For the third year in a row, I’m going to attempt to eat every single item on Time Out New York’s annual 100 Best Dishes list. In no particular order, here’s my take on their Top 100. Let the gluttony continue…

The first time I visited Van Horn Sandwich Shop, I was surprised at the interior. I was running around Brooklyn and stopped in for a quick sandwich to take with me. While the menu and name may hint otherwise, this is not the place for that.

This is a sit-down restaurant with a casual atmosphere (not to mention a full bar) that just happens to specialize in Southern sandwiches. They’re not designed for take out (although it is certainly possible). I ended up sitting at the bar (with my backpack still on) and trying out their pulled pork sandwich. I thought it was good, but there were much better versions in the city.

Time Out seemed to hint that it was the Fried Chicken Sandwich I should have tried. And so in order to fully conquer their list (and to fuel us up before visiting the nearby movie theater), we stopped in to Van Horn for a leisurely midday sandwich meal.

The chicken sandwich is a whopping $12, but is comprised of a monstrous chicken breast that has been dredged in buttermilk and breading. It’s sandwiched between a sweet, airy sesame bun (from nearby Caputo’s) and topped with crisp purple cabbage. I didn’t find the sandwich itself to be terribly flavorful. I enjoyed the salty crunch from the breading and I found the chicken to be irresistibly moist, but it needed a sauce or something. Aha! What’s this orange sauce on the side? That looked like the answer!

Wowza! The sauce (which turns out to be a homemade carrot habañero sauce) was tongue-singeing. No wonder they put it on the side. The heat was overwhelming and could have been nice if it had been balanced with some sweetness (might I suggest substituting peaches for the carrots?), but as it is it made difficult to taste anything else. I imagine the side of greens (as opposed to fries or chips) must have been there for cooling things down.

It’s not a bad fried chicken sandwich – the protein itself is a wonder, but the flavors layered throughout could have been more distinct and balanced. See, these are things you don’t think about when you’re eating a sandwich on the go. Sitting down and being waited on brings out the critic in all of us.

Would Van Horn Sandwich Shop’s Fried Chicken Sandwich make my Top 100 of the Year? It could have used more flavor upfront which it earns it is 7 out of 10 but the chicken is crispy and the breading greaseless and salty.

VAN HORN SANDWICH SHOP
231 Court Street (between Warren and Baltic Street),
Cobble Hill, Brooklyn
(718) 596-9707
vanhornbrooklyn.com
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About the Author

Brian Hoffman is a classically trained actor who is now a full-time tour guide, blogger, and food obsessive. He leads food and drink tours around New York City, which not only introduce tour-goers to delicious food, but gives them a historical context. He also writes food articles for Gothamist and Midtown Lunch in addition to overseeing this blog and a few food video series, including Eat This, Locals Know, and Around the World in One City.

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