A Sandwich a Day: Hoagie Svenska from The Nook at Red Rooster
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.
It's shocking to me how many different complete concepts can be eked out in the single space that Red Rooster occupies on 125th and Lenox. It's like the Swiss Army Knife of restaurants. There's the main restaurant upstairs, which also houses a large cocktail bar and a walk-in-only cafe and patio. On weekends it's live jazz and soul. Downstairs is Ginny's Supper Club, with a completely different menu, and live music or DJ's every night of the week. Add to that list The Nook the new take-out-only lunch and brunch spot housed in what used to be the bookstore by the main entrance (yes, they had a bookstore).
On the menu: four sandwiches between $7 and $8 apiece, and a dozen or so pastries and cookies ranging from lingonberry jam-stuffed brioche rolls ($1.95), to curry-spiced, oatmeal-blueberry cookie sandwiches ($1.50).
There's the makings of a great fried chicken sandwich in the Chickety Split ($6.95), if only the biscuit could be a bit lighter. Similarly, the Atta Boy ($7.95) is a vegetarian roti that could use a bit more moisture. Hopefully these little complaints can be chalked up to opening blues.
For now, it's the Hoagie Svenska ($6.95) that's worth picking up. It's a soft-but-sturdy brioche roll shaped like a hot dog bun, stuffed with Red Rooster's excellent signature Swedish meatballs. Lingonberry mayonnaise binds a crunchy apple and beet salad that gets piled on top, while quick sweet pickled cucumbers, fresh chopped dill, and a sprinkle of crispy fried onions finish it off.
Room-temperature meatballs don't sound like they should taste good, much less great, but this sandwich is the exception that proves the rule.*
*please excuse my imprecise, loose rhetorical usage of that expression. You know what I mean.
About the author: J. Kenji Lopez-Alt is the Chief Creative Officer of Serious Eats where he likes to explore the science of home cooking in his weekly column The Food Lab. You can follow him at @thefoodlab on Twitter, or at The Food Lab on Facebook.