It hasn't even been a week! Daily Candy wrote a poem, there was a post "by the numbers, " Eater was annoyed it was scooped and the tribune staffed ordered the menu. Grahamwich, we all know, has been the sandwich shop in waiting for months from Chef Graham Elliot. I've known Graham for over 10 years and worked with him closely for the majority of that time. To see the execution of ideas and musings he had years ago become reality, still amazes me after all these years.
I was one of the lucky few to get a golden ticket for the pre-opening day of fun! More like a golden text, if you know Chef he is a huge twitter/text guy. I went with much anticipation and an empty belly. I was told be there about 1pm and I probably walked in at 1:05pm.
The first thing you'll notice is on a dark block, during dark winter days and nights Grahamwich is light, airy and bright introducing you to the 2010 soda fountain. If you forget where you are, the wallpaper, sign and staff t-shirts will remind you you're no longer in Kansas, toto. After congratulating chef and his number one Merlin, I ordered my banh mi (pork belly, pineapple, daikon slaw on French baguette), house made chips, pickled veg - per the order of GE himself, a root beer and a donut. Sitting in the pastry case I dare you to not get a donut especially in the morning!
I grabbed a spot at the communal table with a few others. We all chatted expectantly comparing what we'd ordered. Being the third one in, my food came quick! I popped a chip and grabbed a sip. There's something to be said for food made in house and not prepackaged. Everything is made on site or brought in from Fritz Pastry or Red Hen. The freshness and flavor is readily apparent. I also snuck a bite of pickled vegetables. I have personal issues with pickled veg from my previous kitchen days but these are good and a great healthy alternative for what you find in most sandwich type shops.
At this point the table got quiet, and we all gave each other the eye to see if our own sandwich was as good as what the others had ordered. No one was disappointed. My banh mi was really tasty. The sweet pineapple, fatty pork belly and crisp slaw was a delightful break from the normal sandwich. There's a creamy, spicy element that ties the ingredients together. Most sandwiches end up bring bready and dry, not this bad boy! I inhaled my sandwich and most of my chips, downed my soda and picked through half my pickled veg - that is a victory for vegetables!
I was left staring down my donut. You get the hole thing, get it? I was a bit full but for posterity had to taste for freshness. Ya, the donut didn't last long and I wasn't offering anyone a taste. I can' imagine a more delicious breakfast snack then the French press coffee and one of these bad boys for an early morning. In the summer, when I can walk over, well worth the getting up early.
When you go to Grahamwich there will be a LINE, a long LINE! GE restricted the ordering after opening to 4 sandwiches max per person - make your friends wait with you. Maybe you get lucky and get a seat maybe you don't. In the end, you'll be guaranteed a good size sandwich that's creative AND tastes good. I can't wait to get back and try the rest of the menu.
Couple tips - sides are big enough to share and worth getting. The French pressed coffee to go is BAD ASS in a cup. And feel free to leave some art work on the chalkboard in the bathroom.
615 N. State, Chicago, IL.
Hours: 7am - close daily