Not content with owning baked beans, Massachusetts has invented a unique style of roast beef sandwich, and month-old Bowery Beef is introducing it to skeptical Manhattanites. Dating only to the late 20th century, this isn’t yet a time-honored tradition by either Boston or New York standards, but it’s executed with care by the newcomer and deserves a try, says guttergourmet.
In the fashion of Harrison’s north of Boston, Bowery Beef cooks its meat slowly to platonic rareness, then shaves it thin, shapes it by hand into a thick mound, and lays it onto a hamburger bun. Just as the Yankees signed Johnny Damon from the Red Sox, the new place enlisted a meat master from Harrison’s to oversee the slicing and roasting (the Yanks were rewarded with a world championship; we’ll have to wait and see about Bowery Beef). The default roast beef seasoning around New England, for some reason, is sweet, tart, tomato-based James River barbecue sauce from Virginia. Additional options include mustard, horseradish, and white American cheese. The resulting sandwich is messy, delicious, and “strangely satisfying,” guttergourmet reports (pranksy, who went for full-on fixings, complains that they overwhelmed the meat).
As gg observes, Bowery Beef joins a crowded map of regional American roast beef styles that stretches from coast to coast. Those styles include the jus-dipped sandwiches of Philippe in Los Angeles and Brennan & Carr in Brooklyn and, in between, the vegetable-laden Italian beef at Al’s and Mr. Beef in Chicago. New York is also home to Roll-N-Roaster, which enriches its “roasters” with Cheez Whiz; the venerable Defonte’s, which has been constructing huge beef heroes with house-made mozzarella in Red Hook since 1922 (and in Manhattan since 2009); and the year-old This Little Piggy Had Roast Beef, which pays homage to some of the Brooklyn beef joints. “Now the Bostonians have entered the fray,” guttergourmet notes. “While I may prefer some of the other styles, there is certainly room enough to welcome a unique roast beef sandwich into the ever expanding melting pot.”
Bowery Beef [East Village]
308 Bowery (between Houston and Bleecker streets), Manhattan