Café Sabarsky has long been the best reason to visit the Neue Galerie on 86th and 5th with more than semiannual regularity. Now Sandwiched makes a similar case for the Whitney at 75th and Madison. Below are a few impressions of a first visit.
To begin with, Sandwiched reminds me of early stage ‘wichcraft. More specifically, it reminds me of ‘wichcraft when Craft, Craftbar and ‘wichcraft formed a contiguous restaurant sandwich of their own. In the early aughts, well before boredom, Bravo and massive replication stole what little soul ‘wichcraft once had, Tom Colicchio seemed poised to do for the sandwich what he had done for fungi and pork belly at Gramercy Tavern. Now his energy is turned towards upscale restaurant redemption in the Meatpacking district, so someone else must take up the sandwich mantle. Enter Danny Meyer, the new Earl of Sandwich.
So how does the Sandwiched popup stack up to its big chain competitor? Here the price point is marginally higher than at ‘wichcraft, but the ingredient quality and combinative creativity is measurably better. We know what Tom has done, now we get an answer to the eternal Foodie question: “What would Danny do?”
To find out, I went with the diner standby of an egg sandwich when my turn to order came up. Give Danny an egg challenge and he gives you the best bite on this stretch in quite a while, a Knoll Crest egg (fried) with bacon (yes, they were somehow tastily blended together), bibb lettuce, cheddar curds and crushed tomatoes. It was exactly as good and pedestrian as it sounds. In other words, it is a fresh and tasty egg sandwich on superior Pain de Mie roll, and for 8 bucks it is the best of its kind in an unkind neighborhood, a game changer in a neighborhood with no game.
More promisingly, it’s the dullest option on a menu that will reward repeat visits. Floyd Cardoz, Kenny Callaghan and Carmen Quagliata had far more interesting inventions on offer, but they didn’t fit into my brunch hour egg plan. Also, I have to admit I balked at what was likely the best choice, a Daniel Humm chicken schnitzel with truffle-celery slaw, in part because it cost 15 dollars. Now 15 dollars in Danny-landia is a well-leveraged chunk of change, especially across the street from the kleptocrats at Sant Ambroeus and down the street from Eli Zabar’s 15 dollar egg salad sandwich, but I’ll need to wait ’til payday to put the chicken after the egg. In the interim, I’ll chew on my chocolate mint Nancy Olson brownie and think about how much better this neighborhood has now become for food fans.