Last week, New York Times restaurant critic Pete Wells wrote a double review of two Mediterranean restaurants, Limani and Estiatorio Milos — bastions of excellent seafood sold at astronomical prices. Toward the end, Wells advised his readers, almost certainly dismayed by the steep prices of these Midtown eateries, to travel instead to Astoria, Queens for fine seafood sold at much easier-to-swallow prices. Turns out that this week he took his own advice, in a way, traveling to another outer borough to find a “normal sandwich.”
Wells never gives his definition of a “normal sandwich,” but assures his readers that “Normal is not what Meat Hook Sandwich does, though, so I ended up eating something that I would call the greatest cheeseburger I’ve ever tasted if not for the inconvenient fact that it wasn’t a cheeseburger.” Welcome to Brooklyn, Pete, where things are almost never the same as in Manhattan — but they usually are better.
We think that what Wells was searching for was actually the lack of something, as opposed to the presence of something else. Most likely weary of specially curated chef menus and the preciousness found on nearly every plate on New York City’s “Big Island,” Wells clearly revels in the comparative austerity and no-BS approach found at Meat Hook. As we read the review, we could almost hear him exclaim with delight that “There are no elegant tricorner panini, and nothing you can eat with one hand while holding a pinot grigio in the other. The cooks listen to their lizard brains.”
Since there are no “misses” discussed, his readers must assume that he likes everything he’s tried at Meat Hook Sandwich, though he does explicitly recommend the “Hot chicken; Italian hero; roast pork; roast beef; [and] potato salad.” The critic shows the same reverence for the butchers of Meat Hook as he does for the chefs he so clearly admires, and even goes so far to express a desire to join in on their whole-animal hacking with the final line, “If this is what butchers daydream about, I need a cleaver.” We’d prefer it if you stuck to your day job, Pete — just don’t lose your metrocard.