Today’s sandwich is the “Slow Roasted Top Round of Certified Angus Beef” from Cobblestones. It combines Pineland Farm sharp cheddar cheese, grated horseradish, mushroom aioli, romaine lettuce and sliced tomato on a potato kaiser roll.
Location: 15 Monument Square, Portland
Notes: In the space formerly occupied by the Henry VIII carvery, a new sandwich shop called “Cobblestones” (presumably referring to the cobblestone streets that run through Portland’s Old Port) has appeared, serving up classic NYC-style deli sandwiches with imaginative twists. Their corned beef sandwich, for example, adds a purple slaw and a spicy red pepper aioli. The pastrami sandwich includes caramelized onions, and is served grilled, panini-style. These slight twists and determination to put new spins on classic sandwiches attracted us immediately.
Today, I tried the “Top Round of Beef” sandwich. The bread, a potato kaiser roll, lightly toasted, was barely enough to stand up to the mountain of well-done roast beef. Usually, this puts me off on a sandwich, where I consider the bread as much a feature player as the ingredients; in this case, however, it was enough to contain the ingredients inside, and with as much else going on with this sandwich as there was, I was happy to look at the bread as more of a necessary container, than a feature unto itself. The roast beef was generously heaped on, so much that I found myself removing some and setting it aside. The vegetables were fresh, and the tomatoes were perfect representations of the season, sliced thin, and adding a refreshing juciness to the sandwich.
And it’s a good thing; for as much else was on there, I found myself wishing that my sandwich were a little less dry. The aioli, described on the menu as “Forest Mushroom,” was an amazing, creative addition to this sandwich, with little fresh bits of mushroom spread throughout. I was also impressed by the layer of fresh grated horseradish; the classic companion to roast beef was barely noticeable, not overpowering, and complimented the Angus roast beef quite nicely. My favorite element of the sandwich, though, was the rough-cut, thick shards of Pine Lands Farm local sharp cheddar cheese; it really stood out among the other flavors, and I enjoyed the balance the sharp, puckering cheese brought to the other woody flavors of the sandwich.
Overall, I was impressed by today’s sandwich, and tantalized by the other four “specialty” sandwiches available on the menu. I also tried a bowl of the homemade mushroom and dill soup, which was much, much better than any other soup I have tried nearby. Cobblestones represents a nice new addition to Monument Square: a workaday sandwich shop as designed and imagined by people who clearly think about and care a lot about sandwiches.