We Eat Every Sandwich at Court Street Grocers' Red Hook Hero Shop
Hurricane Sandy may have delayed the opening of Court Street Grocers' Red Hook hero shop, but the wait paid off. The counter service shop, an offshoot of the Carroll Gardens original, offers spins on American classics like roast beef, Italian combos, breakfast sandwiches, and other regional specialties—all on crisp, airy hero bread from Caputo's.
Fans of Court Street as we are, we stopped by the new shop to try every sandwich they sell. The short answer? While our sandwich success rate wasn't as high as what we've had at the original shop, there are several heros with a trip.
These cross-section shots might make you think they're skimping on the fillings, but we found all the sandwiches well proportioned, if not stuffed to the brim. The bread, in all cases, was great: fresh with a crackly crust and a plush interior. Here's our rundown of all the sandwiches, roughly ordered from most to least favorite.
Mr. Cays ($9)
Why can't all roast beef sandwiches be as good as this one? Beautifully rare roast beef comes with mild arugula, a Worcestershire vinaigrette, sliced red onions, and a French onion jus for dipping on the side. Not that this beef needs anything, even the funky vinaigrette, to stand out—it has a mineral twang on its own. We've paid 50% more for roast beef with less meaty umph. Get on this.
Italian Combo ($9)
This sandwich might be the closest thing you'll find to a New Orleans muffaletta in New York. Thinly sliced mortadella, capicola, soppressata come with a briny olive salad and Swiss, mozzarella, and Percorino cheeses. More cheesy and olive-y than New York-style combos, it evokes the holy trinity of cured meat fat, dairy fat, and olive fat with enough lactic and briny tang for balance. Bravo, Court Street Grocers, bravo.
Smoke Thief ($11)
The only sandwich over $9 on the menu, smoky pork shoulder with a vinegar slaw, pickles, and sweet barbecue sauce. Sweet sauce rarely has anything to offer pork barbecue, and that's the case here, especially with all that vinegary slaw fighting the good fight. We also found the pork a touch too sweet and overcooked. But as far as barbecue sandwiches go, this one has some merits.
The Ollie ($9)
Is it a turkey-fied take on a Philly roast pork sandwich? A broccoli rabbed tuna melt? We're thinking something in between for this turkey, provolone, and rabe sandwich with mayo and sriracha-laced honey. But perhaps it would have done better to choose one classic rather than mash to up. The turkey lacks pork's backbone against the surprisingly bitter broccoli rabe, and we felt the sandwich needed more heat and salt to work as a gussied-up turkey-mayo-cheese sandwich. But it's still a satisfying one.
Breakfast Sandwiches ($5 to $6.50)
Between 9 and 11 a.m. you can get breakfast sandwiches stuffed with super-tender scrambled eggs that stay that way even after a long subway trip. The Mr. Victor adds not enough Cheddar, mild sausage, and arugula. There's also a version with mild chorizo, a plain egg option, and a bacon and egg. Our favorite is a combination of these: ask for egg with extra cheese and some bacon—it gets you the best of all worlds.
The Yasha ($9)
A lighter take on the tuna salad sandwich that stars oil-packed tuna with green goddess dressing and pickled lemon. Some of us wanted more condiments for balance and perhaps an added textural component, but the fish is several steps up from the deli standard.
Turkey Sandwich ($8; add bacon for $2)
A simpler take on the Ollie with just turkey, pickles, arugula, red onion, and mayo. Bacon comes for $2 extra, though we don't think it adds much. It's simple in an after school snack sort of way, though we wish the turkey were more moist and had more going on.
Uncle Chucky ($9)
As at Court Street 1.0, vegetarian sandwiches get short changed. This butternut squash sandwich with white bean purée is alarmingly sweet despite the fennel and pickled onions that come on top. The double dose of starch is grainy more than creamy. You can pass on this one.