I could eat a sandwich for lunch every day for the rest of my life and never get bored, so when I heard that the Whitney museum was calling its new pop-up café Sandwiched, I circled the opening date on my calendar, set a reminder on my iPhone, and studied the restaurant's menu like I was prepping for the SATs.
Well, yesterday was the day, and despite Mother Nature's best efforts to keep me inside, I bundled up and trekked through the snow-slush all the way up to 75th Street. I felt a little shallow telling the ticket guy I was skipping the art and going directly to the café (the launch of the pop-up coincides with the opening of the Whitney Biennial), but my lunch hour is only so long, and a I've gotta have priorities, right?
Aside from two soups, two salads, and a few snacks (chips, a muffin, a yogurt-nut mix), everything on the menu is a sandwich of some sort: eight savory options (ranging from the very basic PB&J; to the more advanced chicken schnitzel with black-truffle celery slaw and gruyere on a toasted brioche), and four dessert options (gourmet takes on things like the fluffer nutter). Being the brainchild of Danny Meyers's Union Square Hospitality Group, Sandwiched has a ridiculously talented pool of chefs at its disposal, and several of them have contributed to the menu. Gramercy Tavern's Michael Anthony created the heritage ham & sharp cheddar sandwich, for example, Union Square Café's Carmen Quagliata came up with the cured salmon, avocado cream cheese, cucumber, and radish option.
I went for the Knoll Crest egg sandwich, which comes with thick-cut bacon, cheddar curds, bibb lettuce, and tomato marmalade. And because I knew I'd have eager taste-testers in my coworkers, I ordered two of each dessert to bring back to the office. I should have eaten the sandwich right away—it's served hot, and by the time I made it back to the office it was merely luke-warm. But even in that state, it hit the spot—though I question their choice of bread (they serve it on a soft Pain de Mie roll; I think it would be better on something with a little more texture, like a nice ciabatta). And the dessert sandwiches were a hit with the Budget Travel crew. As a fan of all things from Maine, I wanted to love the Lemon Whoopie Pie, but I found it a little too cleaned up—I prefer the obnoxiously oversized, cartoonishly puffy versions from up north. But the fluffer nutter—a fresh-baked peanut-butter cookie with marshmallow fluff and thinly sliced bananas in the center—and the intense chocolate brownie with a mint-cream center were both just right: refined, but not overly precious.
Will I go back? Absolutely. And next time, I'll even make a little time for the art.
945 Madison Avenue, at 75th St. Open through Fall 2010.
Hours: Tuesday–Thursday, 11 a.m. –5 p.m.; Friday 11 a.m. –8 p.m.; Saturday & Sunday 10 a.m.–5 p.m.; Monday closed
Savory sandwiches from $5.50, dessert sandwiches from $3