|The sardine sandwich was never high on my list of gourmand delicacies until I sampled the one at Bread, a new sandwich parlor in NoLIta. It's built on a fresh baguette from the Balthazar Bakery, with tomatoes and big silvery Sicilian sardines, all bound together with a slather of Thai pepper mayonnaise. It's on the menu along with brick-size bruschetta loaded with basil and plum tomatoes, and other mildly odd sandwich combinations like wedges of ciabatta with prosciutto, Danish butter, and mozzarella, or white Mediterranean tuna with lemon-mint dressing. Here the sandwich contents tend to melt together in a precariously messy fashion; gobble them too quickly and the whole structure becomes unhinged, like a proper sandwich should.
That's true, too, of Douglas Rodriguez's bountiful, un-tapas-like veal-brisket sandwich at Pipa (smothered in mushrooms and caramelized onions on a toasted baguette), and, to a lesser degree, of the pressed hanger-steak slider concocted by Scott Ehrlich at Wylie Dufresne's new storefront diner on Clinton Street, the AKA Cafe. The slider comprises tender marinated steak, creamy pickle relish, and a bialy, squeezed in a sandwich toaster. It's roughly the size of an English muffin cut into tiny halves, so order several (if you add up the entire dinner menu at AKA, the grand total comes to $84, including a superior oyster soup and delicious pork-and-ginger empanadas), then consume them with your friends, in little bites, like tea sandwiches.