Second Helpings

Vert Kitchen is no white-bread sandwich joint

When I make a sandwich, it is an admittedly pathetic (though oddly comforting) thing: two slices of white bread laid with two slices of individually wrapped American cheese, thrown in the nuker and microwaved for ten seconds. That's it. I call it my white-trash grilled cheese.

When Noah Stephens or Emily Welch make a sandwich at Vert Kitchen, it is something else entirely. House-roasted turkey, cut thick and laid between the halves of a short baguette with chèvre, pine nuts, greens and roasted, marinated tomato. An entrecote sandwich with herbed skirt steak, leaves of bitter, peppery arugula and walnut mustard. A simple BLT on toasted bread with those same excellent tomatoes, butter lettuce, thick slabs of bacon and slices of fresh mozzarella. Tortilla española — a potato omelet, squished between two halves of a crusty baguette, topped with Manchego cheese and lubricated slightly with a bit of aioli. Braised pork shoulder with paprika.

Vert is part of the new breed of gourmet-sandwich operations in town, run by chefs with impressive pedigrees (both Stephens and Welch trained in Paris, then went to the University of Denver to major in international studies) who have committed to running their deli operation along the lines of a proper French kitchen. Everything that can be is made from scratch, from ingredients that are local, seasonal or both.

But while the menu looks excellent on paper, the individual sandwiches are not always perfectly executed, as I found when I stopped by for a big to-go order (Vert also has a few tables). The entrecote, though nicely balanced with the bite of fresh, powerful arugula, was difficult to eat simply because the skirt steak was a bit tough and resisted my best attempts at tearing it to pieces with my teeth. The crusts on the baguette rolls can be hard, particularly at the end of the day, making them occasionally difficult to bite through. And when I did make it through, I found the tortilla española pretty bland.

Still, these were minor quibbles. When I'm in the mood for something a bit fancier than my own white-trash grilled cheese — say, the house's amazing curried chicken salad with bits of apple, currants, cashews and tarragon — Vert is high on my list of high-class Denver sandwich joints.

KEEP WESTWORD FREE... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Jason Sheehan
Contact: Jason Sheehan

Latest Stories