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THIS LITTLE PIGGY HAD ROAST BEEF

11/02/2010

149 First Avenue
New York, NY 10003
(212) 253-1500


There can hardly be a restaurant in, forget New York City, ANY city, with a menu smaller than This Little Piggy Had Roast Beef's. There are four (4) sandwiches. That's it. I tried three of them.



This Little Piggy also couldn't be smaller without being a food truck. There's about two yards of counter space for everyone to lean on should they choose to eat in rather than take out. I've found myself leaning on that windowsill many a time this past week.



The first up was This Little Piggy's answer to the Philly cheese-steak.

Here's the thing about a Philly cheese-steak, something many people don't know. It was created by design to give heart attacks to the people that eat it. The best cheese steak sandwiches don't use real meat, they use that Steak-ums frozen-meat-puree junk which I'm virtually certain is 92% fat. Then, in that fat, they fry onions and peppers until every vitamin and nutrient has been cooked straight out of them. Finally, these fillings get tossed into a roll and topped with a thick helping of Cheese-Whiz, a product that is, miraculously, even less like actual cheese than a Kraft Single. Naturally, it tastes amazing. How could it not? (please no comments or emails about where I could go to get the best "real" cheese steak sandwich. I could really care less.)

And that's why I think that This Little Piggy's version, the This Way Sandwich ($5.50), falls flat. It uses Angus beef and au jus and I didn't feel that the dichotomy of high quality meat with Cheese Whiz and a cheapo roll worked. Sure, it was messy, got all over my face and needed most of a paper towel to clean up. But where was the grease? This type of sandwich needs, nay, cries out for grease. The au jus/whiz combo tasted funny and frankly, the beef was a tad dry. Fat = flavor. So when the fat gets lost in the creation of a quasi-healthy alternative, what gets left behind is a somewhat boring sandwich with fake cheese on top of it.

Maybe I'd have better luck with the That Way Sandwich ($5.50). This sandwich is again Angus roast beef, but with mozzarella, and gravy. It wasn't bad, and it was certainly better than the This Way was, but it lacked a little something. It just didn't hold my interest. Alongside the sandwich I ordered the Hand Cut Fries ($4). These french fries are the largest, thickest fries you'll ever find. They basically quartered a potato, skin on. Very good; hugely filling. One serving demands being shared.

Finally, I tried This Little Piggy's Something Else Sandwich ($12.50). It is, to boil it down, everything I just ate, all at one time. Roast beef, au jus, cheese whiz, mozzarella, gravy AND the fries all on a hero roll. The Something Else embodies the concept of "if a little is good, and some more is better, then a lot must be great!" Yes, this was the best of the bunch. Yes, it shaved off four months of my life. Yes, it took two sittings to eat (seriously, I had the other half of it for dinner twenty minutes ago). No, I can't honestly say I'd ever get it again.



The biggest problem with This Little Piggy is that it felt wholly uninspired. Like they got some good ideas from someone and tried to copy them with no real personality. Like when the Chinese copy a Western car and pass it off as their own. Anyway, clearly the people around the East Village like the place more than I did, given the numbers of people coming and going, and that's fine. But personally, I walked away, more than once, feeling... absolutely nothing (except a very full belly).


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