Yes, I ordered a $14 pastrami sandwich at a high-end butcher shop. Feel free to call me pretentious or sue me; I’ve heard it all before, and I won’t deny the label. I gawked at the price tag when I first perused the menu, but hitting up a shop on the day it opened meant slim sandwich pickings.
One of the first foods that comes to mind when I want something simple is the pastrami sandwich. The smoky, unctuous delight should coast off the seasoning and fattiness of the meat and the tingle of Dijon mustard when done right. However, numerous restaurants and sandwich shops butcher this classic by using low-grade meat and bread, or getting too avant-garde with accoutrements. There’s a time and a place for that, but such a sandwich should have a more fanciful title than “pastrami.”
When I want a pastrami sandwich, I’m not looking for a fancy nouveau delight. I want satisfying slabs of meat on top of artisan bread that forms a gut-bomb that isn’t an indulgence, but rather a necessity. The brand new St. Paul Meat Shop makes a great case for the hefty price of their pastrami sandwich, because it meets all of my qualifications.
Three ingredients comprise the sandwich: pastrami, whole grain Dijon mustard and wheat bread (the menu states that it’s served on rye, but with the first day rush, it’s likely that they ran out or didn’t receive a shipment). For those looking for mammoth-sized munchies, the sandwich isn’t that. Sounds like a rip off for $14, right? Wrong. The pastrami is the best in town, superlative intended. While it’s clear that the St. Paul Meat Shop uses only the best meat for their porcine delight, it’s the meat’s seasoning that makes it swing a sweet, low smoky ballad of flavors.
The Dijon mustard’s zing contrasts with the bottom-heavy pastrami, and the unassuming yet tasty wheat bread rounds things out. Like other famous trios, each member’s function is integral, and none of their parts are over or underplayed.
If you’re still hesitant to order a $14 pastrami sandwich, I have good news for you; the St. Paul Meat Shop gives a $1 student discount for all sandwiches when you show your student I.D. While $13 may still seem like a hefty price tag for a simple sandwich, it’s worth every cent.