The Best Sandwiches: Part 3
Given the culinary genius in Boston, we thought a good sandwich would be a cinch to find. So off we went, gobbling up more than 30 contenders. We deconstructed, then reassembled, them, taking into account bite radius, meat distribution, and overall dimension. And what did we learn? That finding the perfect sandwich is like rediscovering a lost art. From old favorites to new classics, edible escapes, and a few chefs’ secrets, here is our ultimate guide to the best.
PART 3: THE GUT BUSTERS
Peanut Butter, Banana & Honey Elvis Presley could, reportedly, if not somewhat disgustingly, eat up to 15 peanut
butter–banana sandwiches in one sitting. If he were alive, he’d surely be stuck on the masterful version at Rachel’s Kitchen: Two slices of white or wheat, buttered and grilled, serve as a base for a generous heap of melty, chunky peanut butter and artfully placed bananas. Considering the whole thing is super-glued together with a drizzle of honey, we suggest beginners take theirs with a glass of milk. Fit for the King, indeed. $4, Rachel’s Kitchen, 12 Church St., Boston, 617-423-3447, www.rachelskitchenboston.com.
Hot Dog May’s warm weather ushers in a call for hot dogs—eaten at Fenway Park, straight off the backyard grill, or, more unusually, at affordable French haunt Petit Robert Bistro. Chef Jacky Robert’s Paris-inspired version—a juicy hamburger in the shape of a long hot dog covered in melted cheese on a crusty baguette—is served open-face, with ketchup and mustard. Close the sandwich and it’s impossible to cut with a knife, which is good news for purists who (rightly) balk at using silverware to eat a hot dog in the first place. $6 (available for lunch only), Petit Robert Bistro, 468 Commonwealth Ave., Boston, 617-375-0699, www.petitrobertbistro.com.
Meatball Parmesan Sub It’s hard to imagine a bad meatball sub. How could meat molded into balls, plus bread, plus sauce and cheese equal anything but gastronomic goodness? That said, the uncomplicated ingredients and construction don’t disqualify it from being the kind of sandwich made truly great by only a select few. Take Bob’s in Medford: Its jumbo sub is an impossibly large, tasty combination of those three essential ingredients, encased in a wonderfully complementary roll. $6, Bob’s, 324 Main St., Medford, 781-395-0400, www.bobsfood.com.
Fresser’s Delight Kosher delis are known for supersizing their sandwiches, but Brookline’s Rubin’s Deli stuffs the competition. The Fresser’s Delight is a monster, testing gastronomic limits. This mountain is prepared hot or cold with a full pound and a quarter of your choice of three meats. The corned beef is tender and the turkey so moist it practically melts. If that isn’t enough, this two-fister is flanked by no fewer than four half-sour pickle spears plus coleslaw and potato salad. $21.99, Rubin’s Deli, 500 Harvard St., Brookline, 617-731-8787, www.rubinskosher.com.
Rachel Coleslaw differentiates the Rachel from its more common cousin, the Reuben, but what a difference a little raw cabbage can make. This sandwich begins with either turkey pastrami, corned beef, or, for those who live large, full-fat pastrami layered onto light, marble, or dark rye, then grilled along with Swiss cheese, Russian dressing (optional), and, of course, the aforementioned slaw. Natick’s Joan & Ed’s Deli makes a simple Rachel that’s well worth the trip. $6.25 to $8.75, Joan & Ed’s Deli, Sherwood Plaza (Rte. 9), Natick, 508-653-4442, www.jedeli.com.
Breakfast Sandwich At her new North End eatery Volle Nolle, Olives alumna Torri Crowell has given the McMuffin an epicurean makeover. The cozy storefront’s version features an expertly fried farmer’s egg, melted Parmesan and American cheeses, and maple-smoked bacon or spicy chorizo (a nod to the Portuguese heritage of Nolle’s partner, Armando Galvao). Those ingredients rest on a five-cheese English muffin from Woburn’s New English Muffin Company, which touts two types of Swiss, cheddar, Monterey jack, and Parm. A quick turn on the panini press adds crispiness. $3.75, Volle Nolle, 351 Hanover St., Boston, 617-523-0003.
Sin Sandwich It feels almost wrong, ordering the Sin sandwich at Hi-Rise Bread Company. The bakery is so suffused with wholesomeness that even the sweets on offer seem virtuous. And there you go and indulge in the one debauched item available: two slices of buttery brioche topped with a dollop of Nutella and slabs of Valrhona chocolate, grilled to gooey perfection, then doused with powdered sugar. Be warned: You will get at least one ingredient on your face, which will make the more disciplined Cantabrigians glance at your snack with a mix of scorn and longing (especially if you’re having one for breakfast, we’ve found). And when they do—well, that’s when you’ll know you made exactly the right choice. $8.75, Hi-Rise Bread Company, 208 Concord Ave., Cambridge, 617-876-8766; 56 Brattle St., Cambridge, 617-492-3003.
Ice Cream Sandwich The ice cream sandwich can run from clean and simple to downright decadent. At Kenmore Square’s Great Bay, pastry chef Karen Gondoly goes decidedly upscale with her trio of ice cream treats. The centerpiece is a square stack of spicy Wu-wei (black tea) ice cream flanked by a homemade blondie. Circular sandwiches sit on either side: one with Meyer lemon and coriander ice cream between thin pistachio and Meyer lemon meringues; the other, a bracing sangria sorbet framed by dark chocolate wafers. Don’t be daunted: Every last bite is extravagantly delicious. $10, Great Bay, 500 Commonwealth Ave., Boston, 617-532-5300, www.greatbayrestaurant.com.
Coming up in Part 4: Edible Escapes.
Reported, written, and eaten by Cheryl Alkon, Jane Black, James Burnett, Blythe Copeland, Sascha de Gersdorff, Alyssa Giacobbe, John Gonzalez, Christie Matheson, Lena Watts, and John Wolfson.