807 F Street, East Village
A sandwich shop doesn’t often make for an interesting Feast entry. I can answer questions such as, “Does it carry Boar’s Head or Dietz & Watson deli meats?” And if a shop cares enough about bread, I can tell you which local bakery it sources. But as soon as I walked into East Village’s Big Thyme Sandwich Company, I could tell it would be different.
Part of that is the furniture — most delis don’t bother with solid wood dining tables and chairs. Instead of a glass counter filled with cured meats wrapped in plastic, there’s actually a kitchen, where sandwiches and salads are made out of sight, using more than just a knife and cutting board.
Don’t get me wrong, I love delis. But it intrigued me how Big Thyme has decided to go a different direction with the sandwich-shop model. A look at the menu reveals a little extra thought going into the sandwiches. For example, there’s a Reuben where both the thickly sliced corned beef and Thousand Island dressing were made in-house, served on marble rye (courtesy of Bread & Cie, by the way).
The Italian sloppy joe dishes up a beef Bolognese complete with celery, carrots, and onions. The chicken club, dubbed The 47, tops roasted turkey and apple smoked bacon with heirloom tomatoes, Boston lettuce (kind of like butter lettuce) and a garlic thyme aioli. Breakfast sandwiches are similarly constructed, and there are salads, such as the roasted broccoli, which includes baby spinach, pink lady apples, dried cherries and almonds (bacon optional).
I had a tough time choosing, but I settled on the Cubano Clasico: pork tenderloin, dry aged salami, and smoked ham pressed in a brioche with pickles, Swiss cheese, and mustard. As you might expect, every bite was loaded with flavor, and that’s before dipping it in the almost spicy “homemade mojo sauce” provided.
Even the side dish felt a little adventurous, as I decided to forgo fries in favor of an avocado potato salad with chopped asparagus. It wasn’t outstanding, but it wins points for being unique, matching the consistent creativity and quality of ingredients on display here.
Factoring in vegetarian and gluten-free bread options, Big Thyme feels like a sandwich shop well designed for contemporary eaters, offering meals running $7 to $10 apiece without ever feeling like it’s just going through the sandwich motions.