A streak of customers curved around the perimeter of this tiny sandwich spot on Wilson Boulevard during the lunch hour one Thursday a few weeks ago. The last in line butted up against the door. A good sign.
Sure enough, the Mona Lisa vegetarian sandwich at Earl’s Sandwiches would live up to the level of anticipation embodied in that considerable queue.
The ciabatta takes on a hoagie-like quality, but remains lovely in its cushy tenderness. The sandwich layers a grilled-to-silky soft eggplant, with just enough mushrooms (but not too many) and thick strips of roasted red pepper. In a bold mood, Earl’s piled lettuce in the sandwich. Not greens that naturally wilt into something appetizing, such as spinach or kale, but ordinary mesclun. Somehow, the purplish greens stood up to the heat, only slightly wilting but not turning soggy.
In a most heretical statement, I find that this sandwich didn’t even need the melted layer of provolone. The soft eggplant lent enough creaminess to be left alone on that front. Earl’s offers a choice of balsamic vinegar and olive oil or pesto mayonnaise. Go with the pesto for an added snare of garlic.
One last tip: pickles come for free, when you ask for them. My advice: Ask.
In order of appearance in the comments:
- Cork Market
- Cowgirl Creamery
- Busboys and Poets (sandwich 1) (sandwich 2)
- Taylor Gourmet (sandwich 1) (sandwich 2)
- Pret a Manger
- California Tortilla
- Jaleo (sandwich 1) (sandwich 2)
- Highland Cafe
- Greek Spot
- Sticky Fingers
Yum’s Super Taco
- Luna Grill
- Five Guys
- Everlasting Life
- Au Bon Pain
- Devon & Blakely
- Corner Bakery
- Black Squirrel
Photo by Stefanie Gans