The death of John's Revenge: Matt's Memo

The Retreat, Liverpool, NY.

This is the story of the death of John's Revenge. For the uninitiated John's Revenge is not a battle from the Civil War. It's not the end result of a lingering dispute on a schoolyard playground. It has nothing to do with Montezuma. No, John's Revenge was much more. It was the single standout item on the menu at The Retreat in Liverpool over the last 25 years.

John's Revenge was a Panini before they became popular. John's Revenge was a glorified grilled cheese with a few mouth watering twists. It was rye bread, pastrami, melted cheese with slices of pepperoncini. That hot pepper gave the otherwise mundane sandwich the kick and its name.

I learned the tragic news of the demise of my dear sandwich this week while visiting The Retreat for lunch with my parents and longtime family friends returning to Central New York from out of town. As often happens when you have a visiting guests, the moment the menu arrives at the table the conversation turns to what do you recommend. I immediately began to talk up John's Revenge when I was quickly interrupted by my father who broke my lunch-eating heart. He said it was no longer on the menu.

I expressed my regrets to the group. I felt a sense of loss. I had to look at the menu with my own eyes just in case there had been an oversight. It was nowhere to be found. It was not listed under appetizers or soups. It was missing under salads and burgers. It was absent from its longstanding home under the banner - sandwiches. John's Revenge was gone.

The waitress returned asking for our orders. Before anyone could offer what they desired to eat today I delivered my full throated objection to the loss of a dear friend. The waitress mustered a smile and admitted John's Revenge was no longer. She could not offer a reasonable explanation. The owners were the same. The chef was the same. But, the menu had changed with the times.

John's Revenge was gone in favor of something called a Carolina Pepper Jack Chicken Pretzel. Why does everything these days have to come on a pretzel roll?

You know the old saying "revenge is a dish best served cold". Even a cold John's Revenge found somewhere in the back of the refrigerator would have welcome on this day that ended an era.


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