Sandwich Week moves to the suburbs

I’m working from home today, so I took the excuse to enjoy a reasonably nearby deli recommended by Twitterer @kde3183, who goes by Kimberly and from now on, also, “hero.”

The sandwich: The Fed Ex from Firehouse Deli, 265 Mill St., Greenwich, Conn.

The construction: A soft, round roll — this is important, because it wasn’t like the typical “hard roll” you find at most delis, it was closer to a challah roll — with chicken cutlet, bacon, cheddar and barbecue sauce. I’m pretty sure it was Open Pit, which is a tangy, tomato-based barbecue sauce that is wildly underrated.

Important background information: To get to Greenwich I had to drive through Port Chester, which appears to entirely consist of delicious-looking South American restaurants, plus at least one chili place. Remind me to go back there to try one of the Brazilian places. Also, do Brazilians have sandwiches?

Anyway, it was lunchtime and I was hungry, so this Sandwich Week entry required a triumphant feat of perseverance. I wanted to stop so many different places, but I soldiered on to Firehouse Deli because it had been recommended to me and because, after a series of adventurous sandwiches, I yearned for something a little more familiar.

And I want to say, everything about the Firehouse Deli experience was excellent. I hear “Greenwich” and I think one thing, but this was not that thing. It was no-frills not in the pretentious Lower Manhattan sense, but in the good, old-school deli that’s probably been there and been popular forever sense. The walls were lined with menu boards listing various delicious-sounding sandwiches and the employees were clearly knowledgeable and skilled sandwich artisans.

What it looks like:

How it tastes: Oh, lordy. I knew this was going to be good when I saw the guy drop several strips of chicken cutlet into the fryer after I ordered. That’s just tremendous, for a couple reasons. First, fresh-fried chicken, or fresh-fried anything, for that matter, is always going to be better than something that’s been sitting under a lamp in a chaffing dish all day, and it is an exceptionally rare deli that fries its chicken cutlets to order.

Second, the fact that the cutlet was cut into strips instead of one big piece was really promising. I’ve been saying this all week and longer: Surface area. Really can’t stress that enough.

I ate half the thing in the car because I didn’t want to waste the opportunity to eat such freshly fried chicken, but the thing was still steaming hot. It took me about 20 minutes to get home, but the sandwich was still warm and delicious by the time I got here.

The cheddar cheese was cheddar cheese, now melted from the heat of the chicken. The barbecue sauce, as mentioned, was the tangy, delicious too-red sort with a peppery kick to it, the type I like best. My only minor quibble is that the bacon, for some reason, didn’t really stand out. It was adequately crispy and definitely there, but I guess it was overwhelmed by all the other flavors. Still, it was bacon. That shouldn’t be overlooked.

What it’s worth: More than $6 and a half hour in the car, which is all it cost me. I’m not willing to call this sandwich “life-changing” because I’ve had bacon, cheddar and chicken sandwiches before, and the combination — even with the barbecue sauce — is hardly original. But the Fed Ex delivered (I apologize).

While it’s hard to mess up a sandwich with those elements, Firehouse Deli knocked their version out of the park. I can’t compare it to the Full Bird because my fond memories of that sandwich cloud my judgment, but the Fed Ex was comfortably as good as any fried chicken, bacon and cheese sandwich I’ve ever had. And I have had so, so many fried chicken, bacon and cheese sandwiches. Like more than you could even conceive.

The rating: 92 out of 100. I can’t say for certain that this was better than the Sloppy Bao — they’re such wildly different things — so I gave them the same grade. The Fed Ex is not flashy or even particularly original, but it is nonetheless remarkable and should be celebrated. Staid in its execution, broad in its appeal, and undeniably excellent, it is the David Wright of sandwiches.

9 thoughts on “Sandwich Week moves to the suburbs

  1. whats your stance on the french dip? I’ve always felt it can be delicious when well prepared, but can be awful (for example I’ve had one where they actually cooked the meat, again… awful).

    • Just really depends on the roast beef, right? I’m not sure there’s a deli meat with greater variation in quality. Good, rare roast beef is incredible. Crappy roast beef tastes like leather. And if the place roasts its own, you could conceivably end up with delicious and terrible roast beef from the very same roast, depending on how far along it is.

  2. Ted,

    I can’t recommend a place for this, but I’d recommend trying (even if you make it at home) a chivito. It’s the Uruguayan national dish–a sandwich consisting of a small steak fillet wrapped in ham, bacon, cheese, a fried egg, and lettuce. Some people also add a tomato and/or green olives. You might have a heart attack, but it’s worth it.

    Menupages says Tabare in W-burg has one, but I’d just do it at home were I you. I was recently in Uruguay and had one (http://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/hlxm_6aNiMla_2cWg4yG0A?feat=directlink), and I heartily recommend it.

    Cheers,
    Seth

    • That sounds like an excellent sandwich. Decent thread about their availability in the New York area here. There were a bunch of South American places in Port Chester, like I mentioned. I didn’t notice any Uruguayan ones but I should probably investigate further.

  3. Next time you gotta get the wedge…its HUGE…good for two meals…i’m a fan of getting the wedges on the way to the stadium and tailgate with the best, unpretentious sandwiches ever.

    • Yeah, the wedge was tempting but I’m trying not to die of a heart attack midway through sandwich week. If I wasn’t planning on eating another sandwich yesterday, I probably would have gone wedge.

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