In this entry I will be comparing three of Atlanta's gourmet sandwich shops. With sandwiches hovering around the $10 mark, it's truly a testament to how many rich-folk there actually are that three sandwich shops of this caliber can stay in business in this economic downturn. And while I would generally scoff at a $10 sandwich for lunch, you can't help but notice the quality of ingredients and careful preparation of each of the contenders in this battle.
You may remember my last review of Star Provisions (Provisions To Go). I've found that one's experience at SP is directly influenced by one variable - the item ordered. Do yourself a favor and just order the Shrimp Po'Boy. It is absolutely the best sandwich I've ever had. Six freshly fried jumbo shrimp line the bakery fresh hoagie roll. Every single ingredient symphonically melds in this masterpiece and the quality couldn't be higher. The buttery, soft bread. The creamy and flavorful cajun remoulade/mayonaise. Those 6 fresh, enormous, crunchy, perfectly seasoned and succulent shrimp. It's just too good. At $9.95, it's a steal - you can't even get 6 shrimp this size anywhere in Atlanta.
Not my most appetizing picture to date...
Other honorable mention goes to Provisions To Go's chicken sausage biscuit. Only available on Saturdays, the over-sized biscuit (cats don't have heads this large) is extremely flavorful and topped with housemade preserves whose sweet notes balance out the salty sausage patty and biscuit. Other items at SP have been hit or miss.
Being tempted by yet another Shrimp Po'Boy, I made it out to Decatur's epicurean sandwich stand (and deli counter), Sawicki's. Their version of the Shrimp Po'Boy is very good but just can't stack up to SP's. Four medium sized, freshly fried shrimp are served on a baguette. While the green's are nicer than Star Provision's the flavor and textures just can't measure up. Sawicki's shrimp just aren't seasoned as well and they don't hold up against the tougher bread choice.
I also had a chance to sample Sawicki's "Definitive Cuban." This version of a cuban was excellent and the mildly sweet, and almost greasy bread was outstanding. The filling ingredients were also terrific but I have one complaint. When looking at a crossection, the pickles took up an equal amount of space as the meat. That bothered me. While the pickles were outrageously delicious, I think thinner slices would really put this sandwich over the top.
Lastly, I made it over to Hector Santiago's latest entry into the gourmet sandwich game - Super Pan Latino Sandwich Shop (whew that was a moutful). While I've only had one sandwich there, the hype surrounding this joint is incomprehensible. I mean seriously, every blogger is dangling from Hector's unmentionables like some foodie groupie whores. While the ingredients in my sandwich were undeniably high quality, the flavor and particularly moisture were lacking. The medio dia (the shop's signature and highly touted sandwich) was on a very narrow, very dry pineapple (I couldn't taste any) roll. The berkshire pork was completely dried out and underseasoned but the pork cracklin was a delicious stroke of genius as were the slightly spicy chayote pickles. They also wrap their sandwiches in banana leaf prior to putting them on the press, which is also a nice touch. I would have to say that the hype is unwarranted for this $11 sandwich.
While both Sawicki's and SP's sandwiches warrant the big price tages, the Shrimp Po'Boy at Provisions to Go reigns supreme in this battle. You don't even have to take my word for it- get over there and try it for yourself - it's one of the best items I've ever eaten. The Po'Boy is definitely worth mingling with some of the snooty clientele.