Swich’s ‘wiches Are a Notch Above the Rest

When I encounter restaurants that are trying to be cool, I usually turn and run for the hills. Fancy fonts, aggressive graphic designs, and cutely-named dishes are big red flags in my book, and I have a general rule that the more bells and whistles a restaurant has on its website, the worse its food is going to be. If you’re spending time on Flash animating a dancing cat in a chef’s hat rather than on perfecting your food, you need to get out of the restaurant business.

So by all rights Swich on Maiden Lane near Gold Street should have scared me off. The design screams “WE ARE A TRENDY PLACE TO GET A SANDWICH!” The menu offers “Deconstructed” sandwiches instead of salads. The website features a cartoon history of the place. Danger, Will Robinson!

But “the exception proves the rule,” as idiots are fond of saying. Despite the worrisome signs, Swich delivers interesting and well-made food that’s worth checking out.

Let me head off the irate comments at the digital pass: Swich is pricey. If a $6.75 grilled cheese is going to give you indigestion, don’t bother. Sandwiches here start at $5.95 and go as high as $8.95. The sandwiches are creative and the quality is very high, but I know some people just won’t pay these prices. And I understand that. Just don’t say you haven’t been warned.

The part of the menu that doesn’t contain the prices is pretty delightful. There are some interesting choices like the Casablanca (smashed chickpeas, roasted red pepper, watercress and eggplant-mint spread on wheat) or the karate chicken (roast chicken in karate sauce with chopped carrots and slivered almonds on French bread). I have no idea what karate sauce is, but it sounds pretty good to me. In addition to these, the more traditional sandwiches all have that extra ingredient — apples, fresh herbs, olive tapenade, etc. — that separate the men from the boys in the world of sandwiches.

I said the quality is very high and I meant it. For my sandwich, I had the Trojan Horse ($8.75), which was ground lamb with tomato, tzatziki, and fresh mint on rosemary focaccia. I kid you not, I did one of those first bite double-takes that actors do in food commercials to indicate how good something is. The ground lamb tasted like it had just been cooked, the tzatziki seemed just-made, and the focaccia was perfect. All Swich sandwiches are grilled in a panini press, and mine was hot throughout and had that perfect crunchy exterior. Sandwich nirvana.

Everything else I had was great as well. Sandwiches come with a small cup of edamame dressed in lemon and mint. It’s not a tough dish to pull off well, but it’s so good that I made it myself at home the next day. It really is a small cup and so doesn’t do much to mitigate the prices, but it’s nice that they thought of something more creative than just tossing in a lousy shrink-wrapped pickle. Plus they give you one of those tiny ice cream-tasting spoons to eat it with. I know it’s weird, but I love those things.

I also splurged on a bag of Swich’s homemade sweet potato chips. At $1.95 a bag, they’re comparable to any other potato chips you find around here, only WAY better. I’ve got to assume they make them daily, because they really are homemade, and I don’t think they could last much longer than that. They are oily and salty, but in a really good way. Definitely a thumbs up, and I’d consider stopping by just for these.

There’s regular homemade potato chips as well in case the sweet variety doesn’t do it for you, and there’s an Israeli couscous side dish that I’ll be trying on my next trip. And there will definitely be a next trip. Though the prices aren’t the best, good sandwiches are shockingly hard to find down here. The cost at Swich clearly reflects to some extent the quality of ingredients and the amount of care that goes into the food. It’s not a bargain by any means, but you get what you pay for.

THE + (What somebody who likes this place would say)

  • Some of the best sandwiches downtown in terms of ingredients and preparation.
  • Creative ideas for sandwiches and some very nice touches on old standbys.
  • Good options for sides that are as well thought-out and prepared as the sandwiches.
  • Free edamame!

THE — (What somebody who doesn’t like this place would say)

  • Too expensive, end of story.
  • They’re trying a little too hard with the design, cute names, etc.
  • I hate panini and want my sandwich cold on untoasted bread, which Swich doesn’t offer. (Note — I haven’t actually asked if you can get any of the panini untoasted, but there are no “regular” sandwiches on the menu at all.

Swich, 83 Maiden Lane @ Gold St., 212-809-9800



  • Completely adorable.

  • I just passed by this the other day! I’ll have to make a trip out there and see what they have to offer.

  • Had to do a double take. Photos are awesome… thought for a minute daniel was back.

    I love sandwiches but the fancy places usually dont do it for me.
    Today is a good day for Banh mi… mmmm.

  • No offense Monique but are you crazy??? Today’s a good day for Cafe Ramen! Pho! Noodles in soup! Not banh mi.

    (I had banh mi yesterday and while delicious, just does not warm one up to the core! which is what I want in this weather. lol.)

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    Awesome! I live downtown so I’ll definitely be checking this place out!

  • they have one around the 20s I think too. I enjoyed the sandwich I got from there, but no double take for me

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    I have been going to the Swich on 8th and 15th since it opened 3 years ago. Definitely too expensive to go to that often but I grab a sandwich there maybe once per month. You are right on about the fresh ingredients and good bread.

    You can get sandwiches unheated. I do not love paninis in general, but that is not the reason I sometimes get them unheated… sometimes I buy one on the way home from work at like 6 pm but do not want to eat until 8, so I just heat it up in my own oven and usually press it down just a little bit.

    My favorite is also the Trojan Horse. I like the Buffalo Hot Pants, as a much healthier alternative to ordering wings and blue cheese on game nights sometimes. The Steak Bolero is pretty good too, the steak tastes well marinated.

    As far as expensive cutesy sandwiches go, I think I actually may like this better than ‘wichcraft, which has fancier ingredients but generally poor execution.

  • Big B 0 I’m right there with you on ‘wichcraft, but I have to say that I’ve really enjoyed their breakfast sandwiches the times I’ve had them.

    I also liked the edamame so much that I went home and made it myself. It doesn’t really require a recipe, but you can read my thoughts on my blog: http://foodjunta.com/2009/12/14/edamame-with-lemon-and-mint/

  • The downtown reviews are good, but you gotta buddy up with some people to try a sampling of different dishes. Far too many of these one-dish-reviews…

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