All sandwiches are not created equal.
There is no more satisfying portable lunch than a ‘wich: eaten on your lap on a park bench on those spring days when you cannot bear to eat at your desk; brought in the car as you steal away to the country; stashed next to a cold bottle at the bottom of your beach bag and nonetheless warmed by the sun and sand when you break it out and eat it with salty wet hands under the midday sun. I am a lover of sandwiches in general and turkey sandwiches in particular, and after years of sampling I can conclusively say that despite the trends and the hype, there is one sandwich shop in New York that I love best and reigns as most delicious, satisfying and consistent: The Original Sandwich Shoppe (or TOSS) on Greenwich Avenue.
Okay, sure, it didn’t hurt that a guy I had a crippling crush on in 2001 took me there for the first time, but it’s the homemade daily roasted turkey, herbal mayonnaise (made from scratch!), and Arnold Palmers that have kept me coming back. Due to issues with its lease, the shop closed for about nine months in 2004, and I could hardly bear to walk past its storefront, void of the fresh-baked smells and good-natured owner and staff who have been there forever. This is an old, family-owned West Village establishment, from the days before there were five Marc Jacobs stores and three Ralph Laurens.
There are no wrong choices on the menu; all the sandwiches are delectable. But MY Sandwich—which for all intents and purposes we can call the Tarajiawich—is Fresh Roasted Turkey (light and dark meat) on Rye Bread, with Herbal Mayo and Whole Grain Mustard, Lettuce, Tomato and Brie. They will toast the bread for you. They will warm the turkey meat. The Brie will ooze gently into the tendrils of pulled turkey. It is warm. It is heaven.
For those of you who have an allergy or aversion to carbohydrates, The Original Sandwich Shoppe’s salads with freshly chopped crisp Romaine, avocado, cucumbers, carrots, tomato, roasted red peppers, pickled onion and feta cheese, doused in their secret vinaigrette, will satisfy any hunger.
Here’s the thing about sandwiches: the difference between a truly great one—in which every bite is a symphony worth savoring, and a mediocre, run-of-the-mill ‘wich—where you are lucky if there are several nuanced flavors in each bite, depends on the freshness, variety and temperature of the ingredients, but equally important is whether the sandwich is made with love.
Yup, love. I learned this from a lady who used to make sandwiches at Garden of Eden (the overpriced, pseudo-gourmet food store in Chelsea that I was forced to occasionally shop at before Whole Foods took over). I used to try to time my ordering so that it was she who would make my sandwich, simply because hers tasted so much better than the ones the other guy made. One day I asked her why, and she said, with barely a moment’s hesitation, “Because I make them with love.”
So there you have it. Sandwiches made with love (which I understand as care and thoughtfulness of how the sandwich’s disparate flavors will hold together on the eater’s tongue) taste better than sandwiches shoddily slapped together. Shocking.
The Original Sandwich Shoppe – “T.O.S.S.”
58A Greenwich Ave, New York 10011
(Between 6th & 7th Ave at Perry Street)