Unassuming and delicious
I generally don’t like surprises. I don’t like surprise birthday parties or when people show up unannounced or any other time that life leaves me blindsided. But every now and then, I get surprised and love it.
Last night, Flaneur and I had to be at a friend’s place in the West Village at 7:30. It was 7:10 and we were right around the corner from her apartment but since we were going to a show and hadn’t eaten dinner, we wanted to grab something quick, lest we get stuck with growling stomachs till close to midnight.
“Let’s just go here,” I said, pointing to a corner sandwich shop whose name I hadn’t even read.
Inside, a large black chalkboard listed mostly salads and sandwiches, all vegetarian and a few vegan, along with a few coffeehouse drink and pastry standards.
Brie, pear and arugula
We quickly decided and gave the bandana-clad girl behind the counter our order: Brie, pear and arugula sandwich with raspberry mustard for Flaneur and roasted vegetable Panini with arugula and goat cheese for me.
The ingredients all sounded good enough but I wasn’t really expecting anything great. I mean, no preparation had gone into this on my part. I’d never seen this place (whose name I later found out from the menu was ‘sNice), no one had recommended it, I had never read a review of it, and until five minutes earlier I had no idea it existed at all.
But then, I was oh so pleasantly surprised. Pleasant actually, is too soft of a word. I was surprised in a great big awesome “WOW! This is friggin’ great” kind of way.
Our sandwiches arrived via a scruffy, t-shirt-and-glasses wearing waiter and right from the start I thought, “Oooh! These look good!”
Roasted veggies, goat cheese and arugula
Each one came with a leafy heap of salad—nothing crazy, just some good spinach and radicchio, carrot shavings and a vinaigrette dressing. The sandwiches were beautiful, served on thick baguette-style pressed loaves. The cross section of mine boasted bright colors of roasted red peppers, zucchini, yellow squash, shredded raw cabbage, arugula and creamy white goat cheese. Flaneur’s, though slightly less colorful, showed off deep green arugula, creamy beige Brie and crisp off-white pear slices.
After swapping halves so we could try both, we got to grubbing. What these vegetarian sandwiches offered in good looks, they then tripled in taste. One bite into each of our respective choices we both stopped and looked at each other , totally surprised by just how delicious these sandwiches were.
The goat cheese in mine offered a perfect tanginess to go with the soft, roasted vegetables. Combined with the warm crunchy bread, this sandwich had me hooked. The Brie and pear combo was just as delicious, and fun to eat too. The smooth creaminess of the Brie, the slight crispness of the pear, the subtle sour zing of the raspberry mustard and the crunchiness of the bread made each bite better than the last, and made the last bite one to make you wonder why oh why do good things always have to come to an end?
We wolfed them down in part because we were in a hurry but mostly because those unexpectedly amazing sandwiches were just too good to put down. Now if only all surprises were this enjoyable.