Chicken Aïoli – Wolfgang Puck Bistro, Logan International Airport, Boston, MA

There’s always a question of how much context is relevant to the overall sandwich, as I relate it to you. No sandwich exists in a vacuum, and try as we might there are things that have an impact on how we feel about a sandwich that are not the sandwich itself. Price, restaurant quality and cleanliness, reputation, all of these and more influence expectations, which in turn influence how a sandwich is received. The reason I raise this point now is that I’m uncertain whether this was a good sandwich, or a good sandwich for an airport. I wasn’t in the best of ways when I ate this, I was in the middle of a journey home, the sky was a uniformly dull grey, I was worn out after a fruitful vacation, and possessed with the irritability developed by any sensible person who finds themselves in an airport. So it seems reasonable to me that I might get a halfway decent sandwich in an airport and be so soothed that I rate it much higher than it deserves. At the same time, I don’t want to hand this sandwich an unfair discount. It’s a tough call, but I think I can say with some degree of certainty that this was a good sandwich, full stop. Moist chicken, flavorful bread, fresh romaine, tomatoes, red onion and cheese. The cilantro aioli gave things a smooth cilantro flavor, neither overpowering nor being overpowered. It was certainly the best sandwich I’ve had in an airport, and one I think  I would be pleased to have on a warm afternoon in a more pleasing environment.

Beef on Weck – All Star Sandwich Bar, Cambridge St, Cambridge, MA

The Beef on Weck at All Star Sandwich Bar

A cousin to the french dip in spirit but not in provenance, the Beef on Weck is a favorite of western New York and generally isn’t found outside of the Northeast. It contains only one ingredient: Slow roasted beef. What distinguishes it from the ordinary roast beef sandwich is the kimmelwick roll, topped with caraway seeds and kosher salt. What distinguishes this specific sandwich from others is that All Star Sandwich bar roasts their beef in-house. The beef on the sandwich is hot, juicy and tender and it really raises the sandwich to another level. This is a good thing, as there are no other ingredients to hide behind, no cheese to mask the taste, nothing to salvage sub-par execution. It is served with au jus and authentic horseradish, not the miserable creamed stuff. The All-Star Sandwich bar walks a tight rope with their Beef on Weck but manages a stellar routine.