Snack Attack: Staff Meal’s Cassoulet Sub at River Bar
For those who were heartbroken when Staff Meal retired its food truck (it was a victim of the early days of the trend, before the city got hip to mobile eats): An old menu favorite has returned to the area.
This winter, River Bar is serving the former food truck’s classic cassoulet sub, a meat lover’s dream filled with duck confit, house-made garlic sausage, and white beans. Executive chef Patrick Gilmartin, who cofounded Staff Meal, revived the sandwich for his latest seasonal menu.
A riff on the traditional French dish, “It’s exactly what you would get if you asked a French chef to cook you a chili dog,” Gilmartin says. “It’s a potent, meaty, and garlic-y sausage sub that is, in every way, heartier than its large size suggests.”
Gilmartin says the sub was one of Staff Meal’s first big hits, and it properly established what he and cofounder Adam Gendreau had set out to achieve with the business—turning high-brow cuisine into street food.
The easiest way to accomplish that is to turn something into a sandwich, Gilmartin says. Even better, that format made it replicable.
“Whereas Staff Meal is fine-dining distilled down into street food, River Bar’s concept runs the opposite way,” he says. “The sub just fit the bill going in either direction.”
Despite that flexibility, Gilmartin doesn’t see the sandwich as a River Bar mainstay. He tries to avoid putting the same dish on multiple menus to uphold variety—Gilmartin is also executive chef at the Independent—and the sub’s dense nature makes it best enjoyed during the colder months, he says.
But while Staff Meal is no more, Gilmartin has incorporated ideas from the food truck’s menu in other ways. For example, Staff Meal’s fried chicken skins occasionally pop up as specials at the Indo. Both Somerville restaurants also use the food truck’s original chorizo recipe.
Gilmartin says he’s heard positive feedback from Staff Meal regulars over social media on the sub’s comeback, so trek up to Assembly Row and revel in the food truck’s return yourself.
$14, 661 Assembly Row, Somerville, 617-616-5561, river-bar.com.