East Hampton Sandwich Co. is a Real Looker
It doesn't matter what you call them — sandwich, sammich, hoagie, hero, grinder, shawarma, gyro, or the newly truncated (and upsetting) sando — the union of meat and bread, bound together in caloric portability, is one of the greatest unions in the world of food.
The mere mention of a sandwich is enough to trigger a Pavlovian response in anyone, whether they are starving or stuffed. Offer one more plate of turkey and cranberry sauce to a living room full of tryptophan-fatigued Thanksgiving guests and you'll hear groans of displeasure. Offer them the same thing between two slices of white bread? Done.
Even if you're just back from lunch these words will seduce you. Close your eyes and have someone with an attractive voice read them aloud. Ask them to do it slowly: "Imagine two pieces of sourdough lapped with grill marks as a foundation for meaty beef short ribs cooked so tender you could spread the fat like soft butter. Next add a multilayer blanket of simple cheese that melts like a dream after waking, and horseradish cream sauce because decadence is best in extreme excess. Temper salty with sweet caramelized onions, which might have been a vegetable once, and to further embellish the lie you're weaving (the one that says it's OK to eat this), throw on some arugula to make things at least seem healthy."
This nocturnal emission is the brainchild of Hunter Pond, a law school dropout who was not seduced by torts and grievances but instead had sandwiches and dollar signs in his eyes. At 25 he's young to be operating his own start-up sandwich shop, but he and his partner, Will Stroud, have hit the ground running. Together they're making some of the best sandwiches you can buy right now in Dallas.
Pond got his start with the Spillers Group, bouncing around the stations at Eno's, washing dishes, working the line, sitting in on business meetings and learning the ins and outs of the biz. When he thought he had the hang of things — just four months later — he set his sights on his real goal, opening East Hampton Sandwich Co.
While the Spillers Group may be known for their fried chicken on a bun and a decent Italian beef, Pond cites a sandwich he ordered at R&D Kitchen for planting the seed of his idea. "The sandwich was something unbelievable," he said as he described pulled pork, avocado and coleslaw served on a house-baked bun he wolfed down during a family outing.
Pond talks about sandwiches like an artist, using terms like height, color and texture to describe the fundamental elements of his creations, but ask him about his true inspiration for the project and his youth returns: "I just want to focus on making kick-ass sandwiches that are beautiful to eat and taste good, I guess."
That hot cheese and short-rib number is a looker for sure, arriving on a plate suitable for dinner service and flanked with perfectly fried potato chips. Handling, however renders the sandwich a hot mess. It's a shameful thing to consume in public, but you'll do it, caked napkins in hand, grease on your chin and a dollop of horseradish cream in your lap.
For those with a greater sense of decency, the roasted chicken sandwich is comparatively pious and served on a warm roll with a roasted red pepper aioli. Cooks in the kitchen toss fresh roasted chicken in a Meyer lemon vinaigrette. Celery, greens and thin slices of watermelon radish render a sandwich that's almost too beautiful to eat, and then you'll wonder where it went.
The Cuban couldn't be any further from a cubano if it were a Kennedy. The pork is roasted to strings, it's missing mustard and the finished sandwich isn't pressed, but it's delicious. In fact it may even be one of Pond's best creations. He should call it pork + ham, to keep the sandwich purists at bay. Or pork two ways. I hear that's trendy these days.
The roast beef is comparatively bland, but chef Ozzy Samano should be commended for roasting the meat gently to a sinfully rare doneness. A little salt would wake this up nicely. If you agree, you could tuck a few of those potato chips under the bun. Actually you should probably do that with each and every one of these sandwiches.
These aren't Lays, of course. Pond and his team worked hard at perfecting something that many casual restaurants attempt and fail. While other kitchens turn out oily chips with uneven browning and a less-than-addictive crunch, East Hampton's chips are consistently crisp and well-salted thick disks of potato. Betcha can't eat just seven. Thankfully they're served on every plate with a custom sauce paired for each sandwich.
Of course sandwiches this sultry come at a cost. The cheapest on the menu will set you back $8 without meat, and a lobster roll will clip your wallet for $16. Throw in a beer and some sides and you can drop 40 bucks easily on lunch for two.
This is University Park, though. And if you'd like something a little more budget-conscious, you could easily drive to Jersey Mike's. Subway has some economical options too.
Fast food sandwiches don't provide more value, though, they're just cheap. Sandwiches should be something to be celebrated and heaped with excess. While East Hampton's sandwiches may not be good enough to evoke joy and rapture, they're more than good enough to appeal to a deeper, more carnal desire — a craving we should all indulge now and then.
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