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This Roast Beef on Rye Might Be Critic Robert Sietsema’s Favorite Sandwich

In this week’s sandwich column, Eater’s critic divulges his love for a roast beef and coleslaw combo

Caterer and sandwich maker, Ready to Eat
Caterer and sandwich maker, Ready to Eat

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.

Everyone has a fallback sandwich spot, whether it be a deli, lunch counter, diner, or café. Usually, it should be close to home, so that while frequently passing it on the way to wherever, you can indulge an impulse for immediate satiation, or buy a sandwich and stick it in your pocket as an insurance policy against future hunger.

My place is Ready to Eat in the West Village. The narrow storefront of this caterer provides a few tables in front, and a kitchen in the back with every surface seemingly stacked with prepared foods, which may include roast yams, meatloafs, whipped potatoes, Caesar and Cobb salads, rotisserie chickens, and other beguiling but plain dishes. But I usually turn to the refrigerated case on the right, where sandwiches are neatly lined up like soldiers ready to go into battle.

All are priced at $8.95, perhaps on the principal that price should not have to figure into your sandwich deliberations. I like their egg salad flavored with dill on dark, dark pumpernickel; and their chicken curry with green apples in a spinach wrap — a faddish concoction that has seen its popularity wane in the last few years. Mostly, though, I head for the roast beef sandwich. But this is not any roast beef sandwich. The meat has been roasted on the premises to a warm but not bloody pink, and then put between slices of seeded rye along with a juicy coleslaw made with Russian dressing.

Yes, the salad and sandwich have been incorporated into a single entity, and the flavor and bulk of the assembled components makes the sandwich irresistible, sweet and salty and crunchy (from the slaw) all at once. And the sandwich is so carefully wrapped to keep the fluids in, that you really can stick it in your pocket for later. 525 Hudson St, between West 10th and Charles streets, West Village

A roast beef and coleslaw sandwich on rye, cut in the middle to show the layered interior
The roast beef and coleslaw sandwich fits in your pocket for easy transport.

Ready to Eat

525 Hudson Street, Manhattan, NY 10014 (212) 229-1013 Visit Website