A Sandwich A Day: Halloumi Sandwich at Macchiato Espresso Bar
In this great city of ours, one could eat a different sandwich every day of the year—so that's what we'll do. Here's A Sandwich a Day, our daily look at sandwiches around New York. Got a sandwich we should check out? Let us know. —The Mgmt.
I walked into Macchiato Cafe near Grand Central expecting what I've come to expect from most trendy, modern-looking "espresso bars"—decent coffee and mediocre sandwiches.
Among the predictable sandwich options (e.g. "the Caprese," "the Grilled Chicken Breast," "the Turkey") I was most intrigued by "the Macchiato" ($8.25): grilled halloumi cheese, romaine, tomato, pickle, and cheese spread. Halloumi is a traditional Mediterranean cheese with a particularly high melting point, making it suitable for frying and grilling. In this instance, it was used as the main "meat" of the sandwich. But the carnivore within me was skeptical. How good could a sandwich made of only cheese, tomato, lettuce and pickle be?
Really good. Unforgettably good.
As I unwrapped the sandwich, I got a whiff that reminded me of McDonald's—a distinctive mildly meaty aroma combined with pickle. Worrisome. But as I bit into the soft ciabatta, I was struck by the utter savory meatiness of the halloumi cheese. The texture was not melty or stringy, but quite firm and a bit squeaky, much like the cheese curds found in Montreal's poutine. Its flavor was a rarity among cheeses; it was so tasty that it could easily stand on its own, without being at all funky. Sort of like what I wish firm fresh mozzarella tasted like. The simplicity of the other sandwich elements (a swipe of cream cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, and pickle) perfectly complimented the halloumi and let its buttery umami flavor shine.
If you've been looking for a faux-meaty sandwich to replace your eggplant parmigiana, I suggest giving this a try. This is one vegetarian option I will be eating again by choice.