The sandwich's humble origins date back to 1762. The Fourth Earl of Sandwich (Kent, UK) really liked to eat beef between slices of toast. It allowed one free hand for card playing, so as not to interrupt his gambling.
Since then, the sandwich has matured into a food group all its own -- the omnipresent meal, available anywhere and everywhere. Here are three new places dedicated to the art of the sandwich.
Two chicks and a meat slicer
Upholding the traditional East coast concept of a sandwich is a new delicatessen on 21st Street in the Plaza 21 Center. A Flavor of NY Deli has been open about four months, established by "two chicks from New York."
A Flavor of NY doesn't offer the deli atmosphere I know and love -- well-tread carpets and worn-in booths, loud conversation and frenetic energy, assorted salamis hanging from the ceiling. But in this almost deli-free town, who needs aesthetics when you have a good sandwich and a fine selection of Dr. Brown's sodas and Yoo-Hoos?
The hot corned beef sandwich ($5.95) stands out, served warm on kosher rye, with a pickle and a side of either homemade potato salad, macaroni salad or coleslaw. The corned beef is lean, sliced thinly and warmed to just the right degree, making the bread warm, but not soggy.
Overall, this small place boasts a decent deli sandwich list, including pastrami, roast beef, turkey and chicken breast, three different types of salami (hard, beef, Genoa), homemade egg salad and tuna salad, as well as ham (cappy and deli) and liverwurst, and the deli case offers a respectable assortment of meats, cheeses and homemade salads, available by the pound. Nestled in there are various pies, cheesecake and huge slices of tiramisu ($2.50-$3.50).
Good things come in small packages
The Cottage on Kiowa provides a tad more genteel sandwich and dining experience. Inhabiting the downtown space formerly occupied by the Rolling Pin Bakery, this place is tiny -- a counter with three stools, and three tables varying in size -- with good neighborhood atmosphere, conducive to conversation with a friend or a stranger.
Lunch consists of homemade soups, salads, sandwiches and wraps, with daily specials. On one cold and damp day, the special was chicken salad on a croissant, with a cup of spiced carrot soup ($5.29) that you could smell as you walked through the door. The guy sitting next to me to commented that I looked like a spiced carrot soup person so I ordered it and found it excellent and generous in portion, as was the chicken salad, made fresh with chunks of white meat, celery, walnuts and slices of green apple.
If that meal sounds too delicate, go the manly route like my counter buddy. He had the shaved ham and cheese (grilled upon request). Or choose from smoked bratwurst, roast beef, or a turkey bacon and Swiss combo ($3.95-$5.49).
The menu offers two different wraps, chicken Caesar or grilled veggie. The veggie ($3.99) is quite tasty, stuffed with a grilled assortment of squash, mushrooms, carrots, olives, peppers and onions. And in the early a.m., there's a breakfast sandwich -- scrambled eggs with cheese and your choice of sausage or bacon (or neither) served on a soft, oversized biscuit.
Deenz, situated in the ever-growing Southgate Shopping Center, specializes in salads and gargantuan sandwiches: Regular ($6-$6.50), large ($8-$8.50) and wow! ($10-$10.50). Served on hoagies, that translates to six, eight or 12 inches worth of pure sandwich.
Seven choices are each named after a city. The Denver, with a choice of chicken, beef or a portobello, is a tasty combo of provolone, onions, peppers, mayo and horseradish sauce, lettuce and tomato. Hard to say what these ingredients have to do with Denver, but the sandwich is good.
The Philly is self-explanatory in relation to its city of origin. In the cheese steak tradition, beef, grilled onions and a choice of cheddar sauce, provolone or Swiss, are all melted together in a hoagie bun. Not a bad-tasting sandwich, but I expected it to be packed with more meat and onions, perhaps even peppers, and a whole lot messier. This is a Philly for beginners.
The Genoa, on the other hand, is a multi-napkin extravaganza with a main ingredient of portobello mushrooms. Mixed in are sauted onions, hot peppers, spinach, olive spread and balsamic vinegar. Melted provolone holds it all held together, but the bun could not contain the overflow.
All sandwiches are served with a choice of slaw, potato salad or an abundant basket of fries or onion rings (75 cents extra).
Sandwiches have come a long way since the Fourth Earl discovered a clever way to simultaneously eat and gamble. He'd be proud of his legacy, but he'd have to succumb to two hands.