The chicken sandwich at Cook's Scratch Kitchen & Bakery has something most chicken sandwiches lack: excitement. Tucked into a crusty baguette are slices of moist, house-roasted chicken (from a local poultry farm), house-pickled vegetables, sriracha aioli and fresh herbs. A single bite can make your eyes fly open. All for only $8.
Little thrills such as this happen regularly at this counter-serve breakfast and lunch eatery. That's because co-owners and brothers Josh and Dave Cook share a vision with chef Stacey McDevitt: Source ingredients carefully and, when possible, locally. And make just about everything from scratch.
One morning is jump-started by McDevitt's tender waffles studded with pecans. A classic ham and egg breakfast sandwich comes on a house-baked English muffin, large and light, stuffed with rustic country ham, melted Gruyère, arugula, Dijon mayonnaise and organic scrambled eggs. Hard to say which is better, that or the egg and Cheddar sandwich on a flaky house-made biscuit. Or the ambrosial French toast (made with bread from the excellent Tom Cat Bakery in Astoria) with warm maple butter.
The lunch menu features "dueling Reubens" -- the "traditionalist," made with corned beef, sauerkraut and melted Swiss grill-pressed on rye, versus the "hipster," done with house-cured smoked pork, Gruyère, stout mustard and fennel kraut on grilled sourdough. Both win.
Then, there's the salmon sandwich -- essentially a BLT with house-cured salmon, arugula and herb aioli on seven-grain bread. Lox and bacon? Hey, it works.
The spirited "superfood" salad combines baby spinach, endive, roasted beets, apples, crumbled goat cheese and toasted walnuts in a surprisingly noncloying berry-balsamic vinaigrette. The soup of that day is a cool, bracing puree of greens that honors the season.
Conclude with one of McDevitt's irresistible finales, such as creamy panna cotta with fresh strawberries. Or a moist, chewy white-chocolate blondie. Or an inspired doughnut muffin. Whatever -- it's all good.
More accurately, terrific.