The Hippo


May 28, 2020








The Alice and Annie. Emelia Attridge photo.

The Alice and Annie
Eagle Square Deli, 5 Eagle Square, Concord
Assignment: The deli-style sandwich. This sandwich should be reminiscent of visiting a classic delicatessen. You may use any meat, cheese, spread, vegetables, topping, etc. you’d like. “Out-there” ingredients, like a fried egg, chutney or flavored mayonnaise, are encouraged as long as it pairs with the sandwich. 

Recipe: Chicken sandwich made with a Southwestern rub, pan-seared and cooked in the oven, topped with a dollop of avocado sour cream, prepared with cayenne and chili pepper. Assembled with green lettuce, onions and a thick slice of tomato on a bulkie roll also spread with the house-made avocado sour cream.


The Alice & Annie
Eagle Square Deli, 5 Eagle Square, Concord


 The sandwich is growing up. The days of lunch meat between two slices of Wonder Bread are long gone. Restaurants and delis continue to add creative, indulgent sandwiches to their menus. Take the panini, for example; it was considered a specialty a decade ago, but now it’s a menu staple.

“What used to be cool is becoming the norm. So it’s time for everyone else to step up their game,” The Bridge Café chef George Bezanson said. 
But what takes a sandwich from mediocre to gourmet? To get a taste of the process behind building a mouth-watering sandwich, the Hippo challenged four local delis and cafes to come up with an original, never-been-on-the-menu-before creation. We assigned a specific type of sandwich with a few preparation guidelines to each one, but beyond that we encouraged chefs to be creative. It wasn’t a contest, so no judging and no winners — just a fun way to find out how the pros put together menu-worthy sandwiches. Bonus: All four eateries will be running their creations as specials, so look for them at lunchtime.
The Alice and Annie (pronounced like jewelry brand Alex and Ani) has more of a Southwestern vibe than most delicatessen sandwiches.
Eagle Square Deli chefs chose to make a healthier chicken sandwich packed with flavor for their sandwich challenge. The Alice and Annie is assembled on a bulkie roll with green leaf lettuce, a thick tomato slice and rings of purple onions. But the key to the sandwich is the spiced chicken breast and house-made avocado spread (that “out-there” ingredient).
“This is the first [Southwestern-inspired] thing that we’ve come up with,” owner Peter Silvestro said. “It’s something that’s a little bit healthier.”
The chicken breast is first seasoned with a Southwestern chili dry rub, then pan-seared and cooked in the oven. That might be enough flavor on its own, but the chefs wanted to incorporate a sauce in the sandwich. A house-made avocado sour cream was created by combining fresh avocado, cayenne, chili pepper and sour cream in a food processor. It’s spread on the bulkie roll with a dollop on top of the chicken before the rest of the sandwich is assembled.
“We were originally going to put avocados in, but … thought of doing it in a sauce,” chef Michael Morgera said. 
The cayenne and chili add a little bit of heat, which is then cooled by the sour cream.
“I think it brings diversity in more of a healthy alternative,” Silvestro said. 
Other carnivorous sandwiches on the menu include the Capitol Cheese Steak (made with chunks of sirloin with American cheese, onions and peppers), the Cavernous Club (toasted and stacked up to three layers with turkey, ham, roast beef and tuna, bacon, lettuce, tomato and mayonnaise) and the Thanksgiving Feast, a turkey sandwich with homemade stuffing and cranberry sauce.
The most popular sandwiches are the Chicken and Cheddar and the Classic Reuben (served on pumpernickel, grilled lean corned beef with sauerkraut, Swiss cheese and Russian dressing).
For non-meat eaters, there’s a vegetarian wrap with hummus, meatless quiches and salads and homemade soups. 
Customers can choose from a selection of fresh baked breads, like white, honey-wheat, oatmeal, rye, pumpernickel, sub rolls, bulkie rolls or wraps.
For Silvestro, a gourmet sandwich means quality ingredients just as much as the quantity of ingredients. That same morning, large meatballs of ground beef were rolled out by hand for the lunch meatball sub special. Unlike at chain sandwich shops, Silvestro said, nothing is pre-packaged, frozen or pre-measured. Everything’s made for the customer.
“This is a fresh chicken breast. Nothing here is frozen,” Silvestro said. “We also use green leaf lettuce only on our sandwiches — I feel like we’re giving away secrets. We don’t use iceberg lettuce — there’s a huge difference in the taste.”
“[At chain sandwich shops], it’s all shredded lettuce which is puffed up on a puffed up roll ... when you look inside and measure what you got, you don’t get a lot,” he said. “Their chicken breast that you would get at one of those chains is frozen in Detroit, shipped in cryovac and the color of the chicken is actually almost white when you see it.”
Located in Eagle Square, the lunchtime eatery is steps from the Statehouse in Concord, but since there isn’t a parking lot, Silvestro said there are many regulars who walk in from downtown.
“We have to have a better product here. We don’t have a parking lot and we give people really good value for their money. We know pretty much everybody’s name that walks through that door. … It’s like a Cheers kind of place,” Silvestro said.
“We do have a few characters. Richie, he’s our resident comedian, sits at that table  — he’s Normie from the original Cheers,” he said. “Jim, he’s our ‘attorney and counsel,’ he counsels us on different ideas. And it’s his daughter the sandwich is named after.”
The Alice and Annie is named for two of Eagle Square Deli’s regulars’ daughters, he said.
“It’s not the Peter sandwich,” Silvestro said. “That’s what we do.”
What makes a gourmet sandwich?
Peter Silvestro, owner of Eagle Square Deli, Concord: The ingredients, for one. We sell all top-quality meats, extra thick bacon, lean thick bacon. The contents I think that we give versus one of these sandwich chains is a huge difference in terms of quantity of meats, quality of meats and quality of all the extras. 
As seen in the March 20, 2014 issue of the Hippo.

®2020 Hippo Press. site by wedu