Superior Standoff

Where Superior Avenue meets AsiaTown, there's a great divide, as Vietnamese cuisine fans fiercely defend their favorite spot. Once simply a question of Superior Pho or #1 Pho, a couple new places recently arrived, including Saigon Grille. With just short of 100 items, the menu piqued our curiosity and made us wonder how it stacks up. The popular Vietnamese sandwich banh mi ($2.95) was a promising starter. Its large baguette, toasty yet perfectly soft inside, puts most sandwich-shop loaves to shame. The fillings, including juicy grilled pork, cool cilantro and cucumber, and intense peppers, didn't disappoint but, unfortunately, didn't cover the bread either. The house special vermicelli dish, #43 ($8.95), offered plenty of pork but just three shrimp. Still, the egg roll added crunch, and the carrots, cucumbers and lettuce created a colorful, complete bowl. Less satisfying was the pho duc biet ($7.50). The small serving was plenty for lunch, but the broth lacked the rich meaty flavor that makes pho a well-liked menu mainstay. Although some dishes are a step away from stellar, it's worth momentarily straying from your Superior Avenue standby to explore Saigon Grille's deep menu. Saigon Grille, 3142 Superior Ave., Cleveland, 216-589-9300.

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