single layer of ham. You wouldn’t know it to taste, but the sandwich also had cheddar cheese. This extremely mild cheese was overwhelmed by the mustard and salty ham. While the honey mustard saved the sandwich from boredom, a sharp cheddar would have made it outstanding.
Bold, seeded, marbled rye slathered with hickory honey mustard housed chunks of ham and a hearty slice of Swiss cheese for the HoneyBaked Ham Classic ($6.49). A simple combination, with lettuce and tomato, this sandwich truly was a classic.
When I saw the name “Smothered Clucker” on the menu ($6.49), I am embarrassed to admit that I giggled a little. We ordered it, of course, and though the menu says it is served hot, it was cold, with that mild cheddar again superfluously sitting unmelted on top of chicken salad. I did like the chicken salad, though, rich with hunks of chicken and large crunchy celery sections. The brown bread was dense and yeasty, like a good European bread.
A special seasonal menu offering, the Turkey with Apple Butter Mayo, was a truly delectable treat ($6.99). Served on a pretzel roll that wasn’t salty or crusty, but nevertheless delivered great pretzel flavor, it encompassed thick wedges of turkey, a slice of Swiss cheese, lettuce, tomato, and a sweet, yet hearty apple butter mayo. It may only be early September, but this was a welcome taste of autumn.
And since I was in the autumnal spirit, I couldn’t resist taking home a frozen, fully-baked Pumpkin Cinnamon pie ($8.99). This lovely little harbinger of fall needed only be reheated in a 325 degree oven for 30 minutes.
Right out of the oven, it was greasy and wet, but as it cooled, the pie took on a consistency closer to your average pumpkin pie, while remaining lighter in texture. The flavor was intense, the heat from the cinnamon highlighting the earthy pumpkin and raising it to a caliber above many other store-bought pies.
My mother, who shared a slice with me, is pretty much the best pie maker I know. One taste of this pie, and she said, “I know what I am bringing to Thanksgiving!”
She had high praise for the crust, which she said was impressively flaky for being frozen. I detected a slight smoky taste in the crusty layers, with just the slightest twinge of ham flavor. Strangely, this only added to the pie’s depth. It was really delicious.
Finally, I bought a half pound of ham by the slice ($6.75) which was plated inside a gold foil zip locked bag. Spiral cut, bumpy, and about a ¼ inch thick, the meat was salty and savory. They make a big deal about the glaze, but I couldn’t taste much of it, as it rimmed the edges only. We ate some for dinner, and then made sandwiches the next day. Again, all the benefits of a holiday, without any of the drawbacks: no preparation, no mess, no Uncle Harry.
HoneyBaked Ham earns 4 out of 5 Whisks for delicious, hearty sandwiches that taste like a holiday.
Second Helping of Information
Location – 20 Park Ave., Willow Grove
Hours – Monday through Friday, 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Saturday, 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Sunday, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Phone – 215-657-8720
Website – www.honeybakedtotherescue.com/index.htm
Reservations – Not available