Updated: Vegetarian (and Vegan) Delights of NYC: Smoked Tofu Sandwich at Birdbath Bakery
Vegans and vegetarians: No longer is it necessary to resort to meat substitutes. The smoked tofu in Birdbath Bakery's smoked tofu sandwich is every bit as good as the best smoked bacon. I know, because I also eat bacon.
The pressed tofu is about the same thickness as thick-sliced bacon. It's an ivory white, except around the edges, which are darkened. The flavor, too, varies across the slice--intensely smoky on the periphery, less so as you move inward. The texture is pleasantly chewy.
The sandwich is on toothsome, coarse-textured whole-wheat bread, and is garnished with plenty of pickled purple onons and a green onion relish that tastes almost like a sauce gribiche. I'm pretty sure it's vegan, but I didn't ask. Really, the sandwich is in contention for "best thing eaten in December," and I've eaten three in the last couple of weeks.
Update: The sandwich is indeed vegan. I called Maury Rubin at the City Bakery (who was busy working on the new Birdbath location in Soho, in the old Vesuvio's space at 160 Prince Street), and he said the sauce is made from pureed edamame, and the smoked sandwich filling is tofu, not tempeh. It and the sauce are made from beans sustainably grown at a Vermont farm, living up to Birdbath's "green" ethic.
223 First Avenue