It is my intention to celebrate the sandwich this year by finding as many tasty examples as possible, with a special emphasis on fringe styles, but also presenting sandwiches that were considered more normal 30 years ago that now seem quaint. I will do this weekly and periodically present round-ups of the ones I consider best.
Haiti’s sandwich culture often extends to ones with turkey or egg that substitute planks of fried plantain or breadfruit for bread, but this column recently stumbled on a Brooklyn restaurant that makes meats more often incorporated into stews or confits into sandwiches, and the results are fantastic.
That restaurant is Grandchamps in Stuyvesant Heights, owned by Sabrina and Shawn Brockman. Ms. Brockman, nee Grandchamps, is of Haitian heritage, and some of the recipes come from her parents. But Grandchamps is far from being a typical Haitian restaurant as seen around town in neighborhoods like Flatbush and Canarsie.
The décor could be described as rustic modern, featuring a big communal table with views of the neighborhood, Edison bulbs hanging from the ceiling, and a counter selling food products imported from Haiti, including chocolate, coffee, and spicy peanut butter. Ordering is done at the counter in fast-casual style, and a window with a Haitian flag mounted above it allows one to watch the cooks at work. The place doubles as a coffee bar with the usual espresso-based beverages.
Appetizers and brunch-friendly breakfasts are provided, but the heart of the menu are seven classic Haitian dishes, furnished with an appetizer salad in a garlic vinaigrette, choice of rices, and the spicy cabbage relish called pikliz, or rather the restaurant’s adaptation of it, which is a little less watery than usual. Several of these main course meats can be made into sandwiches, which I’d never seen before in a Haitian eatery.
One of these is griot, the pork confit made by cooking the meat in its own citrusy marinade until the fat is rendered, and then cooking the pork a second time in the rendered fat until the chunks are dense and flavorful. Instead of being served on a platter with the conventional sides as an entrée, or eaten by themselves as a snack or appetizer, this griot is incorporated into a sandwich with pikliz as the dressing, in the same way shredded cabbage is used to dress a Baja fish taco. The result is a wonderful and unique sandwich. A dark red and slightly oily gravy is provided. Use it as a further dressing or a dipping sauce. 197 Patchen Avenue, at Halsey Street, Stuyvesant Heights