Well, sorry that it’s so late in the day. I had a lot going on … but, I wanted to get this up today. We are fast approaching the half-way point in the Atlanta Sub & Sandwich Tour. To date, there have only been a couple of strong showings. Luckily, today’s lunch at Sawicki’s marked another successful meal.
The trek to Decatur was a bit more adventurous than I would have hoped. Apparently, Atlanta drivers are under strict orders: if it rains – make sure you disobey every traffic law possible! That aside, the laid back attitude and fresh ingredients at Sawicki’s left me optimistic for the meal. Their sign, “Eat Good Food,” says it all!
Sawicki’s is a butcher shop that sits in the heart of downtown Decatur. In addition to meats and seafood, Sawicki’s serves up a decent number of onsite meal options. You will find ten ever present sandwich options supplemented by a handful of daily specials.
Much like the Elliott Street Deli, Lynne Sawicki knows her limits. Every morning, she picks up some fresh bread for her pad. Her source for the grains is Alon’s Bakery so it is no surprise that her shop scores pretty well in that department. Oh yeah, with an extra mouth to feed today, it was only fitting that we sampled three of the options
Sandwich 1: Roast Pork Sandwich
Ingredients: Roast pork, fried lemon, pickled red onions, & aioli on a pressed baguette
To date, this may have been the best sandwich on the tour. The pressed baguette was simply dynamite. The crust had the perfect amount of crunch to it and none of the flavor was lost by the heating of the sandwich.
By extension, the pork was freaking AWESOME! It was perfectly cooked and offered up a sweet and moist bite … each time! I appreciated that some of the fat was left in the sandwich; too often, I see sandwich shops cast the tastiest part of the meat aside for fear of retribution from the health nuts. The meat was prepared in house, so bonus points for that.
The fried lemons and the pickled onions offered up the ideal balance to the soft texture of the meat. As a flavor combination, they worked equally as well. Aesthetically, this sandwich had it all. Topped off with the perfect amount of aioli, the roast pork sandwich was a flat out hit. We loved it so much that we made sure to encourage the owner’s to make it a fixture on the menu.
Sandwich 2: The Veggie
Ingredients: cucumbers, tomatoes, avocado, artichoke hearts, field greens, & hummus on ciabatta
Sawicki’s take on a veggie was a welcomed change from previous examples on the tour. No roasted peppers or eggplant on this sucker! I must say, it was an appreciated curve ball. Overall, this sandwich has some excellent qualities. Even Lady Chow, who will furrow her brow and growl at the very thought of using precious stomach space got into this sandwich. However, it was not absent of fault.
Let’s start with the good. The quality of the vegetables was superb. All of them were bright, crisp, and showed up as excellent representatives of their respective vegetable genus. Even the tomatoes tasted better than one would expect this time of year.
The avocado was so fresh that it almost mushed into spread form as I ate the sandwich. The hummus was a prime example of how to balance tahini, olive oil, and lemon juice. I would suspect this was not made in house; regardless, it was damn tasty!
By the time my sandwich went from looking this to looking like this, I had become curiously intrigued by my lunch buddies’ behavior. The bread from this sandwich had been caste aside with extreme prejudice. I saw her using a plastic fork to transfer the food from table to mouth. We both agreed: the bread was just too chewy. While the flavors were fine, this ciabatta bread was far too dense in the middle.
But, the “after” photo from the previous paragraph demonstrated the main shortcoming. In case you missed it:
After just a couple of bites, the sandwich was destroyed. The bread fell apart and the entrails went everywhere. It was a glorified mess. While there are certain sandwiches that you expect to be this way, a veggie on ciabatta is not one of them.
The sloppy construction and chewiness of the bread aside, this was still an example of solid grub.
Sandwich 3: Genoa & Soppresata
Ingredients: Genoa, hot soppresata, finnochiona, fontina cheese, marinated Italian vegetables, & tomatoes on ciabatta.
Of all the sandwiches we sampled today, this was the most disappointing. When the ingredients were sampled individually, things were fine. The assembled sandwich, however, was not as appealing. Each ingredient was high in quality but the flavor composition was a failure.
Sawicki’s used a mature fontina in this sandwich. Fontina has a high milk-fat content; as a result, when you take this type of cheese and age it a bit longer, the creamy/nutty flavor becomes more pungent and intense.
Now consider the three cured meats. All three are an “alpha pork;” that is, they carry with them a good bit of salt. The use of the meats with that cheese necessitated subtlety in the remaining ingredients.
That didn’t happen. There was a substantial amount of olive tapenade in between the proteins and the bread. So we have strong ingredients topped with even stronger condiments. The resulting sandwich made my tongue twinge a bit. All in, this is still a decent sandwich. However, when you consider the fact that the bread was chewy and that the other sandwiches were so good, I wonder why this sandwich [which is available every day] was not more carefully thought out.
Conclusions & Notes:
As you may have guessed, this was easily one of the highest scores on the tour. The two lowest rated categories (the grains & the condiments) were far from failures. One of the inherent shortcomings of this tour is that we don’t see what a sandwich maker can do day in and day out. Even so, the starting point at Sawicki’s is good enough that even an off day, I’d bet you could do a lot worse.
Tour Ratings (Explained Here)