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.
See also: 100 Favorite Dishes: Chorizo Breakfast Stew at DJ's 9th Avenue Cafe
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 protected]
Hungry for more? All the dishes in our 2014 countdown are linked below.
No. 100: Chile Relleno at La Fiesta No. 99: Gurage Kitfo at Megenagna Ethiopian Restaurant No. 98: Cochinita Pibil at Work & Class No. 97: The Greggers Tongue Sandwich at Olive & Finch No 96: Baum Cakes at Glaze by Sasa No. 95: Goat hot pot from Viet's No 94: Head cheese from Beast + Bottle No. 93: Kettle Chips from Amerigo Delicatus No. 92: Pork Belly Confit at Solera Restaurant and Wine Bar No. 91: Tacos Campechanos from La Calle Taqueria No. 90: Biscuits from Denver Biscuit Co. No. 89: Clams and Chorizo at Gozo No. 88: Aburi Sushi at Sushi Den and Izakaya Den No. 87: Kimchi and Sausage Torta at City, O' City No. 86: Mar y Tierra Molcajete at Paxia No. 85: Crispy Pork Spare Ribs at Table Top No. 84: Chips and Dip at Euclid Hall No. 83: Chile Relleno Burrito at El Taco de Mexico No. 82: Scallop Crudo at Stoic & Genuine No. 81: Ceylon Curry Dosa at Khazana No. 80: The Lambada Torta at La Torteria No. 79: Pork Bulgogi at Dae Gee No. 78: the Pulled Pork Pig Pen Sandwich at Boney's No. 77: IPA Mac & Cheese at Hops & Pie No. 76: Chiles en Nogada at Chili Verde No. 75: Udon Noodle Bowl at Bones No. 74: Cinnamon Rolls at the Duffeyroll Cafe No. 73: Smoked Turkey Croque-Madame at Acorn No. 72: Pickled Lake Michigan Perch at Trillium No. 71: Oysters at Jax Fish House Glendale No. 70: Venezuelan Tostadas at Empanada Express Grill No. 69: Tahini Cauliflower from Biker Jim's Gourmet Dogs No. 68: The Ham and Cheese Tartita from Maria Empanada No. 67: Ronnie's Favorite from Rosenberg's Bagels and Deli No. 66: Shoo-fly Pie from the Long i Pie Shop No. 65: Czech Potato Pancakes at Sobo 151 No. 64: Fried Chicken at the Post Brewing Co. No. 63: Braised Brisket Sandwich at Masterpiece Delicatessen No. 62: The Scotch Egg from Argyll Whisky Beer No. 61: Butternut Squash Ravioli at DiFranco's No. 60: Sesame Balls at Vinh Xuong Bakery No. 59: Curry Puffs at Suvipa Thai Food No. 58: Diavola Pizza at Pizzeria Locale No. 57: Chorizo Breakfast Stew at DJ's 9th Avenue Cafe