Untamed Sandwiches, a small shop nestled on a quiet block near Bryant Park, looks fairly tame early on a Sunday afternoon. One of the owners, who works the cash register, tells me that customers have been filing in for the weekday lunch rush since it opened, but today's tranquility allows me to take in the shop's more folksy touches.
A menu of the shop's few but carefully curated choices is chalked on the wall leading up to the cash register. Framed photos of the shop's ingredient suppliers hang on the wall across from the glass-plated sandwich assembly area, and signs directing customers to where they can compost the remnants of their meal face the long, bar-style table.
Despite a simple first impression, as I bite into the Carla Bruni—a hot Italian veggie combo named after another hot Italian—it's anything but tame.
“That's probably the meatiest vegetable sandwich,” co-owner Andy Jacobi, Business '12, said. I reach for the napkins to wipe away the remnants of my Carla, which is simply but deliciously constructed with Ciambotta-style braised vegetables, stravecchio cheese, olive spread, and basil. This sandwich, like the shop's five other signature sandwiches, is the concoction of co-owner and chef Ricky King. Although Carla had literally poured out her soul, this traditional vegetarian sandwich is well-received by my stomach.
“They wouldn't be good if they weren't a little messy,” Jacobi said, handing me extra napkins.
I definitely don't remember a time when Subway could make me a Sheemakers Bounty—a sandwich composed of charred broccoli, fried almond butter, pickled raisin jelly, and cress. According to Jacobi, the sandwich is named for the man who introduced broccoli to England.
Jacobi attributes the deliciousness of the sandwiches to King's unusual flavor pairings and quality ingredients. Using sustainable ingredients was important to the owners, so King was careful to choose suppliers that produce food “the right way”—and it shows in the food's quality.
Apart from the Carla and the Sheemaker, the Untamed menu focuses on braised meats. Most of the meat is braised for eight hours. The results are best seen in the Hot Goldie, a grass-fed beef brisket named after the “Fiddler on the Roof” matriarch. It's probably the tenderest beef you will ever get in a sandwich.
While customers are allowed to drop ingredients from their sandwiches, Untamed has a no-substitutions policy to preserve their original pairings. However, Jacobi says that they pay a lot of attention to customer feedback and implement suggestions, like when customers wanted the sandwiches to be bigger. Bigger was certainly better, as I finished my sandwich feeling full but not overstuffed.
The Untamed meal wouldn't be complete without a quirky drink, like the rosemary limeade, a lighter alternative to run-of-the-mill sugary fountain drinks. The drink is produced by Cup & Compass, the brainchild of Philip David Crouse, Business '12, and Carlos Ayalde Garcia, Business '12.
Top off your meal with the cookies, which come straight from The Good Batch, a Brooklyn-based bakery. The Brown Butter Salty, a sugar cookie topped with salt, truly tastes like the best stick of butter you just want more of.
For those spending an afternoon in Bryant Park or taking breaks from their Midtown internships, head over to Untamed Sandwiches. While I hear that it can get a little crazy during weekday peak hours, the service time is fast and the sandwiches are well worth it.
Untamed Sandwiches is located at 43 West 39th St.