Monday, April 13, 2009
Paseo Pork Sandwich - Seattle, WA
I’m not really a sandwich guy. Little things about them bother me, and some of my aversion probably stems from my childhood. My mother makes the world’s worst packed sandwich. I think that all that needs to be said is that while some kids had crisp BLTs in waxed paper parcels, I had un-drained tuna on slightly stale squirrelly bread, wrapped up in cereal box liner. This is not an exaggeration; in fact, it is only recently that I’ve discovered that canned tuna should be drained. This is not to say that my mum didn’t try – she just really wasn’t very good at the whole sandwich thing.
So now that I’m somewhat of an adult, I generally don’t get excited about the prospect of a sandwich. I find baguettes poke the roof of my mouth, Focaccia too squishy, and Kaiser buns a powdery mess. Toasted or cold, the effect is usually the same – a touch of indifference and mild disdain.
As I said somewhere in the above drabble, I’m not really a sandwich guy. There is however one exception: a little corrugated aluminum roofed shack in Fremont Seattle. For about nine years now, the quality of my trips to Seattle and those of my sister and husband, are entirely pendant upon a steaming, messy pile of pulled pork in a half baguette. The name of this restaurant is Paseo, and the sandwich they make is but the stuff of dreams.
The only thing on the menu I’ve ever tried and most likely ever will try is the Cuban Roast (formerly known as the Midnight Cuban – the Midnight Cuban is now something completely different, just for the sake of confusion). It is a half baguette served with a crisp leaf of romaine, jalapeños, some sort of garlic aioli, caramelized onions, and lots of pulls of pulled pork. Oh yeah, and a garlic buttered half cob of corn on the side. The combination is perfection. Somewhere between the crunch of the lettuce and the squirt of the pork and aioli juices is heaven.
The sandwich as you can see from the photo isn’t pretty. After eating the sandwich, most likely you will not be pretty. It is not unusual to find a small strand of pulled pork on an earlobe hours after leaving the restaurant. Other than being messy, it’s a bit of a hassle just getting your sandwich, you will have to line up everyday except Sunday and Monday when it is closed. The place is ridiculously tiny even though they expanded/renovated, which really consisted of adding a few more slats of tin roofing and plywood. And make no mistake, there is no ambiance. I think the tables and chairs are plastic lawn furniture, and even then, there are very few of them. But none of this really matters. You will get your sandwich and stand waiting for a seat, like vultures in the Flame trees, waiting for a chance at the kill. But when your chance does come, and you sink into the hard plastic seat and slowly take that first bite of pork awesomeness, you will forget about everything except the wasted years before Cuban Roast.