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Portland Sandwiches

Devil's Dill’s No. 3

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There are lots of reasons I wanna see Chris Serena and Gavin Duffy’s Devil’s Dill Sandwiches succeed. Here are a few…well, several:

  • their sandos have crunch (the insides of their rolls are brushed with olive oil and then grilled over open flames)
  • they’ll wrap your sando in gluten-free bread, if you want
  • they sell Pickleapolis Pickles
  • they’re open late (till 3am)
  • they deliver late (till 2:30am to homes that fall within a 1.5 mile radius)
  • they work hard (14-hour days, six days a week)
  • they make a lot of mean sandwiches (a meatloaf, a cheesesteak and a pair of vegan-vegetarian sandwiches)
  • they just might make the best Italian grinder in town.

Now, the thing about Italian sandwiches is, they may be easy to make, but they’re deceptively hard to perfect.

And Devil’s Dill’s No. 3 isn’t just perfect, it transcends the genre.

Like all Devil's Dill sandos, it comes on an 8-inch custom-made Fleur de Lis ciabatta roll. But even though the sandwich's meats (Molinari salami and mortadella) and cheese (provolone) are all of high caliber, they seem, compared to other ingredients (balsamic vinegar aioli, a tart cherry pepper relish and fresh kale massaged in olive oil, sea salt and white wine vinegar) like mere filler.

In other words, the meats and cheese satisfy, but the kale and the peppers will awaken each and every one of your tastebuds, which will in turn serenade each bite with sing the same pretty love song.

If you’re looking to order one and dine in, don’t—it’s grab ’n’ go only here. Unless, of course, it’s 2am, and you’re lucky to live with their delivery radius.

if that’s the case, it sure beats pizza, right? And while A Devil’s Dill sando may be one helluva way to sop up whatever you’ve fun you’ve been having in the preceding hours, you’re kind of doing yourself a disservice. A good one, but a disservice nonetheless.

Because the No. 3, like all good things, is best enjoyed on an empty stomach and with a clear head. Your mouth will tanks you, but so will your brain and, inevitably, your heart.

Devil's Dill Sandwich Shop, 1711 SE Hawthorne Blvd., 503.236.8067

Portland's Other Schnitz

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Mistakes were made. At least one big one was, so a correction’s in order. Turns out that my original suggestion in Neighborhood Notes that Karel and Monika Vitek's Schnitzelwich is surprisingly light was remarkably wrong.

I’ve come to learn that a Tábor Schnitzelwich is, in fact, a commitment—I'd originally typed that finishing off this burly sando in a single sitting would leave you feeling A-Okay, but that's because when I first ate one, I'd eaten just half, then, still hungry an hour later, finished the other half. I felt great. And delightfully surprised. But 60 minutes can make all the difference.

I've since come to learn on subsequent visits to wrap up and eat later what I can’t finish now rather than have at it in one go, which probably says a lot more about me than the sandwich, itself. Still, this sando's a keeper, and well worth the short wait it takes to have one prepared, even if it means standing in the rain.

Served on a ciabatta roll and topped with crisp Romain lettuce, a pleasantly pungent horseradish sour cream and an electric red ajvar (a Czech relish made with garlic, eggplant and roasted red peppers), the Vitek's breaded and panfried schnitzel sando (your choice of either pork or chicken—but c'mon: are you really going to ask for chicken?) long ago leapfrogged lotsa spots to become one of Portland's most iconic sandwiches—an honor it richly deserves.

Just remember: if you find yourself halfway through, take a breather and think, should I trust my belly or my own lyin' eyes? The answer is obvious: trust your belly. Finish what you can, wrap up what you can't, and give yourself a short rest before filling the rest of you up. Of course, you can always choose to bring along a friend to help you finish it.*

*And should you bring along that friend, consider going on a Wednesday. You can pair that split sandwich while splitting a bramborák (a bulging omelet-like 10-inch potato pancake that you can have stuffed with sauerkraut, ham, spinach and that same spicy sour cream), or pony up and share a bowl of Bohemian Gulash, availably daily, and prepared weekly with thematic twists—the Viteks make Guinness Gulash, Szekely Gulash, Pilsner Gulash and Gypsy Gulash just, as Karel says “to make the point that Gulash has many faces and endures infinite possibilities.”

 

Putting a New Spin on a Very Old Wheel

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Once a year, every summer, Gretchen’s, the casual restaurant in Idaho’s Sun Valley Lodge, dusts off a pair of recipes: Liver & Onions and Egg Salad Sandwiches. When you see those specials, you know one thing for certain: the Sun Valley Jazz Jamboree’s in full swing. I’d know. I used to live there.

When you saw those items, you knew it was the time of year when people (by which I mean old people—and not to be chauvinist, but we are talking about Idaho—old white people) ascend the mountains in their motorhomes to soak up some Dixieland.

Now I like jazz, and I like Dixieland. And I like egg salad—I make it at home. And while I do like old  people (love 'em actually), I’m not necessarily ready to be one. Not just yet, anyway.

So when I see an egg salad sandwich on some menu, I think, “Aw, that’s so cute!” before invariably choosing something saltier, spicier and, because my choppers can still chomp, crunchier.

That said, when I first saw the egg salad sandwich on The Fireside’s menu, I paused before deciding, slowly, almost suspiciously, “Sure. Okay.”

To Fireside’s credit, the menu does list it as a Bacon Sandwich, and, in this town, bacon has sway. Lots. And it doesn’t hurt that The Fireside’s team butchers its own pig each week turning it into sausages, rillettes and, yup, bacon.

Along with the egg salad, the bacon’s sandwiched in rye—toasted on the inside, not on the out—with roasted chicory.

But it’s the egg salad that truly gives this sando its charm, its personality.

That’s because the kitchen takes something that’s ordinarily vanilla, and sort of electrifies it. So how do you do that?

By pickling those eggs with bay leaves, mustard seeds and chili flakes for five full days before chopping them into a mustardy, mayonnaisey salad that’s only finished off when it’s spiked with a dash of brine in the way that you’d dirty a martini.

Now be warned: it’s messy, but it’s definitely worth getting jazzed about, no matter how old you are or aren’t.

The only sad part? You can only order one during lunch, which runs from 11:30am–3pm (and till 5pm on weekends), so get one when you can.

The Fireside, 801 NW 23rd Ave., 503.477.9505

Don't Call It A Cheesesteak

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Even though there's plenty of Internet sniping over what does and does not constitute "authentic" food, most reasonable people agree that foods, and even whole cuisines, evolve.

That won't stop us from arguing over tacos, barbecue, ramen or pizza (New York versus Chicago, Neapolitan versus them all). We even dissect and grouse over cuisines that've causally evolved, like TexMex, when all we really want is a plate of nachos without the cultural and regional tsk-tsking.

And that's why Shut Up And Eat's John Fimmano—a Philadelphian!—refuses to call his cheesesteak a Philly cheesesteak. He won’t even call it a cheesesteak (he calls his a Broadstreet Bomber instead), because If he did, somebody'd be sure to get all fussy and finger-pointy.

Besides, Fimmano says, there's no such thing as a true Philly cheesesteak.

Getting a good Philly in Philly, he says, depends not just on the shop you frequent, but on the day you visit. If the woman who cooks your favorite cheesesteak at your favorite spot has the day off, you just might walk a couple of blocks to have the fella at your second favorite spot make your second favorite.

And Fimmano'd know. Like many of his peers, he spent his teenage years making cheesesteaks for the people in his neighborhood. And for the last few years, he's been making them for us.

Putting aside authenticity arguments, to make a proper one, you're gonna need a good roll—Fimmano says it took his baker (the fine folks at Pearl Bakery) about six experimental months until they came up with a winner strong and sturdy enough to sop up the grease and prevent the whole thing from falling apart into a puddling mess.

And when I say whole thing, I mean whole thing: Fimmano’s Broadstreet's made with a half-pound of beef, nine slices—nine!—of provolone and cheddar cheeses, which is all chopped up and grilled together with onions and your choice of peppers (sweet, hot, or both) until it's one big, gooey, cheesy osmotic mass of yum.

It’s a lot of food—it'll slow your blood just looking at it—but it's a keeper, too. Just remember: when ordering a sando like this, slow and steady will win the race.

Plus, you can always wrap up what you can't finish. Your belly’ll thank you for it now, and it’ll thank you for it again, later, when you eat the other half for tomorrow's lunch. It's like giving yourself the same present twice.

Shut Up and Eat, 3848 SE Gladstone St., 503.719.6449