Let’s peek at two, long-awaited, that opened in the past week and a half:
You’ll also be over the sensory overload by then, better able to focus on the short, smart lineup: a thinnish grilled cheddar sandwich with hunks of pickled peaches, for instance, their bite (and that of the handful of arugula leaves) setting off the lush hoop cheese to beautiful advantage.
Or a modified banh mi, its pulled pork tinged with lemongrass, piled into a chewy length of bread (not the classic shattery baguette on this visit) with pickled carrot and daikon, shavings of radish, herbs and a slathering of spiced aioli. Less fresh heat, more encompassing warmth.
Or a kale salad with a little farro (the menu description suggests the opposite) with a thin rectangle of paneer (a mild Indian-style cheese) and a dash of marvelous preserved-lemon vinaigrette. The sharp fragrance of juices carries; the cheesemonger is in France right now, explains her stand-in; a spray of sunflowers brightens one empty wall. The place has an exotic whiff that’s somehow simultaneously homey.
A few things are straight-up simple: Shrimp on a roll with horseradish, for instance, or runny egg on a boule with white cheddar and bacon, though not just regular bacon: This is the thick-sliced, caramelized-in-spots, melty-fatty sort of slab bacon, the kind that goes, as a side dish, for $6.50 for three slices.
Which brings up this question: Will the audience support $11 sandwiches when sides, in sides-portion sizes (such as the interesting “crispy root vegetable pappardelle” that’s essentially chips) are $5.50? Get a tea and tip like a human and you’re topping $20 for lunch. That lamb was pretty perfect, though.