[Pigging by Wilfrid: March 13, 2017]
Ice cold blew the wind up (or down, who cares?) Amsterdam Avenue. We ducked into this corner butcher store (okay, Bloomfield-Friedman restaurant), and found it pleasantly busy on a late Saturday lunchtime.
I was ready for insanely busy, given its newness and provenance, but there were seats open, including a two-top. You order at the counter on arrival, and they hand you a flag. I dispatched my daughter to stake our seating claim before I even finished ordering food.
But the well-edited lunch menu has some good prices. Everyone who wasn't ordering the chopped cheese was getting a hearty $12 meatball sandwich. Pasties are only $7 to $9, sausage rolls $5 (50 cents more than Myers of Keswick, and this is sitting down).
And then there's the famous chopped cheese at $11. It's origins in the Barrio are by now thoroughly documented. I hadn't eaten one, but my daughter claims to have seen many served in corner delis. It's compelling resemblance to a messed-about cheeseburger makes me inclined to believe the story that a sandwich-maker one day just chopped up the filling of a cheeseburger to fit different-shaped bread.
No real reason for the chopping when circular bread is available: here a very good, poppy-seeded kaiser roll, sturdy enough to bear the juices.
The ground beef in the hacked-up patty was excellent. You could tell the quality. But--and here's where I lose half my readers--if you're going to serve quality meat in a good bun, why not upgrade the cheese? It's the gloopy pretend-cheese known as "American," of course, and it's the kind of thing I eat when I want to feel gross and guilty, like fried Spam or a bucket of Popeye's. This would be so much better with some good cheese on it ("Oh, but then it wouldn't be authentic..." Oh dear, oh dear). There are jalapeños and pickles too.
The surprise was the potato/fontina pastie, ordered only because they'd sold out of the beef/red wine. I feared a weighty puck, like any potato knish I've ever ordered.
But the short-crust pastry was excellent, the filling light, moist, almost airy. I do want to try the beef version ever more now.
And of course the sausage roll, staple of my youth. This is not a larger pig-in-a-blanket; no smoked frankfurter here. Bloomfield stuffs it with a variety of breakfast sausage still in its casing. The Myers of Keswick approach--filling it with loose sausage meat--is more traditional (and I give their product the edge). Tuck Shop provides an Australian version which features finely diced root vegetables in a sweeter, spicier meat mix. It's very good, but not English. Very good pastry again.
A short wine-list, but thoughtfully provided with half bottles. I'll be back.