The Dish: A Good Cold Sandwich

The Location: Roy’s Place, 2 E. Diamond Avenue, Gaithersburg, (301) 948-5548

The Price: $1.235 (rounded down to $1.23 on the check)

The Skinny: My server nods and smiles when I ask about ordering the seventh item on the roughly 200-item-long menu at Roy’s Place. But when another server brings it out a short time later, the “Good Cold Sandwich” comes as a surprise. Based on the menu description, “Two stale heels of bread enclosing a freshly-made ice cube,” I was expecting a something unpleasant but manageable: An ice cube fitted snugly between two small pieces of bread. What I get is a grid of about 27 ice cubes that burst out of a hero-sized loaf. What, I wonder, have I gotten myself into?

According to 85-year-old Roy’s Place founder Roy Passin the unique sandwich is at least 30 years old. It came about simply because he “had two pieces of bread and some ice cubes,” he says, though when reminded twice he gives credence to a story reported elsewhere that says the “Good Cold Sandwich” began as a response to a drunken patron who requested, well, “a good cold sandwich.” Whatever the dish’s beginnings, I’m at a loss for how to finish it. I pick at the bread. Definitely not fresh, but not quite what I would call stale. With a knife and fork, I take a futile stab at the ice-cube grid. I pick up the whole thing up and bite off a part of the front, right-hand cube. I work on the more straitlaced dish I’ve ordered—-The Eddy Burger (#149), a conventional burger with swiss cheese and the restaurant’s golden sauce. Thinking on the cold sandwich, I contemplate using the classic D.C. snow-removal strategy on it (let it melt), but the bread just gets more and more soggy. Eventually I break off another cube and pop it in my mouth. I’m overwhelmed by coldness, and for a few unpleasant moments I suck and chew it into submission. Two down, about two dozen to go. Passin calls the creation “a joke thing for customers,” though “not a red-hot seller.” No surprise: it’s difficult and, for all but the most masochistic, no fun to eat. It’s still the best ice-cube sandwich I’ve ever tried.