I cook for myself a lot and I go out to eat sometimes, but what I never do, is grab a sandwich. And that’s a shame, because I love a good sandwich. Consequently, I had developed a backlog of sandwich shops that I’ve been meaning to try and have never gotten around to. I decided to do something about that a couple weeks ago and, oh man, was that the right decision.
The first place I went was No. 7 Sub, mostly because it’s so close to my office. It’s located in the too-cool-for-school Ace hotel, which also houses Stumptown (drool) and The Breslin (double drooooool). There’s no signage outside, but you can spot it from the people milling about outside around lunchtime. Inside it’s standing counters only and hipsters in I ❤ Bacon shirts (which is cool with me because I also heart bacon; bigtime).
The menu is bizarre with incredibly intriguing combo’s like General Tso’s Tofu (Tofu, seaweed, edamame and pickles) and Broccoli (Fresh Mozzarella, Thai Basil Pesto, Fried Lemon). Sometimes I think my brain may have tourette’s because when I went to order I ended up with Eggplant parmesan, which is so far from my style, I don’t even know what to say about it. Guys, this thing had fried eggplant, fontina, yellow squash, pickled jalapenos and….wait for it….BBQ POTATO CHIPS on it. I know. I mean, I don’t know. geh. It was strangely, strangely delicious; I ate the whole thing and regretted it for hours, literally. The wait was a bit long (20 min around lunch from in the door to out) and the sandwiches moderately priced (~8$), but the bottom line is that if they could make something that good out of something so gross sounding, I’m definitely going back. But maybe for the tofu.
Next on the list was Porchetta. I. Love. Pork. Honestly, if I was forced to choose one animal to eat for the rest of my life, it would be the pig-Bacon, ham, prosciutto, pancetta, and all the unmentionable, delicious parts. Porchetta is a tiny east-village store front that makes one thing, and only one thing, really really well…Porchetta. There’s nothing fancy about this place; there are a few counters with stools on which to sit inside and a couple of benches in a little fenced-in, 5’x4′ “yard” in the front. As you walk in, front and center are the slow cooked rolls of pork loin and belly, salt, and herbs.
There are a few options, but I, of course ordered the Porchetta sandwich. It doesnt get any more pure for a pork lover like me. The sandwich, pictured at top, is simply perfectly tender, juicy porchetta, including the crispy skin, on a perfect, chewy ciabatta roll. That’s it. The pig is so tender is melts in your mouth; until you hit a crunchy piece of skin that is absolutely worth the tired jaw you’ll have in the end. The primary herb I tasted was rosemary and, as that’s my favorite herb, I had no complaints. I also had to try the crispy potatoes with burnt ends (obv), since these are essentially home fries with crunchy delicious pork skin mixed in. Honestly, I couldnt have asked for a simpler, more satisfying meal. My only complaints were that the pork itself could have used a tiny hit of salt and the prices are a bit high (10$ for a not too large sandwich); but neither of those will keep me from returning…over and over and over and over…
My final stop on my great sandwich tour of ’10, was Baoguette. Now ok, I’m behind. The city-wide banh mi obsession of a couple of years ago completely left me in the dust and the few banh mi that I have had have been underwhelming at best. Baoguette is one of a chain of restaurants serving these things throughout the city and I heard they were pretty good. As it turns out, I have wasted years of my life that I could have been consuming these. I’m ashamed.
So, for the uninitiated, a bahn mi is a Vietnamese sub sandwich consisted of a whole slew of ingredients layered up into one perfect sweet-savory-spicy-vinigary-crunchy package. The layers can vary, but they inevitably involve cilantro, thinly sliced cucumbers, pickled daikon/carrots, mayonnaise, and some sort of protein, usually paté and pork sausage (though you can get tofu versions).
I’ve mentioned before that I’m a sucker for the sweet-salty juxtaposition when it comes to food. My favorite chinese take-out is mushu pork, so it’s no surprise that this sandwich, with its meaty innards coated in what had to be a hoisin-based BBQ sauce, was everything I could have ever wanted. No, really. The crunchy picked veggies and herbal cilantro cut the rich meat perfectly. This sandwich has every texture and flavor group so that it manages to excite your entire palate. The best part? 5$! and that’s an expensive one as banh mi go. I’m so sad that it took me so long to find out what I was missing. Luckily, baoguette is walking distance from work AND I live in a city that is overrun with banh mi places. I think I’ll have to do another post when I find my favorite one.
***I refuse to compare these places; they’re horses of different colors***
No. 7 Sub
between 28/29th Streets
New York, NY 10001
110 E 7th St.
between 1st/Ave A
New York, NY 10009