Can we hear it for the sandwich? A well-crafted one deserves as much respect as a well-composed plate. Handheld, messy and relatively cheap, it delivers an instant synergy of flavors and textures in a single bite.
Sandwiches are at the center of Press 195, the Long Island offshoot of a Brooklyn original. Hardly a grab-and-go, this is a strikingly attractive spot with a well-chosen roster of brews and wines.
Piping hot Belgian fries are toasty, crunchy, irresistible. Order as an appetizer or side (dipping sauces cost an extra 75 cents). A somewhat healthier opener is a baby arugula salad with roasted beets, shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano and lemon-Dijon vinaigrette. Soups change daily; two hearty winners are beef barley and spicy chicken-black bean.
Does it get any better than a potato knish that's split and stuffed with pastrami, sauerkraut, Swiss cheese and roasted red pepper dressing before being grill-pressed? A version made with grilled vegetables is almost (but not quite) as grand.
Favorites among hot press sandwiches: No. 10 (Prosciutto di Parma, fresh mozzarella, tomato), No. 9 (a hearty combo of house-roasted pork, cilantro, Monterey Jack, onions, jalapeños and roasted garlic spread) and No. 28 (grilled eggplant, roasted red pepper, smoked Gouda and roasted garlic spread).
An appetizer of grilled asparagus, underripe tomato and mozzarella is drizzled with a cloying maple syrup-basil pesto.
Sandwich No. 23, made with grilled lemon chicken, spinach and fontina is undone by overcooked poultry.
The grill-pressed banana bread dessert comes off as surprisingly dry, despite fresh banana and strawberry slices, maple syrup, ice cream and candied walnuts. A Ghirardelli double chocolate brownie sundae features an overheated brownie and aerosol whipped cream.
Customize your sandwiches to achieve your own definition of well-priced gratification.