Matt Cahn, who owns the Middle Child in the centre of Philadelphia, is known for his Surfer, a turkey sandwich with layers that lock into place thanks to careful consideration and seasoning. Toasted ciabatta bread is filled with melty Swiss cheese, spicy blueberry chutney, vinaigrette-dressed arugula, and homemade deli turkey. There is no dry meat in this sandwich, and the attention to detail in the flavouring is eye-opening.
You can’t just “wing it.” Mr. Cahn got the concept after eating a smoked turkey and Brie panini with blueberry jam at a sandwich restaurant in Maine, where he would often visit his ex-girlfriend during the summers. He made his own jam from wild blueberries he collected in the garden, and he gradually honed his own version for surfing excursions over the years.
The couple broke up, but Middle Child, the trendy sandwich business he started in 2017, has made a hit out of a sandwich inspired by their time together. There is a constant stream of customers, both young and elderly, waiting in line for the blueberry-slathered sandwich every day.
Mr. Cahn’s well-built masterpieces highlight the need of restraint, an often-overlooked aspect of sandwich construction. To rephrase, today’s most popular sandwiches have an emphasis on subtlety and flavour rather than bulk. Sandwiches that have been prepared with care and skill are nothing new, of course: Just in New York City, I can think of the defunct No. 7 Sub and Saltie on Court Street. However, they’ve never been better, or more accessible.
Palm City in San Francisco is known for its roast pork hoagie, which features fried provolone chips to provide crispness to the usually mushy meat. Their most popular sandwich, the Italian hoagie, has arugula instead of iceberg lettuce. Vegetarian sandwiches are on the rise, and a spice combination with tingly Sichuan peppercorns gives traditional ingredients like roasted cauliflower, avocado, and pickled veggies a new dimension.
Palm City was not supposed to be a hoagie deli when Dennis Cantwell and Monica Wong opened it in 2020. When the epidemic dampened their plans for a modest, family-run restaurant serving “small bites and fun wines,” they had to make some adjustments. The pair changed their minds, teamed up with a local bakery, and began selling sandwiches with the aid of their friend, chef and Philadelphia native Melissa McGrath.
They discovered that selling sandwiches was lucrative. Mr. Cantwell and Ms. Wong have discussed the possibility of establishing a satellite office.
Don’t confuse selection with scarcity at the recent influx of sandwich businesses. Food prepared with care and accuracy usually tastes great.
Breads at Cleveland’s Bake Shop & Cafe, which launched in 2021, are as precisely baked as the sandwiches they accompany. Do you want a turkey club or a curry chicken sandwich? Either is delicious on a baguette, croissant, or pain de mie. Naan is a client favourite, and it may be cooked fresh for you at your request. However, the cookie can be the most suitable choice.
When Shawnda Moye returned to Ohio from Tallahassee, Florida, where she had worked, she discovered that she could not get a decent breakfast sandwich, much less authentic Southern biscuits. She made light of her “walk of shame” out of a fast food restaurant while holding a biscuit sandwich.
She saw a need in the market and responded by opening the Roaming Biscuit, a pop-up restaurant that specialises on breakfast sandwiches, in 2019. After experiencing great success with the Roaming Biscuit line, she decided to launch the Bake Shop & Cafe in Cleveland’s Tyler Village.
A biscuit sandwich calls for extra moderation. The biscuit crumbles if you add too much of anything to it. The egg should be frothy, the cheese should melt sufficiently to bond, and the bacon should be thick cut and not “the skinny stuff,” as Ms. Moye put it.
That’s the path an actor takes to a regular role in a TV show.One thing you may learn from these stores is how to improve your own sandwiches when you go back home. In order to create space for the unexpected, it is frequently necessary to take a step back.
Think of a sandwich with tuna salad. You may add the standard assortment of ingredients (onion, citrus, herbs) to a can of tuna, or you can depend on a smaller set of more effective additives, which can truly make it shine.