No. 56: The Rare Beast Sandwich at Salt & Grinder 3609 West 32nd Avenue 303-945-4200
When Salt & Grinder first opened in the West Highland neighborhood in June, owner Frank Bonanno had this to say about what makes a perfect deli sandwich: "A ton of meat, sliced to order and paper-thin; shredded iceberg lettuce; paper-thin, sliced tomatoes; and a slightly crunchy, soft and toothsome hoagie roll."
The Rare Beast lives up to that vision, with no fancy sauces, trendy greens or over-thought bread -- just the pure flavor of roast beef with enough fresh vegetable crunch and acidity to brighten the palate and just a smear of plain old mayonnaise.
Although Salt & Grinder will soon be rolling out a variety of Bonanno's own cured meats for its sandwiches, right now the roast beef is one of only a few house-made deli meats on offer. And what a roast beef it is: cooked gently and seasoned subtly, the texture is more akin to salmon sashimi or lox. It's sliced thin and piled thick so that every bite is perfectly tender, offering no resistance between halves of a Grateful Bread grinder roll made to Bonanno's specifications. That bread is soft and chewy, but firm enough to stand up to the fillings.
Deli roast beef is often overpowered by a thick crust of black pepper, garlic or other spices, but at Salt & Grinder, the beef is allowed to stand on its own. And the name Rare Beast is appropriate; the meat is bright pink all the way through. Each sandwich comes with a choice of a side; for this beast we recommend the orzo and arugula salad -- a tangle of baby arugula and creamy orzo lightly dressed in oil, with just a hint of lemon and a punch of Parmesan.
In advance of the Best of Denver 2015, we're loading our plates with contenders for the best dishes in the city. And over the next few months, we'll be sharing many of them with you, counting down (in no particular order) one hundred of our favorite dishes before the the Best of Denver 2015 hits the streets on March 26. In the meantime, if there's a dish you think we need to try, tell us about it in the comments section below, or shoot us an e-mail at email@example.com.
Hungry for more? All the dishes in our 2014 countdown are linked below.
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