Published May/June 2009
Why do we love sandwiches? Maybe it’s because they transform our world of uniformity into one of many options. Really, the only unbreakable rule is that you employ two (or more) pieces of bread and put something between them.
It offers the kind of creative license that inspired Elvis to reach for peanut butter, bananas and a frying pan. With built-in portability and portion control, sandwiches are also the perfect warm weather on-the-go companion – order yours and head to the nearest park, pool or patio.
BLT: Merritt’s Store and Grill
1009 S. Columbia St. | 942-4897
At Merritt’s, a line forms outside the tiny kitchen every day, and three customers to one go for the famous BLT. The hardest decision may be how many layers to choose. A single layer has four slices of bacon, a double has six and a triple has nine. Yes, nine slices of thick bacon. Mmmmm.
There’s no secret formula to this BLT, just vine ripe tomatoes (which come from local growers in the summer), green leaf lettuce, salt, pepper and mayonnaise on toasted sourdough bread (or choose another type of bread, if you prefer). All orders are cash-only and take-out only, but heed manager Robin Dubeau’s advice on your way out the door: “You need napkins.” Messiness never tasted so good. $5.55 single, $6.65 double, $7.95 triple.
Lamb Tagine: Sandwhich
407 W. Franklin St. | 929-2114
At Sandwhich, the full-scale restaurant kitchen meets the humdrum sandwich shop, a union most evident in the Lamb Tagine. Inspired by his mother’s traditional Morrocan stew, chef and co-owner Hicham “Hich” Elbetri braises grass-fed leg of lamb in chicken stock, dry white wine and about 15 different spices – cardamom, cloves, tumeric and ginger among them. The result goes between two slices of Weaver Street Market’s focaccia bread, along with house-made juniper berry chutney.
In Morocco, the stew, which is named for the tangine pot it’s prepared in, is reserved for commemorating very special occasions. Flavorful and unique, Hich’s sandwich creation is truly something to celebrate. $11, with micro salad. Served Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.
The Manhattan: Neal’s Deli
100-C E. Main St., Carrboro | 967-2185
The first time I ventured into Neal’s Deli, the pastrami was sold out. After ordering the pastrami-based The Manhattan the second time around, I understood why.
The Manhattan features a quarter-pound pile of house-cured pastrami, as well as New York-style creamy coleslaw (made with locally grown cabbage), Swiss cheese and house-made Russian dressing on toasted rye bread from Guglhupf Bakery on Durham-Chapel Hill Boulevard. Before opening the deli in April 2008, owners Matt and Sheila Neal – who between them have more than 30 years of experience in the food business – spent time at such New York City delis as Katz’s (“Send a Salami to Your Boy in the Army”) and the uptown Carnegie Deli. Judging by The Manhattan, the research paid off. $8.50, with a pickle.
[Editor's note: LaRussa's has closed since this article was originally published.]
Displaced Northerners, homesick for their local Italian deli, will find solace in this sub and sandwich menu. Build your own with specialty meats and cheeses, plus your choice of breads, spreads and additions, or choose one of LaRussa’s specialty sandwiches.
Feeling right at home, Tony Soprano would likely order The Soprano with ham, Genoa salami, capocollo (spicy Italian ham), pepperoni, mortadella (Italian bologna with pistachio), provolone, oil and vinegar, lettuce, tomatoes and red onions – served on Italian bread, of course. $7.25 mini or $10.50 regular.
Lobster Roll: Nantucket Grill
5925 Farrington Rd.
1728 Fordham Blvd.
968-8900 | www.nantucketcafeandgrill.com
Down East comes down South at Nantucket Grill with the Fresh Maine Lobster Roll, a New England tradition that eases the challenge of tearing apart a lobster tableside by creating a cleaner, one-handed culinary endeavor.
Chilled Maine lobster chunks are mixed with Hellman’s mayonnaise and diced celery and served with Romaine lettuce and two tomato slices on an old-fashioned hot dog roll that’s buttered and grilled. Think of it as the rich man’s hot dog. The roll is almost hidden beneath the generous helping of succulent lobster. You can also order the lobster salad over a bed of lettuce. But by combining two warm weather staples, the hot dog bun and seafood, the Lobster Roll earns its spot as the perfect cold sandwich for summer. $12.49, with a side and a pickle.
Cheddar and Chutney: The Belted Goat
With the Cheddar and Chutney Sandwich, the grilled cheese reveals its mature side. One-third of a pound of white cheddar atop crisp ciabatta bread, made by The Bread Shop in Pittsboro, becomes delectably gooey hot off the grill.
But the heart of this sandwich is its mango chutney spread which adds the perfect sweet ending – definitely an upgrade from the slice of Kraft slapped between two pieces of Wonder Bread that we grew up on. $7.99, with a bag of Miss Vickie’s chips. CHM