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.
A few weeks ago, I surveyed a quintet of new bakeries, mainly chains from other countries that were invading parts of Manhattan more or less centered on Union Square. All presented a very idiosyncratic list of baked goods, many of them better and different than things we had here already, including superb health breads from Sweden with plenty of nuts and seeds and a discount French bakery with cheap baguettes in several shades of brown.
Located on Broadway just north of Union Square, Ole & Steen was our first branch of a Copenhagen chain founded in 1991, with a focus on artisanal breads and frosted breakfast pastries. With a pair of self-service dining rooms more handsome and comfortable than they needed to be, the bakery also has a sideline in sandwiches and full meals, including open-face smørrebrød with lots of smoked and pickled fish and boiled eggs on the usual demonically dense rye bread.
But more interesting is a series of hot pressed sandwiches on a flatbread much like focaccia. Though these sandwiches seemed inspired by Italian cuisine, the catalog of fillings was distinctively Danish. The one that blew me away was called the Danish toastie ($9). It arrived piping hot, with hash marks from the sandwich press. Long-braised Brandt beef from Brawley, California, said to be hormone and antibiotic free, is tucked inside, while a white and mildly flavored Danish cheese called esrom seeped out the sides into little molten pools. Sautéed onions further flavor this rich, beefy sandwich. Really, though half a sandwich is probably enough for a meal, you’ll likely find yourself, as I did, gobbling the whole thing in record time. 873 Broadway, near East 18th Street, Gramercy