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All Star Sandwich Bar

June 18, 2007

Sand-wich

Just in case this place hadn’t gotten enough press yet, I decided to drag Mr. X out to Inman Square this weekend to check out Chris Shlessinger’s All Star Sandwich Bar. As one of the few places featured in Bon Appetit I can actually afford, I was pretty eager to see what all the fuss is about. Of course, I’m not the world’s biggest sandwich fan, and actually prefer the much maligned wrap (gasp!), but when a place gets this much attention, I figure even someone as sandwich neutral as I might find something to love. And I sure did.

The All Star is right on the corner of Prospect and Cambridge streets, only a few doors down from Schlessinger’s other spot, the East Coast Grill, and next door to Christina’s ice cream shop, which I’d been hearing raves about since I moved to this city. As soon as we walked into the joint (and it is a joint, in the best sense of the word) it was clear that this sandwich shop was a carefully crafted and well-planned venture, not just your neighborhood sub shop. The chalkboards all over the place advertising specials and unusual menu items, the bright orange color scheme, the small metal tables crammed in close together–everything seemed orchestrated to evoke that retro-cool-hipster feel that is all the rage these days. That same hipster feel that’s bringing back cupcakes and macaroni and cheese.

All Star Sandwich Bar

We got a table right away (whoo!) and a very friendly server came over with menus and promptly took drink orders. They do serve beer and wine, which was an unexpected bonus. They’ve even got Cristal, if you want some expensive bubbly with your sandwich. And while their regular menu is pretty extensive, I was made very happy by a lengthy list of daily specials. Unlike some, I like as many choices as I can get when I go out to eat.

The sandwiches seduced me right quick with unique ingredient combinations and quirky names. I love a place that will make a cross between a Cuban and a Reuban, and will otherwise mess around with your food choice preconceptions. I was tempted by many, but ultimately fell for the Veggie special–a torta with black beans, guacamole, jack cheese, and roasted red peppers. I have a torta weakness–maybe because it’s the sandwich that most resembles a burrito.

Of course, we also had to get an order of deviled eggs and a side of German Potato Salad, both of which I suspect will make many appearances this summer. The deviled eggs were made with a sweet relish and sprinkled liberally with paprika, and they were very happy making. The potato salad was tasty–I mean, it had bacon in it, how could it not be tasty?–but it just couldn’t beat the Roche Bros. deli version we’ve become maybe a bit too fond of. It was a bit drier than I like, and the potatoes were smashed, instead of sliced, but we finished it all up in no time, so it couldn’t be too bad, right?

Devils and Potatoes

All the food came out super fast, which was nice because I was starving. Mr. X ordered the aforementioned Cuban Reuban, and it looked impressive. Really, really impressive. So impressive that I can’t believe I didn’t score a bite! What was I thinking? Anyway, Mr. X called it a kick ass sandwich or something similar so I know it was good. And unlike me, he is a sandwich aficiando and knows what he’s talking about. I can say that it was loaded with meat and melted cheese and looked very messy.

Cuban Reuban

My veggie torta didn’t look nearly as impressive, but that should not reflect on it’s taste. It really was like a burrito in sandwich form, and we all know how obsessive I am about burritos. The bread was perfectly toasted. The innards were wet enough to hold the sandwich together, but not so messy it was impossible to hold. I enjoyed it thoroughly, but I gotta say, it wasn’t heavenly. The guacamole had that citric-acid-not-limes taste that leads me to think it wasn’t homemade. There was a little too much lettuce and a little too much roasted red pepper. And the coleslaw on the side, which I’m not a big fan of, was so wet that it’s vinegary sweet juices kind of got all over my sandwich.

Veggie torta

But damn, the pickle served on the side made up for any shortcomings. We had a Rachel Ray moment when we realized you could really taste the dill! In a good way! They were crisp and cold and perfectly pickled and yum. Yuummm. Piiiiiickles.

Was it a mistake to get a veggie sandwich? Quite possibly. The glimpses I got of the meat-laden sandwiches coming out of the kitchen looked way more appealing. And the veggie torta wasn’t even bad! Saturday was patty melt day, and they looked drool worthy. And if the meatloaf sandwich wasn’t advertised as being spicier than holy hell, I would’ve loved a crack at that. A lot of places don’t do veggie sandwiches particularly well, and I suspected that might be the case before I even ordered it. And again, it wasn’t even bad! I’m just a picky bitch.

Also tempting? Skinny french fries covered in melted jack cheese. If it weren’t for the overload of chili cheese fries the night before, I would’ve been all over that shit. Cheese fries are like crack to me, but they make me feel bad so I knew I couldn’t indulge twice in one weekend. Bummer.

Overall, the All Star Sandwich Bar gets thumbs up, and if I lived any closer, I’d probably come back often. They offer take out if you can’t find a spot in the small dining area, and I bet they do a booming lunch during the week. And while they offered us free Oreos and pretzels after our sandwiches (which Mr. X got mad at me for refusing–sorry, baby!) it was pretty sweet to hit up Christina’s next door for a scoop of Mexican Chocolate ice cream.

All Star Sandwich Bar, 1245 Cambridge St, phone 617.868.3065

(We also walked down to Christina’s Spice Shop two doors down and were blown away by it’s awesomeness. In fact, the proximity of excellent sandwiches and hard-to-find spices might be enough to drag me out to Inman on a fairly regular basis. I found orange flower water, pomegranate molasses, za’atar, seven kinds of sea salt, telicherry pepper, star anise, 30 varieties of dried chilis…it was almost overwhelming. And the best part? The prices. We will so be back.)

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