Untamed Sandwiches Unleashes Braised Meats on Midtown
When Sarah announced the upcoming opening of Untamed Sandwiches on 39th, it generated quite a bit of hype. The prospect of a Midtown establishment serving up delicious sandwiches with a selection of braised meats sounded almost too good to be true. I certainly wouldn’t refer to Midtown as the Mecca for delicious or inventive sandwiches, so Untamed Sandwiches was fulfilling a necessary gap. I set a reminder on my phone, so I could get there Day 1 and try it out. I apologize in advance for what can certainly be considered a
more comprehensive much longer review, but there was a lot to be said for Untamed Sandwich.
That morning, I found myself on the Untamed website planning my course of attack. I decided to try The Butt and a side of their roasted baby carrots. I felt like this was a good starting place, and would guarantee that I was more than full when I got back onto my computer to write the review. Untamed was only a short walk from my office, and is just a few doors down from Kati Roll. The interior is really nice, and I think it’s laid out in a pretty efficient manner.
I stepped up to the register, and before I could place my order, I was informed that they were only accepting cash today. Uh oh, that’s a serious problem for me. Fortunately, I looked into my wallet to see $12. This wouldn’t be enough to get my side order, but it was just barely enough to order The Butt (with 2 cents leftover). The cashier assured me the machines we would be up and running in a few hours, which was of little help to me at the time. I stepped aside and watched as the employees put together my sandwich.
Arriving back at my office, I sat down and opened up the sandwich. First impressions – it looks like a mini sandwich. I had watched orders being served in the store, and the sandwiches looked small, but not like this. I presume the tight wrapping had condensed the sandwich to some extent, but the sandwich felt heavy in my hands, so I looked past the initially small serving size.
The Butt is cider braised pork butt, broccoli rabe, pepper jelly, dijon mustard and sharp cheddar. I dug right in and my first thought was a reminder of something I’ve said in the past – I hate broccoli rabe on a sandwich. I know this might be a controversial opinion, but every bite of this sandwich requires either a battle between the gnawing ability of my teeth and the broccoli or a long piece of broccoli rabe being pulled out of the sandwich along with much of the sandwich itself. Putting that aside, the tastes that really stood out to me were everything but the cider braised pork. The combination of broccoli rabe, pepper jelly, and dijon mustard make for an extremely strong flavor which, in my opinion, completely and utterly over-powered the best part of the sandwich – the pork. As the broccoli rabe pulled pieces of the cider braised pork out of the sandwich, I would pick them up and eat them alone. The pork was delicious, packed with flavor and delightfully moist.
Put simply, I found The Butt disappointing. This was a real letdown. Untamed Sandwich was the chosen one, arriving in Midtown with fine braised meats and a stamp of approval from Sarah. I spent the next few hours trying to see where it all went wrong. Was it me? Was I just too soft to enjoy the powerful flavors delivered by The Butt? Was I destined to settle for sandwich mediocrity for the rest of my career? I decided that I wouldn’t let this single experience shape my view of Untamed Sandwich, and I owed it another chance to win back my heart.
Day 2 (The following day)
Determined to find something I liked at Untamed, I convinced my office eating companion to join me on my now second trip to Untamed. He would order the General Zapata and I would order the Hot Goldie so we could go halfsies. Arriving at Untamed, we were greeted with a small note on the front door, “Cash Only Today”. Obviously I didn’t prepare for the fact that the card machines would still be broken, so a quick trip to an ATM in a nearby pharmacy and a $1.75 surcharge fee later and I was back at Untamed.
Unlike the day before, the line this time was long and was not moving quickly but we pressed on. Strapped with cash, I was also able to order the roasted baby carrots which, with the sandwich, came to $16.33. My coworker’s order was called 3-4 minutes before my order, despite the fact that he placed his order immediately after me. Once I got my order, it took me a few minutes to realize they had forgotten my carrots, so I was back at Untamed once again. Seeing as Untamed is only a few days old, I can completely understand having to work out a few kinks.
Back at the office, I dug into the General Zapata first and I was very pleased. I found the combination between the Chicken Tinga and queso fresco to work very well, and was accompanied nicely by the pickled onions, cilantro and radishes.
The General Zapata was far more my speed, and contrary to The Butt, I didn’t find any of the ingredients to be overpowering. Once that had been devoured, I moved onto the Hot Goldie which features grass-fed beef brisket, red onions, sweet & sour cabbage, and a black pepper aioli.
The brisket was very succulent and the sweet & sour cabbage had a strong flavor, but not enough to overpower the flavor of the brisket. The red onions gave it a nice crunch, and the black pepper aioli did exactly what you would imagine – provided a nice peppery flavor to the brisket and cabbage. Overall, I found the Hot Goldie and General Zapata to be far more complete and balanced sandwiches than The Butt.
It’s also worth mentioning that the bread on all of the sandwiches I tried was excellent. It was the perfect blend between crispy and soft, allowing the juices from the meat to penetrate the inner bread without causing the outside to get soggy. Had I allowed my sandwiches to sit any longer, I feel like the bread would have started to fall apart. I could see Untamed posting some sort of Xi’an Famous Foods type warning, suggesting their sandwiches be eaten as quickly as possible.
In addition to the sandwiches, we also tried the roasted baby carrots and Grumpy’s Chili. The roasted carrots were a great side, it came with a pretty hefty portion and they are coated in the delicious Charmoula (or Chermoula) marinade.
For only $4, I thought this was a great deal. Granted, if you pair this with a sandwich, you’ll find yourself far over the ML Limit but it really seemed like a bargain compared to the $6 for Grumpy’s Chili.
So in the end, Untamed Sandwich, when given a second chance, had redeemed itself. Both of the sandwiches I had on Day 2 were very good and I really enjoyed my side of baby carrots. Now, having said that, I still think Untamed is a little expensive. There are plenty of people who can get a $10 sandwich from Untamed and be perfectly full for lunch. However, for those of us constantly fighting on the front lines in the struggle to find balance between quantity and quality, Untamed clearly strives to please more in the way of quality than they do quantity. Regardless, Untamed is here to stay and will remain a popular stop for Midtown Lunchers looking to satisfy their appetite for something unique. Finally, I am extremely excited to see what kind of changes the Untamed team make to the menu and what kind of new meats they bring to the table.
Untamed Sandwiches, 43 West 39th Street (btw. 5+6th) 646-669-9397