The club (aka: clubhouse) sandwich is a mainstay of diner fare, but did you know that the sandwich, consisting of bacon, white meat chicken or turkey, ripe tomato, and fresh lettuce, maybe well over 100 years old? A prevalent theory places its first appearance in 1894 at the Saratoga Club-House, an exclusive gentlemen’s club located in Saratoga Springs, New York. This club also originated potato chips.
The oldest written recipe for the club sandwich comes from the Good Housekeeping Everyday Cook Book, by Isabel Gordon Curtis, which was published in 1903. The recipe describes the club sandwich as a “whole meal” sandwich that consists of slices of dry (yet tender) bacon, a slice of chicken or turkey white meat, a slice of ripe tomato, half a tender leaf of lettuce, a “generous” layer of mayonnaise, and two slices of buttered toast.
According to James Beard, American chef and food writer, the contemporary multi-decker version of the of the club sandwich emerged during the 1930s on double-decker “club cars” of multi-car passenger trains. However, Chef Beard doesn’t see the three-decker version of the club sandwich as authentic.
These tidbits of culinary history come from the What’scookingamerica.net entry on the rich history of the club sandwich. Speaking of history, if you’re going to partake of the club sandwich, why not enjoy one in a diner setting, like the 60’s style diner in the Wellington Village, Fil’s Diner?
According to its website, Fil’s Diner opened its doors in August of 2000. It is located in what was once the seating area of the West Park bowling alley. Its decor and menu are consistent with the 60s theme: checkered tile floor, high back booths, chrome edged furniture, hot dog platters, chicken finger baskets, steak sandwich platters, beef liver meals, and classic burgers. The “classic” platter on Fil’s menu is the club sandwich platter and it is one damned good platter
Consisting of fresh roasted chicken (not chicken loaf), fresh Boston lettuce, fresh tomatoes, dry cooked bacon, and two pieces of toast, Fil’s club sandwich goes back to the classic non-tiered format. It is served with a generous side of made-to-order fries and a dill pickle. The combination of tender and juicy slices of white meat chicken, savory mayonnaise, crisp lettuce, sweet tomatoes, crunchy bacon, and toasted bread provides excellent flavor and texture contrasts.
Just one thing: Eat your sandwich quickly. Mayonnaise only provides a temporary barrier against the moisture rich tomatoes and lettuce. Soggy toast does not make a good sandwich.
At $9.99, Fil’s club platter is an economical way to enjoy a well crafted classic sandwich in 60s nostalgia.
1205 Wellington Street W.
Click here for File’s Diner’s website