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Anyone can make a sandwich. All you have to do is slap together a couple of pieces of bread together with some stuff from the fridge between them. Easy right? Sure, anyone can make a sandwich, but few can make a great one.
The pursuit of a great sandwich is like a quest for the holy grail. Finding the perfect ratio of condiment to topping is crucial, as is the choice of bread. Cheese? No cheese? Heated? Pressed?
Major magazines have dedicated whole issues to the craft of sandwich-making, I’ve heard podcasts grandstanding about the placement of mayo and I won’t even get started on the Twitter debates surrounding the age-old question “is a taco a sandwich?”
Food media loves to sermonize on sammies.
In 2017, Turkey and the Wolf, an inexpensive sandwich shop in New Orleans, made it onto Bon Appétit’s “The Best New Restaurant in America” list, shocking the industry and shifting the way we look at sandwiches. Their fried bologna sandwich is now an icon.
Here in St. John’s, the city’s first self-proclaimed craft sandwich shop just opened and I couldn’t wait to try their creations.
Chef Mike Boyd, an Ontario transplant best known in the city for his cuisine at The Reluctant Chef, and his wife Allison Boyd opened Mickey’s Sandwich Co.mid-June at 302 Water St., which previously housed the short-lived Suriana Syrian restaurant and in a previous life was Junk, a retail and gift shop. Now the decor of the small eatery is paired down with muted-but-trendy-beige walls, hanging ferns and gold accents.
There aren’t many tables at Mickey’s — there isn’t seating for more than 15 people at the wood high-top tables, even less with social distancing measures in place (I appreciated the hand sanitizer and optional masks stationed at the entrance).
What I like most about Mickey’s sandwiches is their simplicity. There’s no over-the-top, piled-too-high, Instagrammable sandwich porn. It’s all about hyper-local ingredients with a great ratio of condiment-topping-bread — the necessary trifecta of the sandwich-making craft.
But when my dining companion and I dropped by for a weekday lunch in their second week of operation, I could tell there were already some regulars. I ran into a few people I knew who were on their third visit. Clearly a spot to grab a sandwich was something that’s been missing in downtown St. John’s.
At Mickey’s, the dedication to this craft is obvious, right down to the luxe brown paper they wrap their sandwiches in. We ordered at the counter, grabbed a seat at the communal high-top and our food arrived shockingly quick on small wooden trays lined with the same brown paper.
My lunch buddy dived into his deli beef stack ($10) with thinly sliced slow-roasted sirloin, a creamy, funky Landwash Brewery beer cheese, hot peppers, LTO (lettuce, tomato, onion — sandwich slang my dining companion was slow to pick up on), Mickey’s house-made mustard sandwiched between fresh herbaceous focaccia. An artist’s vision brought to life.
I chose the crispy chicken ($10) with its huge chunk of fried boneless chicken, a thick swab of buttermilk sauce so rich it was a spread, honey-pickled onions, lettuce and tomato on a soft, round deli bun. If I had to compare this to anything, I could call it a fancy Big Mary, but that doesn’t do justice to either of these delicious sandwiches.
For sides, we shared the lemon kale salad ($4), which presents like a brighter, more summery Caesar with a twinkling citrus vinaigrette, Murray Meadows kale, Parmigiano, red onion and crispy savoury granola that served as an exciting alternative to the cavity crushing croutons usually found in a Caesar salad. The thrice-cooked potato wedges ($4) were everything you want them to be: crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. Enough said.
We both opted for cans of Perrier ($2), but for the same price you could have water, an array of Pepsi products, or a tall glass of tart cherry kombucha from The St. John’s Fermentary which they had on tap (the flavour changes weekly).
What I like most about Mickey’s sandwiches is their simplicity. There’s no over-the-top, piled-too-high, Instagrammable sandwich porn. It’s all about hyper-local ingredients with a great ratio of condiment-topping-bread — the necessary trifecta of the sandwich-making craft. There’s a reason Subway calls their employees “sandwich artists” but Mike Boyd is a master craftsman when it comes to this art.
Mickey’s Sandwich Co. fills a gap in the downtown lunch scene like a really good slab of mortadella between two slices of bread — thin, not showy, but satisfying, and full of flavour.
302 Water St.
St. John's, NL
Hours: Wednesday-Sunday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Closed Monday and Tuesday
Accessibility: There is one low step to enter the eatery, seating is high-tops and stools which may be difficult for some.
Noise level: Low
Meal for two with tax and tip: $41
Gabby Peyton is a freelance food writer based in St. John’s. You can follow her on Twitter and Instagram @gabbypeytoneats.