The fantastic five relish in simple food executed properly at this new Downtown spot
Let these words of wisdom from my better half sink into your grey matter and know that a good sandwich is a thing of beauty. And also know that Ocean City has an unassuming little bistro (two actually) serving sandwiches so simple yet so terrifically tasty, your taste buds may actually explode with delight.
It’s called the Sandwich Bar. Naturally. And the owner is Dennis D’alesandro, a laid back Jersey guy with a mop of dark hair and the potential to head for the beach if the surf is up.
“We do simple things right,” said Dennis “Things you’ve been eating all your life, like a chicken cutlet, we just execute it properly, like an Italian grandmother would do it. We’re not taking frozen chicken cutlets out of the freezer and dropping them in the deep fryer. There’s nothing fast about this.”
And there you have it, the uncomplicated secret to their success; simple things done correctly. There’s nothing fast about this food and you can tell.
I had assembled the entire crew for this mission: Myself, Tony Stark; Captain Steve Rogers; Dr. Bruce
Banner; Godzilla and Pepper Potts. We also brought backup in the form of U.P. and A.J. The backup superheroes had arrived from parts north with the sole purpose of helping us keep Godzilla under control – she’s a very sweet monster, but when she starts breathing fire watch out. We had spent the entire day at Gillian’s Wonderland Pier, where the Gillian family had turned over their park to hundreds of students from Upper Township schools – thanks Gillian’s!
Needless to say we were hungry. The Sandwich Bar has recently opened a second location at 955 Asbury Avenue in the heart of the historic downtown. The original is at 3255 Asbury. And we rolled into that place like, well, like… um, like a hoard of superheroes hungry from a day of riding the rides!
Pepper Potts discovered the original Sandwich Bar at 33rd and Asbury just last summer. She hauled me down one fine summer day (are there any other kind in the OC?) and I was hooked. Their chicken cutlet sandwich became a staple of my diet for the rest of the summer. So as we invaded their newest location I was expecting good things. I was looking for a good sandwich – no, I was looking for a truly tasty sandwich – I
as not interested in “good.” Good is the enemy of great or something like that. I get tired of good. I had an itch and I wanted it scratched. I was hungry baby, really hungry, and average food was not gonna satisfy me. And I am so happy to announce I was not disappointed.
Pepper Potts and A.J. ordered the chicken cutlet – a wise choice. Cap, Hulk and Godzilla each ordered hot dogs, U.P. went with the burger and I, after much deliberation (Should I get the pork? Maybe I should get a cheesesteak or the bacon avocado sandwich…hmm), went with the lobster roll.
“We have a very limited menu,” said Dennis. “We put so much into each item that we don’t want to overbook ourselves. When you open a menu with six pages, how much care can really go into each of those items?”
This philosophy of food permeates the entire establishment. I noticed hardly any décor at the Asbury Avenue location and to be honest I found this reassuring. I find comfort in the fact that Dennis and his crew seem almost completely uninterested in anything other than their food (except maybe surfing). I’m sure that come summer they’ll add a bit of personality to the place but it’s obvious to me that food comes first at the Sandwich Bar. And the product reflects that.
“We take great care. We prepare the chicken cutlets ourselves. We clean them, we pan fry them; it’s not just cooking, it’s the whole process,” said Dennis.
The lobster roll was just what I’d hoped for; lightly toasted roll, a hint of mayo, a dollop of butter, and tons of fresh lobster meat. Lobster ain’t cheap so when I order a lobster roll, it better be good. This was excellent. The absence of extraneous filler was notable and welcome – I don’t want a bunch of junk getting in the way of my lobster. The roll was fresh and just right, the seasoning was light and allowed the lobster to shine through so yeah, I’d order this again. Scrumptious.
Pepper Potts and A.J. also seemed to enjoy their plates.
“There’s something about the way Dennis prepares this sandwich that makes it really good,” said Pepper. “The rolls are fresh with a terrific texture, the broccoli rabe adds a little kick and the sharp provolone is a perfect contrast to the chicken. The cutlet is pounded thin and properly cooked – this is one of my favorite sandwiches.”
Be advised that Dennis doesn’t melt the cheese on the cutlet sandwiches. I like it that way, but if you want it hot with melted cheese, he’ll do that.
“The cutlet is divine,” said A.J. “It’s crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside just the way it should be.”
The three littlest superheroes all had hotdogs. You know as well as I do that hot dogs are not haute cuisine, but a bad hotdog can really ruin your day. But as expected Dennis trotted out a nicely cooked, quality dog that the crew devoured. The Captain even ordered a second. That says it all.
“This burger is phenomenal,” said U.P “The meat is very good – nice and thick.”
You may be sensing a trend by now. We all had a lovely meal and a splendid dining experience. And isn’t that the essence of eating out? It’s about gathering with family and friends over a quality meal and enjoying the moment. And in my mind, the food must be as sparkling as the moment. The Sandwich Bar delivered. One can laugh his loudest when the food elevates the experience. You’re not gonna be laughing loud if you’re eating frozen chicken strips that someone threw in a deep fryer. So go to Sandwich Bar and eat and laugh and eat some more until your taste buds explode with delight.