Williamsburg, Brooklyn, is quite similar in many ways to London’s Hackney where the hipsters hang out. It’s urban, scruffy and full of media types working on ad campaigns and edgy photo shoots. Whereas in Hackney, lots of young women dress as ‘land girls’ (all smocks and 1940s makeup, or their grandmothers’ clothes) and the men dress like Victorian urchins or impecunious chimney sweeps with comedy glasses, it’s a little bit the same thing here – plenty of handlebar moustaches and beards on the blokes, wide framed NHS-style glasses and ramshackle fashions for the ladies. It can be hard work watching and laughing at the hipsters, so when your stomach starts to growl, and you want something that isn’t a bagel or a burger, Saltie is a snack-stop that offers the hungry diner a different sort of sandwich.
This tiny little shop is nothing more than a counter with a small prep area behind it. The menu is short and to the point, with nautical names for the sandwiches such as ‘The Captain’s Daughter’ and ‘Scuttlebutt’. There is nothing much else to buy apart from sandwiches, except for a few cakes, coffee and sometimes ice cream. It’s not a comfortable place – the point is that you get your sandwich and then you go somewhere else to eat it. And don’t ask for your sandwich to be divided in two for sharing – one of the stern counter ladies looked right at me with her laserbeam eyes and said ‘We don’t cut our sandwiches here – they are designed to be eaten as once piece.’ That showed me…
The counter area – beware, stern ladies dwell behind here:
Ahoy - the menu:
Don’t get me wrong when I say that, at first glance, the sandwich fillings sound a tad offputting. I mean, who would be drawn straight away to fillings such as pickled egg, sardine and beetroot? Urgh! My friend S actually went pale when he read the list of ingredients and said ‘I don’t think I can eat here, I don’t think I can do this’. But the clever thing here is that all the fillings are very well judged in terms of ingredient combinations and really work well together. Just like the name ‘Saltie’ suggests, the sandwich fillings are full of ‘umami’ combinations: fish, eggs and capers adorned with punchy garlicky aioli, or pickles and ham, or Spanish omelette and garlic mayo. Super yum. The bread is a lovely chewy, crusty foccaccia which tastes homemade, and all the ingredients squidge nicely into the bread to create a very satisfying mouthful. These are messy sandwiches – the aioli will run down your chin and you might want to eat it on your own in the privacy of your home. But my God, these are good – and pretty much worth the $10 price tag.
S gets counselling from C in order to get to grips with the menu:
The Captain’s Daughter: sardines, pickled egg, salsa verde, leaves:
Scuttlebutt: egg, cauliflower, pickles, beets, pickles, feta, black olives, capers, aioli: so good that my friend D bought two, so that he had one to scoff in private when he got home.
Other sandwich fillings include ‘Ship’s Biscuit’ – soft scrambled egg and ricotta – and ‘Little Chef’: mortadella, pecorino, green olives and parsley. Certainly not your usual run-of-the-mill tuna mayo or cheese and pickle.
We finished off with some Grown Up Chocolate Chip Cookies that were buttery and delicious, with chunks of bitter chocolate. We ate them too fast for me to take a photograph of them.
Williamsburg, Brooklyn NYC