Mermaids, fairies, unicorns, Sasquatch, swamp apes, goat-sucking chupacabras, Taylor Gourmet Deli – all of these fabulous creatures have attained near mythical status, sporadically become the topic of widespread interest, and are occasionally sought out in the wild by an intrepid few.
I’d heard wondrous tales of Taylor Gourmet’s Sandwiches, cobbled together from openly whispered secrets and
extraordinary rumors that speculated about the magic being conjured up behind the 4 devastatingly hip AND sustainable walls at 1116 H St, NE. So this past Tuesday (lured like a Greek sailor by the siren songs of “Risotto Balls”, “Bread Driven in from Philadelphia Daily” and “No Mayonnaise. Ever.” ) I stopped in to see for myself.
True to the photo spread featured in September’s Dwell magazine, the space is sublime. I’ll let you read the story for details about the space but suffice it to say they did a beautiful (and apparently low cost) job of differentiating the exterior and interior from the other businesses on the street. After placing my order I checked out their unusual selection of high end Italian pantry items in the market: pastas, olive oils, crackers, etc – plus a small but interesting wine section. (Not as interesting as yours truly’s of course – but really whose is 😉 They also have a freezer full of Dolci gelatos and a Boylan soda fountain. Very nice. My takeout order was ready in about 10 minutes (5 points for efficiency) then I was on my way – Holy Grail of Hoagies in hand.
At home we unwrapped a: “9th Street Italian” (salami, prosciutto, capicollo, sharp provolone); a “Sansom Street” (turkey, sundried tomatoes, sharp provolone); a “Broad Street” (chicken cutlet, broccoli rabe, sharp provolone); and an order of “Manayunk Mozzarella Sticks”. All the hoagies are dressed with lettuce, tomato, onion and an olive oil/vinegar/seasoning dressing. Through a variety of thinly veiled threats about what might happen to you should you ask for mayo or mustard on anything it is made quite clear “We DO NOT use any MAYONNAISE or MUSTARD. Ever.”
Since I am actually a Washington DC native, have been known to ask for mayo, and clearly know nothing about how a hoagie should taste, I left it to my New Jersey native husband to provide some background for the critique. Overall, we give it a B, we think that it is a good representative for sandwiches of this style. In his words, “this is about the same as what you would get at the Seabreeze Deli in Sea Girt” – which I guess is pretty much the point.
I think the winner was the 9th Street Italian, their version of a classic Italian style hoagie. They don’t overwhelm you with meat, which I like, since usually I end up taking off half the meat when I order a sandwich out. The meats and cheeses are of very high quality and the bread (couriered in daily from the famed Philadelphia bakery Sarcone’s) is flavorful and chewy. It bothers us about the bread, though. I get it about shipping in the deli meats, etc but can’t they find *anyone* locally they could source the bread from? Holy Carbon Footprint, Batman!! (Of course, we’re bringing wine from across the ocean — but it has less of a carbon footprint — at least in Washington, DC — than wine from California, believe it or not!)
The Sansom Street (turkey, sundried tomatoes) was kind of a mixed bag. We loved that they used regular roasted turkey but we got the dregs of the turkey that day. You know, the turkey crumbs and turkey dust left over after everyone else has been hacking away at the carcass for hours. We liked the Broad Street (chicken cutlet, broccoli rabe, sharp provolone) but after a few bites the broccoli rabe became too much for us. Next time we’ll try a different chicken cutlet combo – the cutlet itself was very nice, they do a good job with breading as also evidenced by the mozarella sticks. Their breading is crisp and spicy, albeit a little too thickly coated for my tastes.
So there will be a next time; I’d like to try the risotto balls and their pastina salads looked interesting. At the very least, I’m determined to find out what would happen if I asked them for mayonnaise on my #9! Or even better – Miracle Whip!
No recipe this week because if you’re in the area, you should try it out too! I’d definitely pair the 9th Street Italian with a light to medium bodied, slightly spicy red – like First Vine’s Cave TerraVentoux La Font Nouvelle Red (on sale now for $12). The wine is a beautiful purple color and has a tannin kick that goes very well and balances the spicy and slightly fatty Italian charcuterie — be sure to open it 30 minutes before serving.