Ham and sharp cheddar cheese
A perfect sandwich of heritage ham ($9.75) on a potato onion roll, designed by Michael Anthony of Gramercy Tavern. Which makes sense, when you think about it—Anthony serves terrific sandwiches in the front room of his restaurant.
Applewood-smoked turkey and gouda
Slightly heftier than the ham and cheese, but just as serious, is Blue Smoke chef Kenny Callahan's applewood-smoked turkey and gouda sandwich on ciabatta ($9.75). The turkey, smoked in house, is succulent and just smoky enough, but the thing that elevates this sandwich to near-art status is the pickled onion-jalapeno mayo.
Carmine Quagliata of the Union Square Cafe came up with a perfectly executed and ingeniously designed cured (not smoked) salmon sandwich with avocado cream cheese on sourdough rye. It wasn't big, but it didn't need to be. That said, the price tag ($11.95) was worthy of Andy Warhol soup can.
The price tag ($14.95) was similarly hard to swallow on Daniel Humm's (Eleven Madison Park) chicken schnitzel sandwich topped by black truffle-celery slaw—which showed some of the inherent problems of chef-designed sandwiches. Here the problem wasn't size, but design and execution. Humm's creation is basically an underseasoned, and less-than-crispy chicken cutlet sandwich with a very expensive garnish. See Torrisi's chicken parm sandwich to see what on-premise chefs can do with a chicken cutlet.
Made with slab bacon, cheddar curds, Bibb lettuce, and tomato marmalade on a pain de mie roll. It's tasty enough, but at $7.50 it should be a transcendent egg sandwich, and it isn't.
The line-caught Albacore tuna sandwich ($9.50), made with lemon, olives, and arugula on ciabatta, is a rather hefty tuna sandwich that is perfectly good, but probably not worthy of having a chef's name attached to it (in this case, Robb Garceau of Hudson Yards Catering).
Bombay pita panino
Courtesy of Floyd Cardoz of Tabla. It suffered from a store-bought pita that hardened in a panini press. Even the roasted eggplant and tomato, though smothered with coconut cilantro chutney, was oddly flat-tasting.
Kids and adults can both enjoy the PB&J ($5.50), artfully cut for optimal sharing. Adults end up eating the crust anyway, right?
$5.75, beefy and onion-y filled with croutons.
A study in contradictions ($5.25): a golden broth suffused with chicken flavor but devoid of salt and herbs and seasoning.
Desserts also suffer from the price-value conundrum. This was a really good s'more, but it was three bites for $3.75.
Lemon whoopie pie
At $3, a much better value, a soft and tender cookie filled with smooth, tangy, and creamy filling.
Chocolate mint patty brownie
Delicious ($3.75), but so dense and chocolaty they should keep the patty name and drop the brownie, because it's basically a flourless chocolate cake.
A kid-friendly sweet that's also a well-composed dessert ($3.75), from Blue Smoke's Jennifer Giblin.