Monday, September 04, 2006

All Star Sandwich Bar: The Best Thing Since Sliced Bread

Typically, the opening of a sandwich shop would not be cause for major buzz and excitement - unless the man behind said shop is Chris Schlesinger. For those of you who don't know him, Chris is the owner of East Coast Grill, an Inman Square mecca for fresh seafood and fall-off-the-bone ribs for over 20 years. Also, he's hosted his own grilling show on PBS, published several cookbooks, appeared on Martha Stewart's show, etc. Despite all that, he's sort of the anti-celebrity chef. He hasn't opened dozens of restaurants all over the planet risking quality control. He still greets and seats people at East Coast Grill. And he served us our sandwiches at his new goldmine, the All Star Sandwich Bar.

What's so special about the All Star Sandwich Bar?
1. They take their sandwich making seriously. They roast their own Roast Beef and Turkey. Their Pastrami is "Gansett Beer Steamed." You can "Hot Rod Yo Sandwich" with awesome additions like Tomato Ginger Chutney, Cider Slaw and Hot Pepper Relish. They even make their own pickles which are served with every sandwich. Wraps are banned from the menu because they're not considered "real" sandwiches. A book lies on the counter inviting customers to write in their favorite sandwich for consideration in the future. (I vote for a linguica sandwich with grilled onions and dijon mujstard on a Portuguese roll, a tribute to the Portuguese neighborhood in which the shop resides - Inman Square.)

2. They have a liquor license so you can have a beer with your meal (any place with Narragansett on tap is okay in my book).

3. If you opt to eat in, they'll actually wait on you at comfortable tables in a fun, friendly, hip atmosphere.

4. They're open for dinner - great for the nights where you want to eat out, eat well but don't want to drop a lot of cash.

All Star has been open for a couple of weeks now and there has been a line out the door at lunch every day. So I'm not the only freak that's been eagerly awaiting the opening. I have to say it's both a blessing and a curse to walk by this place every day because I've already eaten there 3 times (the sacrifices I make for my readers). And my choices were not lo-cal. I went first for the Cuban Sandwich with Black Forest Ham, Rubbed and Roasted Pork Shoulder, Dill Pickle and a Mango Mojo Mayo on a Baguette (pictured at top). My favorite so far. The sandwich was grilled panini style so all the ingredients melted into each other. The dill pickle adds a kick that complements the meat and cheese festival very nicely.

Next visit I tried the BBQ Pork Sandwich with Coleslaw on an "Average" White Bun (I think there's a 70's Motown reference there). The pulled pork was amazing and they didn't overpower it by pouring barbecue sauce on it. Instead you just get the stripped down vinegary flavor and the crunchy flavor of the coleslaw which was underneath. Highly recommend.

On my last visit, the Krispy Fried Local Bluefish Po' Boy (pictured above) was my sandwich of choice. Bluefish is not something you see on menus very often and I love it so I was really happy to see it. The fish came out steaming and was cooked to perfection - nice and flaky. I wished that there had been a little more of the Tabasco RĂ©molade on the sandwich but other than that, no complaints.

My dining companions were big fans of The Pastraminator, a classic served on Toasted Rye with Creole Mustard, the Tuna Melt with Cheddar and Sweet Pickle Relish on Whole Wheat, and The Reuben (pictured above), a classic taken to another level with House Corned Beef, Swiss, Sauerkraut and House Russian Dressing on Rye) - I had to take a bite of that one. It was sick - in a good way.

There are over 25 hot and cold sandwiches on the menu. I guarantee you'll find something that makes your mouth water and your palette come alive. You can start thinking about what you might want to order now. Their full menu is on their website.

All Star Sandwich Bar
1245 Cambridge Street, Inman Square, Cambridge, 617.868.3065