All You Can Eat
Seattle Times food writer Nancy Leson serves up the best info and tips on Northwest food, cooking, dining and restaurants.
August 12, 2008 8:20 AM
Posted by Nancy Leson
The other day my neighbor Clint stopped by bearing edible gifts -- again! Man, that guy can cook. I never know what he's going to show up with, but this much I do know: it's gonna be great. One day it's a rack of slow-smoked barbecued ribs with a quart jar of homemade barbecue sauce infused with peaches, chipotles and bourbon. The next it's homemade pho with fresh Vietnamese herbs on the side. One month it's pickled daikon; the next, preserved lemons. I won't soon forget Clint's incredible chili: it was the best I've ever tasted. His secret ingredient? Peanut butter. And then there was the pie whose key-lime custard came bejeweled with candied lime peel and crowned with meringue. It was so good, my husband nearly wept. Then, last week, just when I was clanging on the keyboard thinking, "I'm starving! What's for lunch?" Clint came knocking on my door with this:
Say hello to a barbecued pork sub, made with meat from a 14-pound pork shoulder. After 16 hours smoking in his Japanese Kamado -- precursor to the popular Big Green Egg -- that hefty shoulder had shrunk to half its size. Soon thereafter, Clint pulled, sauced and layered the pork on a honking French roll, stuffed it with homemade slaw and presented it to me because, well, because he's Clint and he loves to share the wealth.
But he's far from the only guy known to smoke a mean pork product, layer it on a toasted roll, serve it up with housemade slaw and bring a blissful smile to my face. Case in point: this glorious grinder, courtesy of Mitch Gilbert -- the hands behind Grinders Hot Sands in Shoreline:
At Grinders, my standing order has long been the Gilbano -- tri-tip steak grilled with onions, garlic and spicy Mama Lil's Peppers. Layered with melted mozzarella and a hit of Gorgonzola, it's caught between the crisp-crusted, soft-centered confines of an Italian roll and served with sprinkling of fresh basil, a knife and fork, and the promise that "You'll never want a Philly again." Oh, don't be so sure, Mitch -- I'm a Philadelphian born and raised! But I'm also here to tell the rest of you: when it comes to steak sandwiches, it doesn't get a whole lot better than this one, below [note: it's an aerial view -- that thing was huge!]:
But back to the BBQ Pork Grinder. The pork sandwich -- like the Gilbano and the Italian sausage- and meatball-laden "SauBall," with its seriously garlicky marinara -- costs $9.95. Each is food enough for two, especially if you save room (and you should) for bread pudding. Unlike Clint, who reserves his booze for his barbecue sauce, Mitch and his mom (that gorgeous broad in the kitchen) kick up their bread pudding with enough whiskey to put hair on your chest.
"Hey Mitch! You got any catfish?" yelled a patron from the far corner of the room, as the sand-man kibbitzed with a couple hanging at the kitchen counter discussing the latest act to play at Grinders' "Hot Jam" Saturday nights. "Fresh for you! It just came in!" Mitch shouted back, keeping his eye on his youthful crew who prepared to fry-up that catfish, dusted with Creole seasoning and slathered with remoulade as a powerful 'Po Boy -- the perfect accompaniment for those evenings when the beer and wine flows and everyone lets the good times roll.
Grinders keeps retrained hours: they're open for "Hang Out or Take Out" Wednesdays through Saturdays from 11 a.m. till 8 p.m., leaving the other days free for private parties.
Anybody else been? What's your favorite hot sand?
Posted by m
10:44 AM, Aug 12, 2008
honey hole on capitol hill: chachi's (turkey) with bacon
barriga llena on aurora: toluquena - carne asada and chorizo
mischou(sp?) in the market - sierra chicken with gouda
all are excellent and yummy!
Posted by AVID
10:51 AM, Aug 12, 2008
THE best sandwich is still at Primanti Bros. in Pittsburgh.. ("Picksburgh" to the locals there)
Every "sammich" comes with fries and coleslaw inside the layers of meat and cheeses. You can get some on the side too, if you want them.
And they sell shirts that say "Bite Me"
Posted by Ballard Boy
12:07 PM, Aug 12, 2008
Got to be the Egg Sandwich at Bad Alberts! I'm so happy Steve has put it on the regular lunch/dinner menu so I can have it any day of the week! Fried egg, thick cut smoked bacon and aged chedder on a tender french roll. Simple yet elegant.
Posted by W
1:46 PM, Aug 12, 2008
The Rajun' Cajun at The Other Coast Cafe in Ballard is hard to beat!
Posted by Digital Sasquatch
2:54 PM, Aug 12, 2008
Fool yourself into thinking you're eating responsibly: the chicken cheesesteak at Tat's. With pepper-jack cheese...and when they ask if you want sweet or hot peppers, the correct answer is "yes."
Posted by Dan Riley
8:24 PM, Aug 12, 2008
How do we get you, me and Clint to start a take restaurant?
Sounds like the guy can cook. You can be out front and
I can get people to show up, (marketing).
But seriously, how do you get a guy like Clint to allow
someone like you or me to get him to start making and
selling his key lime pie to anyone? If you make something
as good as you say it was, why not set up to make more
of them and market the crap out of it?
Posted by Chuck
9:22 PM, Aug 12, 2008
The pork belly sandwich at the Baguette Box in Fremont (along with their other offerings - try the hand cut truffled fries) is hard to top.
Posted by Nancy Leson
10:18 PM, Aug 12, 2008
Dan: Years ago, Clint made his living cooking. These days he just does it for fun. His day job? Paid computer geek! (He's great at that, too.)
Posted by papa
10:31 PM, Aug 12, 2008
I quite fancy a sandwich at the lil deli on east lake. I also enjoy pb on burgers!
Posted by ORB
7:51 AM, Aug 13, 2008
I'm glad to hear that there are others who find Grinder's sandwiches a strong enough pull to counter the hesitation to pay for the gas to drive to Shoreline; any interest in starting a food-lover's carpool to Grinder's and other favorite eateries in the outer regions? Luckily, however, Grinder's is outside of the city limits so I can say the best hot sandwich in Seattle is still the #1 at Paseo's. Other solid contenders are the Other Coast Cafe, Tubs Subs, and the Elliott Bay Pizza Company.
Posted by Heaz02
8:28 AM, Aug 13, 2008
Tubs Subs of Lake City does not get enough credit! I also agree that Baguette Box, and honey hole are good options.
Listen to Nancy at 5:30 a.m. and 7:30 a.m. during Morning Edition, at 4:40 p.m. during All Things Considered and again the following Saturday at 8:30 a.m. during Weekend Edition on KPLU 88.5.