I like Graham Elliot Bowles. I liked him when he was at Avenues. I liked his eponymous restaurant from the night of its soft launch. I was looking forward to Grahamwich in earnest. A gourmet sandwich place 3 blocks from my office – perfect.
Months ago when it had just opened, I waited a few days to avoid the line then went at about 1:30 for a couple sandwiches and an order of chips… which came out to over $20. On top of that the place was mobbed. It was going through some growing pains that any new place would have so the ordering process had some sorting out needed. There was no seating at the time in the place at all and what they did have boiled down to a large shared table that made seating and leaving very crowded. The place was standing room only.
The two sandwiches I had were super messy, albeit tasty (props for the plaintain bun) but all-in-all the hassle and cost were more than the flavor was worth. I chose to not write it up at the time thinking that I needed to give it another shot later.
Now (finally!) it's later. I found out that Ginza was closed for the holiday so on my circuit back to work I realized I could grab a Grahamwich and see how things were going. So I did. I didn't realize just how often I eat at Ginza.
This time around there was no line at all and I got myself a gyro. The prices are about the same, all I got was the sandwich for $9.99 including tax. I still think it's a bit much for a takeout sandwich. I got it back to my office since the sitting options were few- but available this time! And opened it up. I have to say that if there's a downside to any lunch sandwich it's one that's messy. It's one thing that I have trouble with especially when it comes to a take-out type of lunch spot. I'm at work, wearing a button down. Meeting are on my calendar. The last thing I want to be is a aromatic spatter painting.
I eyed the semi-open sandwich and sighed. Maybe part of the problem was watching them make it. It reminded me of Subway. The pita was laid down and drizzled with a tzatziki sauce. A little baggie of thinly sliced lamb that was pre-portioned was placed on top followed by what looked like a pinch of kosher salt then a healthy spooning of heirloom tomatos, red onions and "English" cucumbers diced and then another drizzle of sauce and wrap it up. When I unwrapped it, it looked messy.
But it wasn't messy. And most importantly, it tasted great. The thinly sliced lamb reminded me of roast beef sandwiches I had as a child but with a great unmistakable lamb-aroma and melt-in-your-mouth-quality. The sauce conveyed gyro and didn't overshadow the sandwich; lamb is hard to overwhelm. The dice was pungent and fresh and there were a couple of pops of sweetness that I found surprising (maybe that salt was sugar?). The pita held everything together. If the sandwich had fallen apart I would have been really bummed but this pita's not only durable but soft and wonderful.
Still, it's nine bucks… but if you have a hankering for a gyro it's worth it! This gyro skips the mounds of greasy lamb in favor of fresh quality ingredients that pack the same flavors and while costing more, seems to be the smarter way to go. I guess that waygu sandwich is on the docket. I'm going back for more.
615 N. State St.