A major sandwich contender...right down the hall from another one

Image: Slab

Everyone who ingests a steady diet of restaurant blogs knows that Capitol Hill is bursting with new and about-to-be-new eating places.

Drill down to a particular block of Capitol Hill, the Central Agency Building just north of Madison across from Seattle U, and you’ve landed on what’s about to become the sandwich epicenter of…Capitol Hill, for sure (with all due deference to The Other Coast Cafe and The HoneyHole on the 700 block of Pike). All of Seattle, just maybe.

It’s already halfway there, with Slab, Johnathan Sundstrom’s sandwich-and-pie takeout, doing brisk business out of the kitchen it shares with Sundstrom’s Lark and Bitter/Raw. What I tasted when I popped in the other day grabbed my attention like no midday food I’ve had in recent memory: A warm Cubano sandwich whose layers of jamón, smoky pickles, Comté cheese, and crunchy pork confit between soft French bread was a revelation of flavor and balance, even elegance—a restrained commentary on that other Cuban sandwich in town.

Even better, Slab’s Spanish sardine sandwich unites fleshy sardines and feisty pepper relish, brightened with plenty of lemon, inside that wonderful bread. These, alongside some half dozen other sandwiches on any given day, are flat-out stunning—proof that seasoned, high-end chefs really can elevate the most ordinary meal, not to mention hit the ground at full speed. Slab only opened in January, and its menu—including astonishing pies on buttery biscuitlike crusts, and cookies—already has the self-assurance and complexity of a place three times its age.

Sharing Central Agency will be the first U.S. outpost of Meat and Bread, the Vancouver, BC, sensation that brings four daily sandwiches to the waiting hordes, including a porchetta with salsa verde and some serious cult status. Will it be as excessively extraordinary as the porchetta with salsa verde at Rain Shadow Meats Squared in Pioneer Square?

Showdown forthcoming. Meat and Bread is scheduled to open April 13. 


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