Welcome back to The Bite, Sheepshead Bites’ weekly column where we explore the foodstuffs of Sheepshead Bay. Each week we check out a different offering from one of the many restaurants, delis, food carts, bakeries, butchers, fish mongers, or grocers in our neighborhood. If it’s edible, we’ll take a bite.
Today we visit a rare breed: a true butcher shop. Yes, over on Avenue X just off Coney Island Avenue there is a real butcher where you can find meat cut to order, sandwiches made by request and a small smattering of groceries.
Now The Bite hasn’t gotten into cooking yet, so I was looking for something I could eat right there in the store. Frankly, there weren’t too many options. This is a butcher shop, not a restaurant, after all, so I decided to check out the deli counter.
At John’s Meat Market they still make their own roast beef. Unlike most deli counters in the neighborhood, they haven’t been completely taken over by the evil Boar’s Head corporation.*
Here they do it old school.
In-store roasted roast beef, sliced to order. Lightly seasoned then cooked rare, this roast beef is tender, flavorful and moist, even when cold, which is essential for the deli counter. And that’s how you’ll get it at John’s – cold.
Hot or cold? That is the question.
Here in The Bay, we have two of the city’s most famous roast beef emporiums, Roll-n-Roaster and Brennan and Carr. Both serve their roast beef sandwiches hot and dipped in au jus. But the delis and bodegas in our hood serve their roast beef cold. Which is best?
There’s arguments for both. Heat helps bring out the flavors of an ingredient, while the cold numbs the senses. A warm sandwich can use that as a crutch, offering up a poorer cut of beef with less seasonings. The heat can trick the mouth to think it’s consuming a more flavorful product than it actually is.
If the product is cold, the quality and flavorings of the ingredients have to really stand out for you to taste them and appreciate them properly. Tenderness also becomes an issue as the fibers in the cold meat pull back and toughen. It’s harder to make a cold sandwich taste and feel good. It takes balls to serve food cold.
So? Hot or cold? A cold roast beef sandwich is a great to-go meal. I can eat one of these driving or on the train. The warm roast beef dipped in au jus of Roll-n-Roaster and Brennan and Carr fame is more suited to a sit down meal with lots of napkins at the ready.
Today I was on the road. Cold it is. For a mere $5.00, John’s Meat Market serves up one of the tastiest roast beef sandwiches in town. Hot or cold. I got mine topped with roasted red peppers and provolone. Be there or be square.
John’s Meat Market, 2667 Coney Island Avenue, (718) 743-5770
*Boar’s Head makes a quality product and is my favorite mass-produced line of cold cuts and is truly not an evil corporation. Hopefully they can take a joke.