Between the Bread, Part 2

I am obsessed by bread—the smell of it, the taste of it—in pretty much any form. Warm toast with melted butter and marmalade? I’d love some.

Breakfast strata with spinach and gruyere? Don’t mind if I do. Banana bread pudding with whipped cream? Of course! Thanks for asking.

But perhaps bread reaches its highest purpose as the basis for our favorite grab-and-go, the sandwich. These are not your basic peanut butter and jelly sandwiches; they are works of edible art.

Man might not live by bread alone, but combined with artisan meats, cheeses and vegetables, he could definitely get by!

Here are my favorite sandwiches for 2011, a second installment of my first “Between the Bread” sandwich roundup:

Hardcore Carnivores

The Bagel
Old School Reuben: They’ve been making it for years, so they might know a thing or two. Sliced lean corned beef, sauerkraut and melted Swiss on grilled rye with Thousand Island dressing. It still works.

Bop n Grill
Cubasian: Their funky riff on the classic Cubano, with soy-braised pork carnitas, panko-crusted fried pickles, smoked bacon, Provolone, and yellow mustard all grilled up on French bread. Totally worth the EKG.

Mickey Finn’s
Skirt Steak a la Pancho: A little spicy, a lot yummy. Marinated, grilled skirt steak on a French roll with spicy pesto, grilled onions and peppers and blue cheese. Mmmm good.

Real Urban BBQ
Burnt-End Brisket: It sells out every day, so you know it has gotta be good. Bite-sized chunks of double-smoked beef brisket on good old-fashioned white bread; add a side of coleslaw and slather on some extra BBQ sauce. Heaven.

Poultry Lovers

DC Sarnies
Kentucky Hot Brown: Down-home country style. Best-quality white bread stacked with sliced turkey, tomato, and bacon, all smothered in a Romano cheese sauce. Old-fashioned goodness.

Fraiche
Club: This is my go-to sandwich, and Fraiche really does it up. House-roasted turkey, bacon, tomatoes, Swiss cheese, pickled red onion, black bean guacamole, herbed aioli and honey mustard on toasted sourdough. Somehow it all hangs together and fits in your mouth. Don’t ask me how.

Union

Chicken Milanese: Just the thought of this sandwich makes me salivate. Chicken breast, pounded thin, breaded and sautéed, topped with onions, pickled radishes and Calabrian chili aioli on kickass ciabatta bread. Abbondanza!

Wildfire
Chicken Artichoke Melt: Simple, but oh so tasty. Sliced roast chicken, marinated artichokes, spinach, tomato and Swiss cheese combine to make a beautiful sandwich.

Seafood Fans

Acre
Smoked Whitefish: Really unusual but worth going rogue. Smoked Lake Superior whitefish on rye with pickled cabbage, tender pea shoots and a spicy remoulade. Different in a very good way.

DMK Fish Bar
Lobster Roll: The classic, made fresh daily. Chunks of Maine lobster, folded into a celery mayo and served on a split toasted bun. Much cheaper than a flight to the Atlantic coast.

Townhouse
Cured Salmon: A Jewish grandma’s nightmare: Ducktrap vodka-pepper cured salmon, dill cream cheese, tomato, cucumber, lemon-chive aioli … and smoked bacon, all stacked on multi-grain toast. Oy!

Vigilant Vegetarians

Barrington Country Bistro
Grilled Cheese Savoyard: I’m a sucker for a good grilled cheese (wait … is there such a thing as bad grilled cheese?), and this one’s a beauty. Boursin and Swiss cheese layered with pickled veggies and kumquat-red grape marmalade, griddled on good country bread. It’s like a formal cheese course all in one bite.

Cheesecake Factory
Grilled Eggplant: They bill it as “incredible,” but I for one am not surprised that veggies can taste this good. Grilled eggplant, roasted red peppers, red onion, fresh mozzarella and garlic aioli on toasty bread. Very filling.

Lucky Platter
Grilled Portobello: It’s the great vegetarian hamburger. A huge grilled mushroom is topped with goat cheese, crispy onion rings, lettuce, roasted red peppers, cucumbers and chipotle mayo on an eggy bun. Juicy and savory, just like the real thing.

Photo credit: DC Sarnies Hot Kentucky Brown sandwich