Boston is a a city that lives in its past and gives directions with landmarks that used to be. So with as little irony as possible, I ventured out for lunch with gourmand B to a shop trading on the name of an 18th Century English noble, newly installed in a former public restroom on the Boston Common. What would Paul Revere think?
Yes, it’s called Earl of Sandwich. In fact, it’s a chain with presence in seven US states plus UK and France (at Paris Disneyland, a place some have compared to a public restroom) and a couple of airports to boot. The organization’s management includes the actual current Earl of Sandwich, #11 if you’re counting. It was #4 who is credited with putting meat betwixt bread for the first time, creating what I’m sure he thought was the greatest thing since sliced bread.
And what of this most recent take on the family meal? B had the “Original 1762” (roast beef, cheddar and horseradish sauce) and I had something with chicken, avocado, cheddar and bacon. For some reason there was no BLT on the menu, and I didn’t think it was a good idea to order off the menu at a newly-opened chain eatery.
Service was super friendly but the sandwiches were merely adequate. The bread, baked on site, was soft and not too flavorful, but at least it was hot and slightly toasted. I would have gone in for more toasting. The innards were inoffensive, not overstuffed and not stingy, but also not very distinctive in any particular way. It was reminiscent of a slightly upscaled Subway or a downmarket Au Bon Pain or Panera. A shop professing to be English with a branch in New England should really look into sourcing some cheddar cheese that’s not orange and tastes like cheddar cheese.
After a $6.50 sandwich each, we were still hungry, so we split a tuna melt. It was slightly better than either of the first course sandwiches, with hot and salty being the primary notes of interest. Then B helped an Estonian woman take her first photo with her new iPhone and we headed back to the office pausing to giggle at the “General Hooker Entrance” of the state house.
I’ll give the Earl this, it’s the best sandwich shop that used to be a bathroom that I’ve ever visited. It’s also got location going for it, I can see them cleaning up in more temperate seasons with all the outdoor seating (but none indoors where people used to sit quite a lot…) Which leads me to wonder, does the sandwich shop have a public restroom?