Sandwich Sampling on the Shoreline
Yes. We know. It’s all about lobster rolls, pizza, and burgers around here. The lowly sandwich gets short shrift. Sometimes, though, you just need a grab and go that gets it right; good bread, the ratio of ingredients, adequate condiments. Over the years we’ve developed a list of go-tos; a sandwich you may take for granted, but is always tasty and reliable. Here’s our list of the best sammies on the Shoreline.
Tomato Mozz at Coffee’s Country Market, Old Lyme
While some like sandwiches with lots of competing tastes, me, I prefer things simple. And this one, with just a couple of ingredients, is the perfect version of this popular combo. Housemade pesto, slices of creamy mozzarella and fresh tomatoes are stuffed into an onion sprinkled ficelle (fancy for skinny baguette). I know that the rest of the lunch menu is in demand at Coffee’s, hence the lines at lunch, but believe it or not, I’ve never had any of their other sandwiches. Because this is THE ONE. I’ve also been known to buy a bunch and cut them up for hors d’oeuvres for last-minute cocktails. p.s. their classic breakfast sammie: bacon, egg, and cheese on a bulky roll is a winner, too.
The Breakfast Sammie at Ashlawn Farm Coffee, Old Saybrook
Breakfast sandwiches are having a moment, and Ashlawn’s offering an elevated version. Take a straight-out-of-the-oven biscuit, layer a local egg, a slice of Mystic’s Cheese Company’s Melville, and a tasty homemade sausage from Walt’s, and you (like me), will be taking ever smaller bites hoping this deliciousness won’t end. This is one yummy concoction. Besides, it’s just plain fun to hang out at Ashlawn, as everybody knows.
Best Fried Chicken Sandwich at Red House, DeepRiver
Here’s a sandwich that lives up to its name by covering a number of cravings all at once — crispy, spicy, tangy, crunchy. A battered and perfectly fried chicken breast on a Lupi’s Bakery brioche roll with a vinegar slaw, jalapenos, and pimento cheese. It comes with addictive, hand-cut fries but a nice side of mixed greens is probably a sensible decision. Dine in or take out. Available lunch on weekends and dinner M-F.
The Roast Beast at The Food Center at The Marketplace at Guilford Food Center, Guilford
If you’re looking for a slightly daintier or perhaps a ladylike alternative to the old standard Steak and Cheese, the Marketplace has it. Rare slices of roast beef piled high on crusty, chewy Ciabatta with caramelized onions, Gruyere, leafy greens and Horseradish Sauce. This one is big enough to share. Order at the counter to eat in or take out. Open 7 days.
Northern Comfort at Madison Cheese Shop, Madison
When we find ourselves hungry in Madison, we make a point to stop for fancy grilled cheese at Madison Cheese Shop. We’ve sampled a few, and though tough to choose, the Northern Comfort wins the prize. Made to order, they sizzle up the bacon first and then grill the most perfectly crusty/chewy bread with gooey Vermont Cheddar and plump ripe tomatoes between. Hours extend to 9 on Fridays and there’s BYOB. Closed Mondays.
BBQ Brisket Sandwich at The Stand, Branford
We first tried this beauty on a hundred degree day off the old trailer at The Stand before the restaurant was even born. Happy and not surprised to say that it’s still on the menu. An Allen Brother’s artisanal brisket, perfectly smoked overnight with a delicious peppercorn bark and a coffee-based barbecue sauce topped with red pepper harissa on a toasted snowflake roll (that’s a mouthful!). Open 7 days for dinner. Lunch M-F. Brunch on the weekends.
Lobster Grilled Cheese at Bleu Squid, Olde Mistick Village
Bleu Squid is justifiably famous for their grilled cheese in all its incarnations. Their trademark blend of the gooey stuff has just the right amount of tang and stretch. Have it anyway you please from the classic “grown up” (with bacon or ham and tomato add-on) to a veggie take topped with spinach, pesto and roasted garlic. But a standout is the lobster version, studded with fresh chunks of warm lobster, grilled to perfection on thick cut tasty white country bread.
Everything Bagel with Lox at Cohen’s Bagels, Madison
B.C. (Before Cohen’s), finding a fresh, authentic bagel on the shoreline was…impossible. This New York couple knows from bagels; choose from 18 varieties baked on premises daily. I try, but rarely succeed, to stop at half of my favorite combo: everything bagel with lox spread. I’m a traditionalist, (sesame, poppy or everything), but for the thrill-seeker, there’s french toast and blueberry. Tip: Try a Cohen’s smoothie, no weird ingredients, just fruit and low-fat yogurt.
Meatball Sandwich at Wright’s, Centerbrook
Wright’s newish menu presents some tough decisions. Corn Soup? Yes, please. Guac and Housemade Chips? Always. But lately, for me, it’s all about that meatball sandwich. I know meatballs are not for everyone, but hear me out. These smallish babies are a tender and light mix of beef and pork, served with a dollop of tomato sauce, a sprinkle of mozzarella, and some sauteed peppers and onions on brioche. It’s a large portion that can easily be shared, but it is not a leaden meatball sub. There’s actually something almost delicate about it. And oh, so tasty.
Rusty Scupper at Olive Oyl’s, Essex
Olive Oyl’s has been a local go-to for sandwiches for 25 years now. I’ve been ordering the Rusty Scupper all along. Sliced brie, lettuce, tomato and turkey breast piled high on your choice of daily bread options. And here’s the kicker: scrumptious mango chutney. For the complete experience, grab some chips and something fizzy and take this sandwich down to the dock at the CT River Museum to enjoy the view. Good to know: They’re closed on Mondays.