So many franchises from around the country and across the world have entered the New York market, it’s easy to miss one or two until you stumble on them. Such was the case with HoneyBaked Ham. A year ago it started building out a storefront at the corner of Fulton and Flatbush Extension in Downtown Brooklyn, in the same building as Applebee’s and across the street from Junior’s. But it wasn’t until recently that the place finally spread a banner across the front and opened to the public at 395-A Flatbush Avenue Extension.
Though the company recently moved to Georgia, HoneyBaked Ham was founded in Detroit in 1957 by Harry J. Hoenselaar, who patented a process for spiral cutting ham that could be served without the need for using a knife. The company now boasts more than 400 stores, including another location that recently opened in Bed-Stuy.
Opening a store in downtown Brooklyn focusing on ham might engender incredulity: Ham is considerably more popular in the Midwest than it is in New York, often served at picnics and on holidays like Easter. But any Midwestern transplants, or New Yorkers interested in following the Midwestern specialties landing in the city, might be interested in giving the new place a try.
Though retailing hams by the pound may be its raison d’etre, the new HoneyBaked Ham store is also a casual restaurant that focuses on sandwiches. Ham is the flagship, but there are 11 other options, including turkey bacon ranch, roast beef and cheddar, and ham salad, the latter rarely seen in New York delis. Soups, salads, and sides like potato salad and something called “Mandarin pineapple dream” are also available.
Other meats available include turkey breast and smoked turkey breast, and visitors to the store are likely to get a taste of the turkeys as well as the ham. Telling the three apart while blindfolded could be a problem; to me, they all tasted pretty much the same. This isn’t like Virginia ham or Polish him, which are respectively very salty and very smoky. The ham is not assertive, flavor wise — which doesn’t mean it’s bad, just more bland.
The sandwiches sell for $6.49 or $6.99 and are made on a flaky roll that’s something like a round croissant, with lettuce, tomato, and, in the case of the ham sandwich, a slice of Swiss cheese. The ham itself is slightly sweet due to its honey-baked treatment. The sandwich arrives dressed with mayo and an orange chutney, so there’s no dearth of sweetness. An extra $2.49 gets you a beverage, side, pickle wedge, and cookie. Not a bad deal.