Now, when it comes to a roast beef sandwich, I take a neutral stance. It’s not my go-to order, but I won’t shy away from one, either. When I arrive at Kelly’s, I know I must try its signature offering. So I order the recommended “three-way” preparation and throw in a cup of clam chowder for good measure.
The sandwich is loaded with thin slices of medium-rare beef doused in orange-y James River barbecue sauce with a slice of white American cheese and mayonnaise. Dion says that guests are welcome to ask for their roast beef to be cooked to a higher temperature if medium-rare is unappealing, but for me it’s perfect.
As I take my first bite, I’m struck by the tang of the barbecue sauce. As a southerner, I was skeptical of what a New England interpretation of barbecue sauce would be, but I’m satisfied by the vinegar undertones that are reminiscent of North Carolina ‘cue. The creamy mayonnaise and cheese round out the acidity and richness of the melt-in-your-mouth roast beef. It’s messy, but I’m dining alone, so no bother.
The clam chowder is done in true New England style, with a milky base, not a thick, cream-based roux. I am gobsmacked by how many clams are crammed into this small container, with just the right amount of potato to add some starchy bulk. Never in Sarasota have I come across a more authentic iteration of New England-style “chowdah,” and I imagine all the money I’ll save not having to fly north for one of my favorite soups.
Kelly’s Roast Beef is open 11am-9pm Sunday through Thursday and 11am-10pm Saturday and Sunday at 5407 University Parkway, Bradenton. For more information, call (941) 263-1911 or visit Kelly’s website.