A Sandwich a Day

Reviews of Chicago sandwiches.

A Sandwich a Day: Pork Belly Grinder at Aberdeen Tap

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[Photograph: Sarah Song]

Pork belly is fantastic in any form, but putting it into a sandwich gives me the excuse to stuff my mouth with bites that are far from polite. The open-faced pork belly grinder at the Aberdeen Tap is a two-handed, I-wish-I-had-a-dinosaur-jaw sandwich, that is unapologetically tasty and daringly large. The bread, a big chunky sofa of a roll, is heavily grill-marked on top and bottom and hollowed out Cape Cod-style. Chubby slices of pork belly, striated with fat and strips of chew, are stuffed deep into its cavern. I found the pork just the slightest bit over-cooked, though well-spiced and crispy with char. Sautéed kale imparts some necessary bitterness into the mix, and even more would've been pleasant to balance out the savory meat.

The apple cinnamon butter accompaniment is a standard chunky applesauce, sweet but relatively one-note. Honestly, I misread the sandwich description and was looking forward to a drizzle of melted butter with a hint of apple (that exists, right?). Although the sugariness of the apple cinnamon butter provides the proper counterpoint to the saltiness of the pork and the sharpness of the greens, a more aggressive and complex condiment would take this sandwich over the top (say, a sweet, hot mustard, or a horseradish sauce with bread-and-butter pickles). Even so, it doesn't get much better than crisp fatty meat and the occasional green to keep things "healthy." Kudos to the bread—although the oil from the pork seeps into the roll for some delightfully messy bites, it stayed intact for the entire ten minutes it took for me to inhale the sandwich.

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