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A Sandwich a Day: Pret a Manger's 'Famous Ham & Cheese'

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.

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[Photograph: Robyn Lee]

Excuse me, ladies and gentleman, while I use today's "Sandwich a Day" to update a post I wrote on Serious Eats New York in mid November of last year. In it, I lamented the fact that Pret a Manger had taken its ham and cheese baguette sandwich off the menu. Apparently it was an order from on high at the Pret home offices in London.

Well, I guess Pret HQ in Jolly Ol' England was reading, because about a month after my post went up, hungrypuppy notified me that the ham and cheese was back. How's that for service?

Now that a Pret location has opened a mere 3 blocks from SE HQ (thanks for accommodating me again, Pret!), I've had what they're now calling "Pret's Famous Ham & Cheese" a handful of times and it's just about as good as I remember.

I wish the baguette were a little better. It's perfectly adequate for conveying a restrained and well-balanced amount of applewood-smoked ham, Swiss cheese, baby leaf lettuce, and mustard-mayo to my gullet, but it's not as crisp or flavorful as I'd like. Still, big deal — it's better than whatever formulation they were using a few years ago, which was so crusty that it often sandpapered the roof of my mouth. I'll take the trade-off.

The ham is from Niman Ranch and is plenty flavorful. There's not a heaping amount, which I find refreshing — sometimes I don't want half a pig between two slices of bread — and what's on this sandwich is easily discernible among the other flavors yet not overpowering. I do miss the ham Pret used to make it with, which I suspect may have been Madrange ham. (If it wasn't, it was a dead ringer for it.) I thought the previous ham had a distinct flavor that you didn't encounter at too many other places. The Niman Ranch applewood-smoked ... well, everything is "applewood-smoked" these days. It's tasty, but you've tasted it before.

Yet this remains one of my in-a-rush, go-to sandwiches. I really do love Pret for its convenience, and some days that's the biggest factor of all. I'm just happy that convenience and deliciousness can coexist.

Pret a Manger

Various locations throughout Manhattan; pretamanger.com/us/find_a_pret

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