At Meat & Co., gourmet sandwiches are just a tool to support the restaurant’s greater purpose: bringing in people to “meat” with good “company.” After a tasty lunch there with a big group on a sunny fall Friday, we think they performed on all fronts.
The sandwich shop is run by the owners of its next-door neighbor, 116 Crown, known for its endless cocktail selection and intoxicating parmesan truffle fries. What Meat & Co. lacks in menu and storefront size it makes up in flavor and composition. Where else will you find a vegetarian sandwich stuffed with barbecue-roasted vegetables, onion frizzle, and feta? Or on the other end of the spectrum, the “God Forbid,” with roast beef, liverwurst, balsamic red onion jam, landaff cheese, sesame, and coriander? Because the spot is committed to sourcing locally, the menu changes based on what’s in season. For Meat & Co.’s hardcore loyal lunch crowd, this is probably a good strategy – it keeps everyone interested and coming back for more.
We brought a crew of hungry girls with us on the five-minute walk from campus and were lucky enough to score some outdoor tables. While aesthetically charming, we wouldn’t recommend hanging out too long inside Meat & Co. at peak lunch hour. The disorganization and crowds make it stressful and sometimes time-consuming (a few of our orders took upwards of half an hour after being given away to another customer accidentally). Instead, we suggest either calling in your order ahead of time or coming on a sunny day and waiting at a table outside for your sandwich. These sandwiches are worth the wait though – maybe all the anticipation even makes them taste better…
By far our favorite sandwich here (and a contender for the best sandwich in New Haven) was the Rick Reuben, which had pastrami, all-day sauce (not sure what that was but we want it all day every day), swiss cheese, cardamom, and braised cabbage slaw. This reinvention of the classic deli sandwich was packed with flavor and we could tell the meat was high quality. For the more adventurous eaters, there’s also the option to get the Rick Reuben with tongue instead of pastrami or get half and half. My Jewish grandma needs to get down here ASAP.
We also loved the steak and cheese, full of juicy ribeye, American cheese, and onions. We appreciated that they didn’t overdo it on the cheese so we didn’t lose any of the delicious meat flavor.
The “God Forbid,” grilled on bread similar to the bread on the Rick Reuben, is another great meat option here. The sweet-and-sour combination with the balsamic red onion jam and the cheese added a kick of flavor to this sandwich.
“The Opposition,” made of chili chicken, chevre, carrot slaw, and blueberry compote wasn’t a huge hit – we found the chicken to be pretty dry, the carrot slaw to be too solid and non-slaw-like, and the chevre overpowering. The blueberry compote and chevre alone on the toasted, flavorful bread would have been a better way to do this sandwich.
While we enjoyed the “Haute Tuna Melt,” we didn’t see a lot of “melt” going on. This sandwich supposedly has American cheese in it, but it was either hardly there or not there at all. The tuna itself was tasty but nothing special – we’d recommend ordering something more exciting.
The “Garden Rustler,” one of Meat & Co.’s bestsellers, was awesome. Rather than typical vegetarian sandwiches that tend to have a Mediterranean flavor, this one was loaded with smoky, tangy barbeque flavor. This sandwich is a serious challenger to the more mainstream vegetarian food in New Haven.
Hold on to the fresh produce, barbeques, and outdoor eating of summer for a little longer and head to Meat & Co. for lunch before we’re all too cold to walk more than a block from campus. Keep in mind that Meat & Co. just changed their hours to stay open until 3am on weekends… if a Rick Reuben tastes this good at lunchtime on a Friday, we can only imagine how much more we’d appreciate it 15 hours later.