My quest begins with two sandwich reviews: an early contender from a hidden gem, and a letdown from one of Portland’s biggest names.
I got an early start on my resolution by hitting Tails and Trotters for lunch on New Year’s Eve, and my search was almost over before 2016 began. As often happens, I found myself in the mood for spicy cured pork products, so I went for the Grinder. T&T’s take on this classic features their house cured coppa, lonza and ham, with shredded iceberg lettuce, spicy fennel relish, aged provolone, and garlic aioli on a toasted Ciabatta roll. And what a treat it was. Delicious house-cured meats, perfectly toasted Ciabatta, and just the right amount of spice from the relish. This was a truly great sandwich. I had to search hard to find fault, and the best I could come up with was that the provolone could be a hint sharper, but otherwise it was superb. I’m always amazed that there isn’t a line around the block for T&T’s sandwiches. Yes, it’s primarily a butcher’s shop and retail outlet for their own pork products, but I’ve never had a bad sandwich from there. And this one was the best yet. Not quite perfect, but not far short either. A solid 8.5 out of 10.
For my next sandwich, I went for the heavyweight champ. Google “Portland’s best sandwich,” and one will appear on every list you find: Bunk’s Pork Belly Cubano. If you’re reading this blog, you probably know all about Bunk already (and if you don’t, you should). The Cubano has been featured on TV and in numerous articles nationwide. It’s a simple yet brilliant recipe – take a classic sandwich and add pork belly to it. This should have been a winner, but I went away slightly disappointed. The sandwich was good, but not great. A touch greasy, and the cheese was too sweet. I’m surprised, because I love Bunk generally, and I’ve had many great sandwiches there in the past. They did a porchetta special a couple of years back that had to be tasted to be believed. But this one didn’t cut it. Given its great reputation, I’ll probably try the Pork Belly Cubano again later in the year and update the score. But for now, all I can do is give it 6 out of 10.
So there you have it. The first two of what will no doubt be many fascinating sandwich experiences in the coming year. Leave your suggestions for my next sandwich in the comments.