Battle of the Fancy Tuna Sandwiches: Untitled v. Épicerie Boulud

Rebecca Marx
Untitled's tuna salad sandwich

As the eye of the storm approaches, we naturally turn our thoughts to upscale tuna sandwiches. As is their wont these days, certain restaurateurs have taken what was once a humble staple of brown-bag lunches and Automats and submitted it to a process of historical revisionism. No less than Danny Meyer and Daniel Boulud have put their own imprint on the sandwich, at Untitled and Épicerie Boulud, respectively. And so earlier this week we took ourselves uptown to compare their respective merits.

Rebecca Marx

Our first stop was Épicerie Boulud, the chef's very casual takeout joint across from Lincoln Center. Its menu features a $9.50 pan-bagnat, which is what a tuna sandwich is called if you happen to be eating it on the French Riviera. The sandwich is a specialty of Nice and its environs, and much like the salad Niçoise, the city's other great contribution to lunch, it features tuna, chopped hard-boiled egg, and plenty of olive oil.

At Épicerie Boulud, the fish has been poached in olive oil, which gives it a silky, pleasantly unctuous texture. It's crowded between two halves of a focaccia bun with thick, ripe slices of avocado, bits of egg, chopped black olives, juicy tomato slices, and a few leaves of spinach.

All of the ingredients are very fresh and well-seasoned, and balanced in ideal proportion to one another. Every bite threatens to force them out of the focaccia, which is sprinkled with fleur de sel and a wee bit tough around the edges, but generally pretty delightful. The latter could be said of the entire sandwich, which convinced us that there really are tuna sandwiches that merit a $9.50 price tag.

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