I haven’t eaten a sloppy Joe since I was 9 years old, when they were an easy way for my mother to make a kid-friendly meal that appealed to my carnivorous father. Everyone at the table could customize their sandwich as they pleased. A blanket of shredded sharp cheddar, a scattering of diced onions and a few bread and butter pickles was how I rolled back then. But somehow the sloppy Joe fell out of our dinnertime rotation, probably because mom was trying to cut back on red meat.
The sloppy Joe is not a dish I’ve ever ordered in a restaurant, either. Why pay for something so simple that’s usually marked up so much? Lately though, several chefs have started to put their spin on the sloppy Joe. Would their versions be tasty and heartwarming reminders of my childhood or just creative ways to gouge a guy looking for a heartwarming reminder of his childhood?
My first step down memory lane was at BLT Steak, where executive chef Victor Albisu is offering the VP ($24), also known as the Sloppy Joe Biden. This is definitely not like the one mom used to make, since Albisu uses ground Kobe beef. Everything else in his recipe is pretty much the same: tomatoes, brown sugar, vinegar and bell pepper. The sauce has a thicker consistency so it doesn’t drip off the bun, and the flavors are spot-on. I won’t make a habit of enjoying a $24 sloppy Joe, but this one is worth the splurge.