Thursday, March 29, 2012

The Sandwich Shop

(NOTE: The Sandwich Shop is now closed, but you can still get Ian's food from Iggy's Catering!)

(Second Review -- May 2012)

The Sandwich Shop is located inside a convenience store on Hawthorne Ave. NE in Salem, Oregon. Ian Johnson (of Iggy's Catering) is the man creating these amazing meals seven days a week. According to the business Facebook page, this place just opened on March 5, 2012.

Yeah, it's inside this convenience store, adjacent to a Texaco gas station!
This place is inside a convenience store, adjacent to a Texaco gas station. Yup, never in a million years would I guess this one. Big thanks to Chuck B. for telling me about this place!

The day after Chuck posted his favorable review of the pulled pork sandwich, I zoomed down there for yet another meal (yeah, I'm a glutton).

Menu board
(March 2012)

The menu, while fairly simple, left my head spinning. Where to start?! Ian, being the gracious man that he is, allowed me to sample just about everything he had ready.

First, a brat coated in his from-scratch pulled pork gravy. The bratwurst, as Chuck mentioned, is from BrucePac. This same gravy goes on his biscuits and gravy breakfast. For the gravy, Ian takes some of his pulled pork, combines it with 2% milk (among other steps), and lets the cooking magic happen. Simply put, one of the best gravies I've ever had. I'm used to traditional sausage gravy, but the pulled pork shreddings added that amazing texture contrast, detonating intense porky flavor in my mouth.

Bratwurst covered in pulled pork gravy!
Next, a sampling of smoked turkey and smoked tri-tip. FYI, Ian cooks a whole turkey, a whole ham, real beef, etc. No fake stuff. And holy crappity. A pronounced smoke ring around the ends of that meat. You can't fake that. The slice had a bit of moistness and soothing flavor.

Smoked turkey and smoked tri-tip
Vintage pink smoke ring!
Ian's cole slaw is a secret family recipe passed down from his grandfather. He uses Best Foods mayo in there. Chilled, crunchy, colorful slaw. Three Cs, plus marvelous flavor! That'd be a quadruple win, I suppose!

Cole slaw, a secret family recipe!
As my friends know, I'm a breakfast person. Breakfast sandwiches, French toast (with ham), and biscuits & gravy are the main options.

I got a ham, egg, and cheese breakfast sandwich ($3.50) with an order of B&G ($1.50 small, or $2.50 for a larger order). I received the B&G first, as Ian went to the back to finish constructing my sandwich. It's a fresh buttermilk biscuit, softened wonderfully with that incredible gravy described above. Honestly, I wasn't very hungry, but I coulda eaten a good dozen more full biscuits slathered in that gravy. Perhaps even take a dang swim in the gravy, using the biscuits as edible flotation devices. It took less than 90 seconds to take that all down. If this shortens my lifespan on planet Earth, I'll die that much happier, thanks.

Biscuits & Pulled Pork Gravy
(The Sandwich Shop)
My breakfast sandwich arrived soon thereafter. Don't even attempt to compare this to some joke of an Egg McMuffin, because this place is infinitely better. A generous stack of that sliced smoked ham made my hungry panda eyes beam. A perfectly cooked fried egg (even still runny in the center, just how I like it!) and fresh sliced cheese. The English muffin was toasted just right to hold everything in place. The ham was a perfect blend of sweet and savory bliss.

Ham, egg, and cheese breakfast sandwich on an English muffin
(The Sandwich Shop)
Huge tip: If you "like" their Facebook page, you will get $1 off your order. Huzzah!

I love this deal!
I have not had the Navy Bean and Ham soup Chuck B. spoke so highly of, nor did I try the acclaimed meatball sub. But damn, it's really all gravy at this stage of the proceedings.

Watch for constant specials on their Facebook page. For example, $1.75 pulled pork tacos $2 quarter-pound beef hot dogs, and various soups. It could even be $5 for any sandwich (and Ian means any sandwich).

Oh, did I mention that you can make your OWN creation there? Ian is open to virtually any suggestion, as long as he has the ingredients on hand. Ian mentioned a couple of people from Willamette University that have already created certain masterpieces. Add my name to that ever-growing list.

A few days after my initial visit, I came back to create my epic sandwich. But not so fast! Ian greeted me with a few more dishes! How the hell can I say no to food? (sorry, stomach)

Ian's pulled pork taco ($1.75) features his amazing smoky, juicy pulled pork, blended with green chiles. A generous portion is put on a heated corn tortilla, then topped with cilantro and chipotle tabasco. Either you love cilantro, or it tastes like soap. Maybe I swore a lot as a kid, because I love it.

Pulled Pork Taco
(The Sandwich Shop)
Sorry the picture is mega blurry
Tried to get a shot of the green chiles
Anyway, a delicious taco. Probably coulda ate another dozen if I had an empty stomach. The pulled pork, by itself, reminds me a lot of great kalua pig back in Hawaii. Comfort food, people.

Ian's potato salad is quite unique in color and preparation, but killer good. It's an eggless potato salad, using Best Foods mayo, sundried tomatoes, and parsley, among other fine components. A lovely lunch side dish with a sandwich or any of Ian's specials.

Potato salad
I feasted on some more tri-tip fresh from the Traeger, but it was time to construct my epic sandwich.

Ian gave me one of the end pieces!
Ian mentioned he loved putting ham and egg between two pieces of French toast, one half with peanut butter and the other with marionberry jam. I loved it, but I wanted to go bigger. Meatier. Food coma-inducing.

Enter...the Terminator.

My own creation..."The Terminator"
(The Sandwich Shop)

Three slices of ham, three slices of tri-tip, mound of that epic pulled pork, one fried egg, peanut butter, and marionberry jam all between two pieces of homemade hazelnut toffee French toast. Each half then gets half a bratwurst on top, skewered with a mini plastic sword. Incredible mix of savory and sweet. I practically told Ian to name his price because I was eating it (and enjoying it) no matter what. $10 was very fair, given all those ingredients.

And you know what? I'd even go further on this. Try adding the pulled pork gravy over the top. But Ian, if you read this, three words: Torani's Bacon Syrup. I know you can find it at World Market in Keizer.

As a special treat for my blog readers, here's more foodie pictures during the sandwich's construction:

Probably one of my favorite shots for the peanut butter and jelly action
Not sure if this was intentional, but having sweeter components (sweet smoked ham and the marionberry jam) and the savory ones (peanut butter with tri-tip) right next to each other was awesome.

We joked that this was one heck of a gastropub. Gasoline outside, beer in the convenience store!

I'm thankful that it was sunny outside when I went to feast on this appripriately named meal. It terminated my appetite the rest of the day. Of course, it had help from the aforementioned pulled pork taco and sides (plus a meal I previously enjoyed at another place an hour prior).

Terminator is terminated in mere minutes

I walked eight miles that day, and I easily had the energy to finish a half-marathon -- and then some.

Sundays will feature all-you-can-eat spaghetti and garlic bread. Put the spaghetti and meat sauce between two pieces of garlic bread for an "Italian Taco." Keep looking for pulled pork tacos because those are amazing. Ian will have other awesome specials each day, so keep checking back!

The Sandwich Shop is open seven days a week, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. With extremely affordable prices and amazing quality, this place has skyrocketed to the elite list. Well-deserved.

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