Samwich

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Photo by Tina Garceau

Several years ago, Mayor Michael Bloomberg of New York wanted to impose a tax on oversized soda. To make a point about good nutrition, Jon Stewart, then the host of “The Daily Show,” pulled a large piled-high corned beef on rye out from under his desk.

Too much of a good thing is bad for you.

Building a proper sandwich is not always correct. There must be a ratio of bread to meat, cheese, fish or vegetables. The good people at Samwich do it right.

Located at Sixth and Catharine streets, the sandwich shop has been open for a few months. I love and appreciate a good sandwich. I began to crave the fried chicken version after seeing numerous enticing photos on Twitter.

The spot is small with limited bar seating. A long table runs along the wall. Samwich also does a brisk take-out business and is also a fine spot for families.

The menu features sandwiches, salads, side dishes, and beverages, with a number of vegetarian options as well.

Spinach salads have been popular menu items for about 40 years. The ingredients have evolved as each chef tosses his or her ingredients together for a fresh starter. The spinach salad at Samwich ($9) consisted of immaculately fresh baby spinach tossed with pieces of crisp bacon, tangy bits of Gorgonzola, and spicy slightly salted pecans tossed in a homemade Dijon honey dressing. The balance of flavors was inspiring; salt, sweet and creamy blue cheese from Piedmont, along with the tang of honey mustard, was a delight to eat. Diners can add chicken for $2 or shrimp or steak for $3.

If patrons want a specific sandwich minus the bread, the chef will kindly oblige. The chickpea sandwich ($7.50) consists of a bed of mixed greens with tomatoes topped with pureed chickpeas that were mixed with the right touch of mayonnaise laced with coriander and lemon juice. It was Samwich’s version of hummus. I liked the inclusion of coriander in the mix, as it added a bright flavor. If guests want the sandwich version, it comes on a multi-grain roll.

I had never tasted a fried chicken sandwich. I’ve tried grilled chicken on a bun, but I had a hunch Samwich’s fried chicken sandwich ($11) would be tasty.

A boneless chicken breast was brined in buttermilk. According to the menu, a secret blend of herbs and spices is added to the breading. After the dredging of the chicken, it is deep-fried to a golden brown. Pepper jack cheese, crisp bacon, and thin slices of sweet and sour pickles topped the chicken for added flavor and texture. The sandwich arrived on an onion roll. The ratio of bread to chicken was spot on. The sandwich was a bit messy to eat, but that was part of the enjoyment. A choice of sides is on offer. I picked homemade tater tots because I feel like a kid when eating them. They were creamy inside, crispy outside, and almost as good as the ones served at Jones.

The pastrami grilled cheese ($10.50) was a tasty twist on the classic Reuben. Housemade pastrami was piled on Texas toast and topped with nutty flavored Gruyere, one of my favorite cheeses, sharp cheddar, and homemade thousand island dressing, and simply grilled to perfection. As with the chicken sandwich, the ratio of meat to cheese to toast was just right. I think I prefer this sandwich on Texas toast rather than rye.

I am not much of a soda drinker, but we wanted to try a Boylan’s ginger ale ($2.50). It had a bright ginger flavor and was not overly sweet. Like Dr. Brown’s, Boylan’s makes cream, black cherry, and a few other classic sodas sold in delis throughout the country.

Samwich is a charming casual restaurant that is moderately priced. Homemade chili lime popcorn comes with all sandwiches. We took a child’s delight as we listened to the pop pop pop of the popcorn in the pot behind the counter. All it needed was a whisper of salt.

Three tips of the toque to Samwich. ■

Samwich

600 Catharine St.

267-457-5977