7. The Comfort Food of the Moment Is Sandwiches.
Forget about custom-blend cheeseburgers, fried-chicken platters, and faux-Neapolitan pizza pies. These days, it’s messy, nourishing, high-end sandwiches that retro-comfort-food freaks get worked up about. There are all sorts of good reasons to visit Gabriel Stulman’s diminutive, recently opened Japanese-themed Chez Sardine, in the West Village, but the best one, at this early stage, is the sinfully delicious foie gras–and–grilled-cheese sandwich that chef Mehdi Brunet-Benkritly constructs with Québécois foie gras and melting slabs of smoked New York Cheddar. If you’re a seafood connoisseur, you won’t be disappointed with the fat, $16 fish sandwich stuffed with Montauk fluke and messy spoonfuls of rémoulade at Back Forty West in Soho. The sandwich my pork-hound friends can’t stop nattering about is the $14 monster that the accomplished Swiss chef Ralf Kuettel sells out of his excellent new pork-centric sandwich stand on West 24th Street, Rocket Pig. And if lamb is your particular addiction, I suggest you book a lunchtime table at Alison Price Becker’s neighborly new Flatiron establishment, Alison Eighteen, where executive chef Juan Carlos Landazuri braises a lamb shoulder for an hour in its own juices, crisp roasts it on a spit, then serves it in fat, melting slices between thick slabs of aïoli-slathered olive-oil bread.
At Mile End Sandwich Shop, the new Noho outlet of Noah Bernamoff, Rae Cohen, and Max Levine’s expanding deli empire, the counters are jammed at lunchtime with a motley assortment of plaid-shirted hipsters and salivating hedge-fund pastrami fiends wolfing down iconic sandwiches, like the play on that Buffalo roast-beef specialty, beef on weck, and the delicious house fried-green-tomato sandwich, which Bernamoff leavens with crunchy pickled vegetables and an elegant schmear of blue cheese. There are all kinds of inspired, postmillennial deli creations on the menu of Jeffrey Chodorow’s improbably polished experiment in nouveau American Jewish cuisine, Kutsher's Tribeca, but the dish I can’t get out of my head is that old reliable, the Reuben, which the wise deli men in the kitchen build with slabs of thick, decadently fatty deckle-cut pastrami. The chicken parmigiana on a semolina roll is still my favorite sandwich treat at Rich Torrisi and Mario Carbone’s seminal haute Italian deli counter, Parm, and whenever I seek a corrective to all the greasy, overpriced, overhyped haute burgers around town, I slip off to The Dutch in Soho for a taste of the uncannily realistic Green Label veggie burger, which Andrew Carmellini makes with mushrooms, black beans, rice, and an edifying mash of purple, improbably beefy-looking fresh garden beets.