Green Emporium’s “Chicago” is a Satisfying Hot Beef Sandwich
Yesterday we introduced you to our newest contributor, Jeremiah. Today, he introduces us to a decent hot beef sandwich from a generic midtown deli.
In many ways, Green Emporium (on 8th Ave. and 48th St.) is just another dime a dozen, sandwich slinging bodega (except for all the flowers out front). They use the same unimpressive ingredients as their counterparts, but I find the sandwiches to be constructed a little better. What really sets them apart though, is the big board of their sandwich creations. There are over 50 of them, hot and cold, with names that range from the obvious and boring (Tuna Melt) to the confounding and intriguing (Matrix – which is unfortunately just turkey and Swiss on whole wheat). The sandwiches are mostly pretty standard (Reuben, Italian Hero, Cheesesteak), but the sheer number of options makes it a pretty reliable place. In addition, a few of the choices stray enough from the ordinary to command my attention… and one of those is the Chicago.
I can only assume the name is a reference to the Second City’s glorious Italian Roast Beef sandwiches, although the similarities are pretty superficial. Regardless, this “Chicago” is grilled roast beef, mushrooms, onions, melted provolone and beef gravy. And when I say “gravy,” I don’t mean jus, I mean gravy – probably from a can. And I’m thankful for that. It’s a little odd and, let’s say, unrefined, but I am definitely convinced more places should offer gravy as a sandwich condiment. As good as jus can be, it has the unfortunate effect of turning a sandwich into a soggy mess. And frankly, I find wet bread pretty revolting. Gravy, on the other hand, is more like a delicious, warm, beef-flavored sandwich spread… almost like a meat mayo.
The sandwich is not extraordinary, but the combination of hot meat, melted, stretchy cheese and gravy provides a simple satisfaction I don’t know if I’ll ever get tired of. The meat is standard sandwich roast beef, but it does the job and melted provolone has never been a bad thing, ever. The mushrooms (which surprisingly don’t appear to be from a can) add a little earthiness to the taste and the onions mix up the texture more than anything else. It’s served on a standard sub roll that stands up just fine to what could be a messy sandwich.
The sandwich is not huge by any means. It’s 9 inches or so and a bit slim. You will definitely not be stuffed but it makes for a decent lunch. At $7.95, it’s a little overpriced- but they do throw in a small bag of Wise potato chips and a pickle spear (wrapped in a little individual bag). The pickle is a crunchy dill but not terribly flavorful. I appreciate that they throw in some extras, but it doesn’t really increase the value much for me, and eating the chips ends up being necessary if you have an appetite like mine (read: like to stuff your face during lunch).
Green Emporium is just a bodega with a sandwich counter. There’s no place to sit, but there are obviously plenty of ways to supplement your lunch (including limited edition Mountain Dew flavors that I’ve had trouble finding in NYC). Like I said, the price for this sandwich is a bit high even with the pickle and chips, but by the time I was done with it, the buyer’s remorse has been chased away by the warmness of meat mayo. Maybe next time I’ll see if they can throw some jalapenos on there for me and try to get it a little bit closer to its namesake.
The + (What somebody who likes this place would say)
- They have a ton of sandwich options, some of which you can’t get at every other deli
- I like to get some extras with my overpriced sandwich
- I want gravy on a sandwich
The – (What somebody who doesn’t like this place would say)
- It’s the same crap you get everywhere else
- It’s the same crap you get everywhere else except more expensive
- Why would you want gravy from a can on your sandwich?
Green Emporium, 781 8th Ave. (at 48th St.)