Sandwich of the Week

I eat a lot of sandwiches. You probably know this, or at least suspect it. For a variety of reasons, I do not write about nearly as many sandwiches as I eat.

Sometimes I forget to take a photo. That’s one thing. I’m in a pretty good habit now of photographing most sandwiches placed in front of me, but plenty of times someone serves me something and either my phone is inaccessible, it doesn’t seem appropriate to pull it out, it’s too dark, or I’m hungry enough that I just want to eat the damn thing.

For another, sometimes I just don’t have anything to say about a sandwich. Many times that doesn’t stop me and I churn out uninteresting sandwich reviews anyway, but if I’m eating something very similar to something I’ve had before, it’s a good bet I’m not going to bother repeating all the same things. I repeat myself enough as it is without forcing it. #BlameBeltran.

There are also some guilt issues. This is among the reasons I can never be a proper food critic. I have no qualms about ripping a disappointing new menu item from Taco Bell or lamenting Subway’s quality of meat, but most of the sandwiches I eat come don’t come from massive corporations. And I don’t feel like it’s my place, without any real credentials beyond a few years behind a deli counter, to come online and criticize some guy’s sandwich-making skills to whatever audience I have based on my own tastes and a one-sandwich sample size. It takes so much effort to open and operate a deli or restaurant or food truck, and I’m not here to stomp all over someone’s life’s work because I’m disappointed with a single one of her sandwiches.

Which is all a long-winded way of reminding you that every sandwich reviewed here is, by my standards, remarkable — in that I have deemed it worthy of remarks. And for the most part, they come from the extreme right side of the bell-curve of sandwich-excellence.

I would say that sandwiches I rate in the 70s are worth eating if you have the opportunity. A sandwich with an 80 or above is delicious and worth going out of your way for. If many of the sandwiches reviewed here receive marks that high, it’s due to selection bias, not grade inflation.

I don’t know why anyone would want to hear about crappy sandwiches anyway. Sandwich of the Week is a celebration.

The sandwich: Pork sandwich from Rocket Pig, 24th St. and 10th Ave. in Manhattan.

The construction: Brined, spice-rubbed, smoked and roasted pork on a toasted ciabatta roll with red onion jam and mustard aioli. It comes with a small container of electric orange hot sauce.

Important background information: I am immediately suspicious of a pork-sandwich place called “Rocket Pig.” It seems aimed so perfectly and so directly at me that I worry it indicates either a) some sort of glitch in The Matrix or b) that there are enough people just like me that restaurants tailor their marketing efforts to us, and I’m just some drop in the ocean of my demographic. Both scenarios are concerning.

What it looks like:

How it tastes: Sweet. And gooey.

I mean this in the kindest possible way: The Pork sandwich from Rocket Pig tastes like what would happen if some talented chef armed with amazing ingredients were charged with creating a high-end sandwich interpretation of a Cinnabon. It’s so obviously and overwhelmingly indulgent that you’re immediately conscious of the toll it’s taking on your body. Other sandwiches, upon completion, might prompt you to think about the ingredients and ask, “Oh boy, what did I just do to myself?” From the first bite, this one makes you think, “Oh boy, what am I currently doing to myself, and why can’t I stop doing it?”

You can’t stop because it’s good. You love condiments, and this comes with three. All of them are sweet. On its own, the hot sauce has just a tiny bit of peppery heat, just as the mustard aioli has a hint of mustardy bite to it and the red onion jam some subtle earthy onion flavors. Together, though, those subtleties are lost in an astonishing tide of gooey sweetness.

The same goes for the pork, which is a shame. Separated from the sandwich, the pork tastes great. It’s appropriately fatty, just a little chewy, and smoky. On the sandwich — in that goo-tide — the pork flavors get sucked into the undertow.

The ciabatta roll is perfect. Its crisp outside provides the sandwich’s most pronounced texture, and it’s hearty enough to hold up under the considerable strain of the sandwich’s varied juices, greases and sauces.

What it’s worth: The pork sandwich from Rocket Pig costs $14.

It might be worth it. It might also seem emblematic of a doomed society drowning in its own excess if it weren’t for the lavender-glazed doughnuts available a block away. And you can try to fight the tide, waving your arms around and calling out in vain for help, decrying whatever series of events led us to sell and buy $14 one-note artisanal pork sandwiches, lavender doughnuts, and basically everything you can imagine stuffed with cheese. Or you can accept that regardless of the ramifications, this is a fascinating and — if you have the means to splurge on a $14 sandwich now and then — often enjoyable time to be alive, and surf this wave until it breaks. Subtlety and sensibility are for suckers, after all.

How it rates: 73 out of 100.

 

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