Mean Sandwich

Mean Sandwich draws a great cross-section of people throughout the day. The generously-sized sandwiches are all served on Macrina’s Seeded Buns, and everything else is made in-house. The bun absorbs the juiciness of the fillings and keeps the generous pile of inners together. Kevin and Alex are usually there, and you’ll occasionally find their adorable three-year-old daughter holding court with the customers. If you love a delicious sandwich get on over there!

Leslie

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Mean Sandwich

John Montagu, the Fourth Earl of Sandwich, is said to have invented the sandwich so he didn’t have to leave the gambling table to eat. Three hundred years after his birth, the now ubiquitous finger food ranges from humble to haute. At Mean Sandwich, located in Ballard, everyday street food and elevated cuisine find a happy meeting place. You can grab something to nosh on when you’re in a hurry, or treat your snobbiest foodie friend to lunch. They won’t be disappointed.

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Mean Sandwich is the brainchild of Kevin and Alex Pemoulie, formerly chef/owners of Thirty Acres, a critically-acclaimed restaurant that landed on Bon Appétit’s 2012 list of 50 best new restaurants in the country. Before that, they both worked at David Chang’s legendary New York restaurant Momofuku. After the birth of their daughter, they wanted to refocus. They shuttered their ode to fine dining and moved to Seattle, Alex’s hometown, to focus on casual, accessible food.

“We’re challenging ourselves in a different way entirely,” Kevin says. “Before we opened, I worked for a long time on the menu for Mean Sandwich. Obviously, everything here is going between two pieces of bread, but we make everything in-house, from the corned beef of our namesake sandwich to our sausage.”

Already high expectations for Mean Sandwich were elevated last fall when Eater put it on their list of 23 most anticipated openings around the country. Now, open nearly a year, the Pemoulie’s have backed up the hype, so much so that they made Bon Appetit’s 2017 list of 50 best new restaurants in the country.

The menu is simple: six signature sandwiches, a side salad, and Skins and Ins, an awesome combination of fried potato chunks and their skins. All sandwiches are griddled and served hot on a Macrina Seeded Bun.

The eponymous sandwich features tender thick-cut corned beef, pickled red cabbage, yellow mustard, mint, and a subtle dash of maple syrup. It’s based on a Thirty Acres dish and it’s worth a driving across town for—even at rush hour. None of the sandwiches feel too precious, but each has a special twist, that something you couldn’t do at home. You get the sense that the same care and effort they once put into each creative small plate at Thirty Acres goes into each sandwich. In addition to the standing menu, a special sandwich is offered every day, such as the Glazed Pork Belly with pine nuts, radicchio, and roasted tomato mayo. With the onset of the cooler weather, a fresh daily soup is also available.

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Behind the small storefront, the interior space is simple with a couple of booths and seating lining the windows, 18 seats in total. In warmer weather, the large backyard is an oasis of fun. Diners pack the eight picnic tables and many wait for a turn at the ping-pong table. Patrons of Peddler Brewing can order sandwiches through a pickup window located in the brewery’s beer garden.

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With a successful first year nearly behind them, Kevin and Alex are interested in opening a second location. “If the right opportunity came along we’d definitely entertain the idea,” Kevin says. “It seems that if you divide the city by a harsh north-south line, a lot of people wind up sticking to their neighborhoods during the weekdays, especially during the cold months. It’d be helpful to be in another part of the city.”

Meanwhile, to expand their reach, Mean Sandwich plans to make their sandwiches available through every delivery service in Seattle. “We just want to serve people great sandwiches,” Kevin says.“Right now we’re operating exclusively with Caviar, but we’re looking to use UberEats, Postmates, Doordash, Amazon Restaurants. We literally just want to use every single one.”

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Kevin and Alex have embraced Seattle and its food scene. They frequently take their daughter along as they try new restaurants or return to favorites. “The city is great,” Kevin says. “We live half a mile from Mean Sandwich, see Alex’s parents a great deal, and love our walkable neighborhood.”

Their gamble to leave fine-dining behind and take their talents West has given Seattle a chef-driven take on the old standby. They’ve kept the everyday convenience of the Earl of Sandwich’s pedestrian invention and made it tasty enough for the most discerning diner.

Mean Sandwich opens at 11 a.m. seven days a week. Check their website (meansandwich.com) for evening closing hours and much more. 

Stecca

stecca

I love the breads made by Jim Lahey at Sullivan Street Breads in New York City. He’s one of America’s great artisan bakers. He bakes most of his crusty European-style breads until they’re quite dark. They come out of the oven burnished, with an amazing crackle when you bite into them. But he also makes a few loaves with thin, light brown crusts. My partner, Matt Galvin, sampled an airy bread of his on a trip to New York – not quite baguette, not quite breadstick and not quite focaccia.  Matt suggested something like this would make a nice addition to our line of breads. I set out to create something similar but uniquely Macrina.

Stecca, a soft “sweet” (meaning not sour) baguette, is made with our yeast-risen ciabatta dough. The loaves are baked closely together, “kissing” we call it, which results in soft sides. This makes it an ideal bread for sandwiches of all kinds. It has a light, golden crust and a well-aerated irregular crumb structure. Stecca is now available in all of our cafes.

Beginning in 2016, we will begin offering a Green-Olive Stecca exclusively in our cafes. Studded with green olives, brushed with extra-virgin olive oil, and garnished with fresh herbs this bread is hard to resist.

Pan de Muerto

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In Mexico, Pan de Muerto, or bread of the dead, is a flavorful sweet bread traditionally baked during the weeks leading up to the Dia de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, which is celebrated on November 1st and 2nd. All month leading up to the official celebration people enjoy this bread. On Dia de los Muertos, the bread is taken to the gravesite, often along with the favorite food of the deceased, and eaten there. Food is very important to the celebration, for it is thought the dead are driven back to the living by the scent of their favorite foods.

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Our Pan de Muerto is made in honor of this wonderful tradition. A soft round of sweet, yeast-risen bread with a crunchy cinnamon sugar glaze, ours is studded with fresh orange zest and spiced with orange flower water, cinnamon, cardamon, and cloves. We lay two crossed links of dough over the top to symbolize crossbones. They represent those no longer among the living. This bread, sliced and toasted for breakfast or dipped in Mexican hot chocolate as an afternoon snack is a decadent treat.

Pan de Muerto is in our cafes up through the Day of the Dead. You can also find it at Metropolitan Markets and Town and Country Markets.

Leslie

 

Colomba Pasquale: A Springtime Tradition

Colomba Pasquale for EasterSo many wonderful things mark the arrival of spring: sun-drenched days, flowers in bloom, fresh produce in the market, and our favorite, Colomba Pasquale. This bread has been an Easter menu highlight for years, ushering in a new season and adorning tabletops alongside tulip-filled vases.

You’d be hard-pressed to find a bakery in Italy not spilling over with freshly baked loaves of Colomba Pasquale this time of year. Hailing from the Lombardy province in Italy, “Colomba Pasquale” translates to “Easter dove.” Similar to Panettone at Christmastime, this bread is widely known in Italy as a favorite for Easter celebrations. While it’s less common in the states, our customers look forward to it each year.

Studded with candied orange peel, topped with a baked glaze of sliced almonds, and dusted with powdered sugar, our Colomba Pasquale is just as delicious fresh as it is toasted. Slices can be drizzled with honey and served with fresh fruit for a pre-Easter Egg Hunt brunch, but its also perfect with afternoon tea. Whether you’re looking for a hostess gift or just want to add some extra sweetness to these spring mornings, Colomba Pasquale is a natural.

Be sure to pre-order a loaf or two for Easter morning. Colomba Pasquale will be available in our cafés through April 12.

Pizza Bianca: A New Lunch Favorite

Pizza Bianca

Adorned with dimples, flakes of sea salt and just a hint of fresh rosemary, Pizza Bianca is the latest addition to our Lunch Menu. With its chewy exterior and bubbles throughout the crumb, it’s perfect for soaking up sandwich spreads. Inspired by co-owner Matt Galvin’s favorite lunch when he lived in Italy, this bread is a new house favorite at Macrina.

“Our Pizza Bianca is closer to a thin, airy focaccia,” says Leslie Mackie. “It is a very simple but habit-forming obsession. It is so versatile as it is so good used as a sandwich bread – grilled or not – or eaten plain, dunking it in a favorite hummus or Tuscan Bean Spread.”

Pizza Bianca and Schiacciata are very similar and some may refer to each as the same. Our Schiaccatta was made with a larger amount of olive oil and flavored with freshly chopped herbs, giving it an almost flaky texture. Leslie was looking for something lighter for our sandwiches and played around with a Pizza Bianca recipe until it was just right.

Now you can enjoy this bread as part of our lunch sandwich rotation. This week we’re layering it with roasted artichoke hearts, zucchini, Mama Lil’s peppers, provolone, organic field greens and Tuscan White Bean Spread for our Verdure Sandwich.

Open House Event: See How Our Bread is Made

Interested in expanding your baking knowledge while sampling some of Seattle’s finest baked goods? We are opening our kitchen doors to the public this Saturday! Join us on June 29, from 2 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. at our SODO location for the Bread Bakers Guild of America (BBGA) Third Annual Open House.

“[We’re] inviting our customers to taste fresh, artisan breads, tour our labor-intensive baking facilities, and ask professionals those questions to help solve baking challenges at home,” says Macrina Founder and BBGA Board Member Leslie Mackie.

More than 50 bakeries across the United States and Canada are participating in this event, which was created by the BBGA as a way for communities to connect with their local bakeries. For us, the open house is also an accessible avenue for our community to experience the art and passion we put behind our products.

Comprised of industry professionals, educators, students, and home bakers from around the world, the BBGA formed in 1993 to shape the skills and knowledge of the baking community through education.

For more information, visit the BBGA website or call 206-623-0919.

Consider the Bun

Wheat Cider Buns are the natural choice.

Wheat Cider Buns are the natural choice.

As the weather turns warm this time of year, we can’t help but notice another change in the air. Once laced with the spicy scent of stoked fireplaces, our neighborhood now harbors the aroma of backyard barbecues. Maybe more so than other regions of the country, Seattleites embrace summer like a best friend they haven’t seen in ages.

Grocery lists are readied and shopping baskets fill with the goods of summer. But, there’s one thing that’s often overlooked or purchased haphazardly: the burger bun. Consider the bun with its hollows and crust to hug its contents, be it a grilled portobello or juicy hamburger, a slippery tomato slice or crisp onion ring. Any old brand just won’t suffice.

Packed with hearty ingredients that you can pronounce, like whole-wheat flour and cracked wheat berries, our Wheat Cider Bun is a virtuous compliment to organic vegetables, grass-fed beef, or Dungeness crab salad.

This is the time for outdoor living. Are you ready?