Old School Sandwich Shop


Photo courtesy of Elliot Munson.

Elliot Munson, Arts & Culture Editor

This previously ran in our December 2022 print issue.

There are two schools of thought in the culinary world. At least, two worth mentioning. 

One states that the food is all that matters. The restaurant, the atmosphere, and the presentation are all irrelevant – the only way to judge food is on taste and texture. 

The other school of thought is much more open-minded, but often can go beyond the scope of just food. It takes everything into consideration –- not just how the food looks on a plate, but the architecture of the restaurant, the wait staff, and the view out the window. 

The “Mother Clucker” delivers in both worlds. In terms of pure food, it deserves a  chef’s kiss. And not a fake one either–, blown by a starving student after housing a bag of funions in 0 seconds, but a real, hard-earned, genuine moment of appreciation. The chicken breast itself is an 8/10. It’s not so large as to it overwhelms the rest of the sandwich, as is all-too-common. The fry coating provides flavor and noticeable crunch without breaking your teeth or taking over the flavor, and instead of. Rather than only getting grease, oil, or salt, a melody of spices sings for the craggley crust. The imperfections in the shape ensure a unique bite each time, instead of a monotonous trip through a slab of meat.

The candied bacon might be the sandwich’s greatest statement about the world at large. Too often, bacon is often the selling point –- bacon-wrapped scallops, bacon on a stick, novelty gag gifts of bacon -chapstick or bacon lollipops. America loves bacon, for a good reason. 

But the “Mother Clucker” is smarter than that. It doesn’t let the bacon boss it around. It keeps a tight rein, harnessing the savory, salty pork flavor along with the sweetness that comes from the candyingcandyization, and uses it to enhance the other flavors rather than letting it strike out on its own.

Homer himself could be blessed by all nine of the muses and still yet not be able to compose an ode great enough to describe the pepper jack cheese sitting below the chicken on the bottom bun. The texture complexity it adds is spectacular. It foils the crunch of the chicken, pickles and lettuce, while still providing a toothiness that the bun just doesn’t possess. The spice creeps around your mouth, adding a slight tingle which is ever so important darting in to tickle your tastebuds just when you need it, then darting back to avoid overstimulating your tongue. The addition of tingle is critical to any food, especially  in something fried like this., and the pepper jack brings that in the perfect amount.

Lettuce is lettuce. It’s necessary to have on a chicken sandwich, bringing freshness and crunch to something that can sometimes lack those two traits, but on the “Mother Clucker,” the lettuce is relegated to the supporting role. That’s not to say it’s not important to the sandwich composition, but it’s nothing special.

The pickles, in stark contrast to the lettuce, are special. Normally, like the lettuce, it’s something quickly thrown on to add an ingredient besides that isn’t meat or oil, to add a splash of plant life to the dish. On the “Mother Clucker,” this couldn’t be further from the truth. They provide crunch, as well as any pickle you could find in the finest restaurants in the world, and the acidity (the most underrated factor in any dish!) balances out the otherwise overwhelming savoriness, lightning the whole sandwich and keeping everything in proportion.

Oh, and the special sauce. Where to begin? It’s some sort of mayonnaise, and it’s hard to go wrong with lipids. It’s true, the sauce is delicious from start to finish. It carries layers of flavor in its smooth, mysterious essence, a true powerhouse of savory taste. But it’s the sandwich’s crutch. It absolutely needs to be there, compounding the other flavors and softening the texture, but it’s there in force. Too much force. It’s undeniably delicious, but it takes over the perfectly balanced sandwich. Not to any extreme –- it’s still a delicious creation –- but if only 80% as much was smeared on the bun, the world would be a better place.

And the bun, the bun, the bun. And the bun is a great bun. It has a strong texture yet gives way to your teeth, it standings up to the weight and sauces of the sandwich, yet still is tender and soft in your mouth. Everyone knows a good bun, and this is one.