Tom Mylan and crew finally opened the long-awaited, counter-serve spinoff to their acclaimed, whole animal butcher shop, offering “the same high-quality, local sourcing and bad ideas as the original Meat Hook… only in sandwich form.” So are Meat Hook’s sandwiches the greatest thing since sliced bread? And are they every bit as off-the-wall as previously promised—and depending on your enthusiasm for “gross vegetarian” options—anticipated? We spoke with chef Gil Calderon about the various components that go into each of his mind-bending creations (because trust us, you’d have to be some sort of super taster in order to identify them all), as well as the complex thought processes that went into each.
The Sandwich: Italian Hero
The Inspiration: It’s a NYC classic. We wanted a sandwich that was like eating two pieces of bread dragged through Di Palo’s Fine Foods store. And, we were producing all of these fantastic deli items at the butcher shop already. Pepperoni, olive loaf, soppressata. Add to that some creamy mozzarella, marinated artichokes, cipollini onions and tomatoes. Plus some finely shredded iceberg lettuce (a must), thinly sliced red onion and a pickled pepper mix that includes some secret peppers a fellow from Portland makes using his mother’s secret recipe. All in all, it’s a sandwich that tastes better the longer it sits.
The Sandwich: Hot Chicken
The Inspiration: We took a trip to Nashville recently. Before leaving, we made it a point to stop and have some authentic Hot Chicken. And if you stop for Hot Chicken you definitely stop. Everything. Mouth-searing goodness. We brought this idea back: hot sauce-brined chicken thighs dredged in flour, fried, then tossed in schmaltz fortified with dried chiles. We made bread and butter pickles with just celery and onion and a “Polynesian Sauce” that’s inspired by the first recipes I found on the internet for Pad Thai sauce, back in the late 90s. There you have it. Anything else on that sandwich and it would be obscene.
The Sandwich: Pastrami
The Inspiration: We make a house pastrami that has been a labor of love since I met Tom in 2007. Trial and error and a lot of disappointing pastramis later, one of our butchers, Madeleine, finally perfected the house recipe. Brined for 10 hours, rubbed for 2, smoked for 3 and steamed for 12. This item will be available on an irregular basis. The sandwich includes our fermented slaw that has pureed kimchi folded into it, as well as American cheese and a dressing that has mayo, ketchup, fish sauce, sesame oil and charred onion. It’s a take on some late nights we’ve had in K-Town, crushing Hites and eating a large, steaming pot of budae jjigae.
The Sandwich: Roast Beef
The Inspiration: We own a butcher store. We love beef. We love simplicity. The idea was to marry a great, rare roast beef with a crunchy potato. Potato chips, a no-brainer. But what if we made a fried potato that was a little more robust, but not a french fry, that would sog after sitting in a sandwich? So we grate Idaho potato and fry hash browns every day. Then add fresh horseradish cream with lots of scallions and black pepper, as well as sharp cheddar and fried red onions for the “why not” factor. Done.
The Sandwich: Sausage
The Inspiration: We will have a rotating selection of sausages available. This week it’s our house Mexican chorizo. It comes with refried beans cooked with chorizo oil and ground avocado leaf, as well as melted cheese, avocado cream, pickled jalapeños, red onion and chilaquiles made from Nixtamal chips and salsa verde that are cooked together and then dehydrated.
The Sandwich: Roast Pork
The Inspiration: I have a good friend from Piedmont who served me vitello tonnato this past Christmas. I loved the simplicity of it, and realized that you don’t see surf ‘n’ turf around here much. Especially not in sandwich form. When customers are looking for veal, we naturally steer them towards pork cuts. We really love the pork we get. The rest of the sandwich was just riffing on “nonna” touches, like wine-soaked golden raisins, shaved fennel, chili oil and bitter escarole greens.
495 Lorimer Street, Williamsburg 718-302-HOOK