Foodie Call #9 took place on Tuesday, July 27, 2010. After over three months since their last foodie adventure, Kate and Gary are back in action, this time trying the New Orleans-influenced offerings of Cheeky Sandwiches in the Lower East Side.
Gary: I’m absolutely aware that of our last four Foodie Calls, Cheeky Sandwiches is the third sandwich shop (we include BaoHaus in this count) we’ve been to. Yes, we love sandwiches but, more importantly and quite frankly, we’re poor. So when Kate and I were trying to figure out what our first outing together in months would be, she suggested Cheeky for their oyster po’boys. Now you may be wondering why she would suggest oyster po’boys considering the fact that she’s a vegetarian. Uh, I’ll let her explain.
Kate: Okay. So how do I explain being a vegetarian and still eating oysters? Well, This article in Slate will explain it. The day I stumbled across this article in the midst of web surfing procrastination was like Christmas! The author (who is a strict vegan besides his oyster habit), makes several valid points for eating the delicious little bi-valves. If oysters feel no pain when they are harvested (they have no central nervous system, so can be likened more to sea plants than to all other fish who do feel pain by the way– very acutely), and the harvesting doesn’t destroy other animals or ecosystems due to the fact that most are farm raised, why should I not enjoy them? There is no reason! A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, Mr. Emerson, thank you for pointing that out!
Gary: We got to Cheeky late in the afternoon with maybe 30 minutes to spare before closing. By this time in the day, we were the only customers – a good thing because it takes a while to get from ordering the sandwiches to getting the sandwiches. I’m not complaining about them doing the sandwiches from scratch and frying to order but if this were a busier time, I could see people being annoyed at the snail’s pace here. But, we were hardly in any rush so we just hung out and waited for our sandwiches to be done before we moved on to a bar so we could drink some beer with our po’boys.
Kate: The space itself is super stylish and cute. Washed in colors that feel like the sea, adorned with cool artwork and lit by lots of natural sunlight. Had they served beer, I would have happily enjoyed my sandwich on site. But it happened to be one of those days when, as Gary muttered on our way out, soda was “not gonna cut it.”
Gary: I went with the half & half which is a po’boy that is half oyster and half shrimp. The sandwich is dressed with mayo, salt, pepper, some acid (vinegar or lemon – wasn’t sure), and some ketchup, I think. Some lettuce, tomato, and the fried shrimp/oysters on bread that’s supposedly shipped in from New Orleans. I think I’d prefer if they just got their bread locally because the bread seemed really stiff, almost stale, but definitely chewier than I’d like. The bread wouldn’t be a problem for me if there were more shrimp/oysters in the sandwich. It’s a decent amount here but I think I got spoiled from seeing photos of all those authentic po’boys down in New Orleans massively stuffed with oysters.
Bitching about the bread and scarcity of fillings aside, it’s a really good sandwich. Both the oysters and shrimp are fried nicely with the breading achieving that nice, crunchy texture. The oysters are briny and it just kinda oozes out when you bit into it. The shrimp were cooked a little farther than I would prefer but still within the realm of being okay.
Kate: Sorry Gary, but I don’t agree that the bread was “stiff” at all. It wasn’t anything as special as I had hoped, especially after reading the reviews that explained that it was shipped in special from New Orleans. Actually never having actually had an oyster po’ boy, I think I just didn’t know what to expect. The simplicity of the bread (which was neither here nor there, but rather a efficient vessel to showcase the filling and fairly pleasant in and of itself) worked well for me.
And the oysters. Oh the oysters! (This was one of my first times enjoying the little sea plants since reading that miracle of an article, and my very first time having them fried). Battered in something flavorful and substantial, and dusted with cornmeal which added to their chewiness and flavor, they were yummy little balls of fried sea. Moist and flavorful, not overly greasy but definitely a treat. I enjoyed every bite. Yes, more would have been better, but I didn’t feel ripped off. This is New York. I pay $10 for a salad on a regular basis and it’s not even organic.
Kate: Out of all our sandwiches, Cheeky’s oyster po’ boy was one of my faves. I’m no oyster po’ boy expert, but I love me a good sandwich, and this one certainly qualifies. Make sure you grab a bag or two of Zappos chips on your way out. Normally I’m one to round out a meal with a salad or a vegetable, but there are none to be found at Cheeky. And after tearing off a chewy bite of that dense oyster po’ boy, popping a couple of those crunchy chips, and washing it all down with a long gulp of cold beer, I was glad.
Gary: I loved the oyster half of my sandwich and just liked the shrimp half. When I go back there, I’ll stick to all oysters in my po’boy, thank you very much. I’ll definitely be going back there if I need a sandwich fix in the Lower East Side. It’s not a cheap sandwich but it’s not exorbitantly expensive either. I’d say you get exactly what you pay for – no more, no less. Of course, you also get a pretty kick-ass sandwich out of it so that’s a win in my book.