When two guys from Brooklyn asked themselves what they would do if they won the lottery, their answer catapulted them into opening a sandwich shop that has, within a year, expanded from a nook behind a Crown Heights inn, to its own neon-and-brick den on the Lower East Side. NYC, shake hands with new-kid-on-the-block Black Tree, where every single ingredient – from the cheesy, pork-filled sandwiches to the lilac, celery, & mint cocktails – is from Union Square’s Greenmarket and farms upstate.
But let’s face it: local, seasonal, farm-to-table, blah blah blah is everywhere now in New York, so what makes Black Tree worth packing? "The cost," says co-owner Sandy Hall. "We use all the same fresh ingredients as the most high-end places, but keep it affordable by having just us two work at the shop, and not making the dishes look pretty by just sticking it all on a sandwich."
However, these sandwiches are actually very, very good looking. With mushrooms the size of mini lightbulbs bursting from oozing fried eggs, and brown butter apple sauce, duck, and braised pork belly tucked into ciabatta bread from Carroll Gardens’ Caputo’s Fine Foods – it’s basically eye-candy foreplay for your churning, yearning stomach.
The only thing that isn’t pretty: the mess you make when you eat ’em. They’re sloppy, they’re sauced, the broccoli rabe and rosemary garlic slip like Slinkies onto the wooden plate. The pork belly melt off the bread like a vanilla sundae. So come here wearing a bib and get ready for the mess brigade to follow.
But is it worth it? Yes. In fact, I walked out of that woody spot with a stain on my t-shirt after downing their creamy bacon-and-bread-pudding (see below), and I’m gonna wear that shirt stain like a badge of honor. Probably wear it to their weekend brunch. Yep, that’s what I’ll do. VIVA Black Tree.