Tour De HamDel, Stage II
Written by Bwog Staff
In which Bwog generalist Chris “The Frank Bruni of Amsterdam Ave.” Morris-Lent reviews the leftmost column of sandwiches offered by everyone’s favorite surrogate cafeteria, Hamilton Delicatessen (est. 1991).
Description: With a name suggestive of Al Pacino’s greatest performances and a variety of meats within its buns that would put even the most diversified of Sicilian slaughterers to shame, the Godfather is the ultimate cold-cut Italian-style sandwich. Ham, salami, and pepperoni explode like a car bomb with flavor, and the two varieties of peppers, sweet and hot, are a nice touch. The only problem is the excess of balsamic vinegar, enough to dissolve the mothballs in Marlon Brando’s cheeks, which soggifies the bun and overpowers the meats.
Description: The Godfather’s emigrante counterpart, the Americana substitutes the traditional meats of roast beef and turkey for The Godfather’s salami and pepperoni while adopting a more austere mix of veggies and cheese as well. The liberal drizzling of vinegar ensures that both taste largely the same, but I tired of eating the Americana far faster.
Description: My favorite of HamDel’s three untoasted sandwiches, the All Star consists mostly of roast beef and turkey while using the shady yet delicious “Russian Dressing” in place of vinegar. HamDel’s infamous and ubiquitous coleslaw lends the sandwich a slight sweetness. As often happens with HamDel, the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. There’s just nothing to criticize about the All Star.
Description: Moving on now to the toasted heroes, the Monte Cristo sports an ensemble cast of sumptuous ingredients – ham, turkey, bacon, and swiss, uncorrupted by any sauce and supported by a spartan complement of lettuce and tomato – but the experience left me yearning for more. Some extra cheese? An additional meat? The Monte Cristo is decent and the lack of sauce precludes the possibility of a sorrowful spillage, but it’s missing a certain X-factor that makes certain HamDel confections (the Mona Lisa or the E-Mail, for example) so delectable.
Description: There’s something internally consistent about the Fat Boy that’s lacking in most of HamDel’s sandwiches. The exotic meats of pastrami and corned beef are excellently complemented by the coleslaw and the Russian dressing, which in turn benefit from the textural counterpoise of the crunchy hero. The addition of American cheese is unfortunate; asking for provolone or swiss instead might be sacrilegous but necessary.
Description: The fish fillet at HamDel is weird, the juxtaposition with American cheese even weirder. I’ve always been suspicious of Atlantic seafood. Fortunately, the pungent tartar sauce carries the day, making the Jaws a not unappealing item, something I wouldn’t decline as a gift, but also not something I’d spend upwards of six bucks on. A number of misogynistic analogues come to mind.
Description: The Big Bird is an excellent sandwich, almost as excellent as the television show that starred its bewildered yet adorable namesake. The name is also evocative of the oft-overlooked cinematic masterpiece “Big Bird Goes to Japan,” which I once watched in second grade as a perverse predecessor to the major cultures requirement. The flavor is dominated by the Russian dressing and the coleslaw, but the variety of meats lends great textural and nutritional benefits to the sub.
Description: A canonical HamDel favorite, the N.Y.P.D. consists of a liberal helping of hot roast beef with a number of synergistic toppings: onions, peppers, bacon, and the catalyst of barbeque sauce. The American cheese actually works well here, adding to the uninhibited exuberance of the sandwich as a whole.
Description: Disappointing. At best an ersatz N.Y.P.D. Too many peppers numb the tongue, ruin the taste, and wreck the texture.
Description: Its name recalling a juicy scandal of a bygone era, perhaps a more current moniker for this delectable mixture of a chicken cutlet, melted mozzarella, and “secret sauce” would be the “Judith Nathan.” The cutlet is substantial and filling, the cheese sticky, the sauce enigmatically delicious, the entire combination very satisfying. I wish I liked chicken more.
Description: Also based off a chicken cutlet, which coalesces weirdly with the ham and the melted provolone. Strictly inferior to the Lewinsky.
Description: An unrepentantly revolting mixture of American, swiss, muenster, provolone, lettuce, tomato, pickles, oil, and vinegar. Cheese, cheese, cheese. Probably conceived of as a sadistic trap for wayward drunkards or intrepid stoners on a dare.
Description: The Lewinsky’s nomenclatural counterpart, the Clinton evokes with its simple and immaculate artistry a bygone era of innocence, one during which I graduated from preschool, got suspended in first grade for biting a kid when he cut me in line, matriculated to middle school, and was hit with puberty before I could get out of the way. A variation on the classic BLT, the Clinton ingeniously erases its precursor’s weaknesses while highlighting its strengths by means of a dollop of chicken salad, which renders the sandwich tasty, texturally nuanced, decently filling, and surprisingly healthy. Per its eponym, the Clinton embodies Plato’s ideal of justice as something both instantly gratifying and good for you in the long run. Is there any sandwich at HamDel that can match these virtues? Stay tuned for Tour de HamDel, Stage III, coming in a week or two.