Saturday, August 28, 2010

Abbaye's Ancho BBQ Pork Sandwich

I don't know if you went outside yesterday, but it was absolutely beautiful in Philadelphia. The sun was out and felt just far away enough, the air was dry and cool, and the weather in the shade was just perfect. The day's eating needed to be done outside.

While there are a handful of places to eat outside in South Philly, we had exhausted most of them. I was with Sunny Ali and his girlfriend Caitt, who had to go work at Cantina later that afternoon, so that spot was out of the question. Sabrina's and Paesano's I've done and done again, so those were out. We thought it prudent to venture out of our neighborhood to Northern Liberties, a haven for outdoor seating.

I'd only come to the Abbaye previously for their killer beer selection, but this time I was just hungry. Not quite in the mood for alcohol, I was kind of bummed that a place with such a good list of craft beer had no beer of the birch or root variety, not fancy or standard. Of course, I know that I'm on my own with this. I get shit from friends and servers alike when I'm not in the mood for America's drug of choice. I just hope to one day find a spot that doesn't make me feel silly for just wanting a really good soda with my lunch.

Before looking at the menu, I wasn't expecting an adventure for the day, but I saw a sandwich that fit the bill; ancho bbq pork with chorizo corn relish. Ancho is a dried poblano pepper, which carries flavor without much bite. That being coupled with pretty mellow sounding sauce, I was expecting a mild flavored sandwich with a focus on the preparation of the pork.

The pork was visibly braised well and piled high on a bun that could hardly handle the load (this is a trend). I personally prefer as few lumps of pork in a BBQ sandwich as possible in favor of stringy strands, and to that end this sandwich abode. I don't know if that's a standard measure of quality, but I know I like it for its uniqueness to pork. Though in several of its forms the meat of my endeavor can mimic so many others, pulled pork can't be mistaken for anything else if it's done just right. The closest thing, in my experience, is brazed goat meat which is something absolutely distinct.

Flavor-wise, it could have done with a little more punch. Mild flavor is one thing, but this sandwich left me very little to focus on besides its texture and preparation. I attributed the lack of heat to the often benign poblano, but a weak savory component detracted from the idea of it being a BBQ sandwich. Even the chorizo half of the relish wasn't quite salty enough, and the corn sure as hell wouldn't pick up the slack.

All in all, a satisfying sandwich for its heft, but perhaps not a repeat adventure.

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