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Home Is Where the Cheese Steak Is 

If you're a hermit like me, you'll appreciate Pat's Deli. Out of the way, quiet and just like your grandma's house, it's a great place to escape from the world for a bit and reclaim some of your sanity, not to mention soothe your pulsing nerves with good eats.

Located in an old house on the corner of Nevada and Cheyenne Road, Pat's is set back from the road, behind the McDonald's. It's been there forever, this rambling house/ restaurant seemingly out of place in the midst of the surrounding development. I've driven past it a million times during the past few decades, but never stopped in until a friend suggested I check it out. Had I known what a cozy place it is, I would have escaped to Pat's long ago.

The big front yard, complete with a gazebo, offers a great place to cop a squat and enjoy a sandwich, once this maddening snow crap ceases. There are tables in the side yard, and a couple of cats lie in the parking lot, flicking their tails and glancing about ambivalently. Walking in the front door is a trip -- you're first confronted with a fireplace; the counter and cash register is off to the right, through an archway. Pat's doesn't feel like a restaurant at all; it feels like you've just walked into a stranger's living room.

Huge blocks of cheese and fresh salamis sit in a glass refrigerator case, next to a cart sporting a veritable cold salad and pie smorgasbord. Amy takes your order (make up your mind quick or she'll make it for you, she says with a smile) and then asks you to tell her Mom, Gloria, what you got and she'll ring it up for you. This is no easy task if you're a sub head, because with all of the good-looking food in front of your face, your hunger renders you useless in making menu decisions.

If you can't decide between pastrami or barbecue beef, white or wheat, I say just get the cheese steak -- and make sure you get the hot pepper cheese ($4.90). Quietly flavorful at first, the more you eat, the more your mouth begins to tingle. By the end of your eight-incher, you've built your way up to a nice burn, particularly in the mid-tongue region.

Pat's has some fine soups and salads as well. In secure quarters, I love potato salad. But when I eat out, I'm wary -- I've heard too many stories of it just being a cover dish for old veggies that restaurants don't want to throw away. It has to be really good for me to scarf it away from home. Happily, Pat's is not only fresh but it's got good texture, big chunks and is not too mustardy. Their soup, though not made fresh in their kitchen, is tasty too. According to Amy, you've got to get there early for a bowl, because the boys down in Motor City usually end up ordering the whole pot. I tried the Chicken Dumpling soup ($2.75 for a bowl), and it was rich, not too salty, and creamy -- a fine, frothy brew.

Beyond the homey, old-fashioned dcor, the staff at Pat's -- a friendlier group of people than you could ever hope to meet -- perpetuate the eating-at-Grammie's experience. They've opened up their kitchen to you, and it's the least you can do to come on in and sit a spell.

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