How ya doin', buddy?
Sacramento, CA 95814
I have to confess: I’ve never been all that much of a sandwich girl—an aporia in my gustatory repertoire traceable to a problem I have with mayonnaise. (Namely: I don’t like it.) I can, however, get with a lunchtime sub every now and again. They’re generally filling, portable and convivial, in that everyone can order at a counter, at your average deli, and pay for their own without any wrangling over the check. In other words, they are the ideal lunch for these slightly difficult times. You can even buy one and bring it with you to eat in line while you’re making your run on a failed bank.
Even if you’re not waiting for the FDIC to come through with insured deposits, a cheap lunch may beckon at Midtown’s The Sandwich Spot. Right now, it’s the only one of its kind—though its Web site and its front windows nudge customers to ask about ownership opportunities. (Thanks, buddy, but I’m just here for a sandwich.) The storefront is surprisingly cute, with stained glass and carved molding and a homey porch set into the ground floor of an older home, and there are plenty of tables inside.
The ’wiches are nothing new-style or modish—you will not find panini here, and while there is prosciutto, it is misspelled (proscuitto) and, I’m willing to guess, not from Parma, Italy. Instead, these are big, hefty, layered jobs that have your basic deli meats and cheese and mostly come with everything: secret sauce (a garlicky-oily-herby compound), mayo, mustard, pickles, peppers, tomatoes, lettuce and onions. You can build your own, but the attraction here lies in the list of relatively innovative combinations, both warm and cold. They are named, mostly, for Sacramento things, and some are more innovative than the average deli combos: the Governor has hot turkey (hee!), cream cheese, avocado and “bomb sauce”; the Manwich has hot pastrami, roast beef, salami and choice of cheese (yikes); the Sac Town has marinated chicken, barbecue sauce and jack cheese.
I personally went—perhaps slightly traitorously—for the Sac Bee. (Hey, with two sandwiches named for local media, how about pandering with an SN&R sandwich? I’m just saying.) I had them hold the mayo and some of the other stuff, as the combination of marinated chicken (spongy and bland), cheese (I chose pepper jack), avocado and bacon (sadly, extremely limp) already had plenty going on. The oily secret sauce soaked into everything, the wheat roll was yeasty and fresh, the avocado was perfectly ripe and mashed into celadon perfection and the lettuce was bright and crisp. With better chicken and crisp bacon, that would be one slam dunk of a sandwich—but even so, it was somehow more than the sum of its parts.
Similarly, my friend’s rather unfortunately named Big Slick—hot turkey, cranberry and cream cheese—seemed basic, but somehow the dull deli turkey, the sweet-tart cranberry sauce and the tangy cheese were assembled with care and added up to more than met the eye. The sandwiches, in short? Winners.
Pretty much, though, The Sandwich Spot has sandwiches, sandwiches, and—lo and behold!—more sandwiches. Sides, drinks and desserts are unremarkable at best. Drinks come in a big cooler next to the cash register (they couldn’t pony up for a soda fountain?) and include Snapple, Dr Pepper, root beer and water. The same cooler contains little tubs of potato salad and macaroni salad. Both are pretty bad and all-too-obviously come from some kind of mass-produced vat somewhere, but the macaroni salad is a little better. It’s flecked with red peppers and has discernable macaroni pieces lightly coated with mayo, unlike the homogenous, lumpen potato salad, with its weirdly butter-yellow hue and its stodgy texture. So, if you are someone who feels your lunch isn’t complete without a side of fatty goop coating some bland carbs, go for the macaroni salad.
When it comes to desserts, your options are similarly limited: There is a little basket labeled “Andy’s Cookies” at the ordering counter. “Who’s Andy?” I asked, and the woman behind the counter—friendly and pretty chatty, like all of the employees I dealt with—replied, “Oh, he’s a guy who lives down the street.” That didn’t really enlighten me as to why he was making giant $1.50 chocolate-chip cookies, but hell, I like a cookie, so I bought one. Just crisp at the edges, it was soft and chewy in the middle, with a nice brown-sugar flavor and that fleeting, faint cookie-dough grittiness.
I like Andy’s way with the dough, but if I could say one thing to him it would be this: Step it up with the chocolate quality. Those cookies could be monstrous with some stronger-flavored, better chocolate. Anyway, though, if you’re in the mood for serious dessert, I suggest you stroll to Mochii Yogurt. You go to The Sandwich Spot for—duh—sandwiches, and while they’re not the fanciest in town, they’ll fill you up and taste pretty good, and there’s nothing wrong with that.