Black Tree Sandwich Shop: NYC’s New Sloppy, Saucy, Farm-Fresh Joint

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.

Black Tree

Get the inside-scoop on Black Tree, & follow Bonnie on Twitter here

For 100 Percent Local Eats and Drinks, Hit Up This Week’s Festival

No matter where you go, everyone has local and seasonal food on the brain. Whether that means it’s a crappy sports bar you walk into where they claim they use these ingredients (but really they are trying to capitalize on a trend), or places that are actually committed to the cause. This week, don’t bother trying to weed out the fakers; for a truly local food experience, hit up one of the establishments featured at Edible’s Eat Drink Local festival, which runs until June 30.

Not only can diners try truly local foods, but also beer, wine, and booze, all made in or near New York state. Some restaurants, like Northern Spy Food Co., Good Restaurant, and The Green Table, have always focused on local and seasonal fare and will be dishing out goods not far from their normal menu. The real treat is to try spots that aren’t known for concentrating on local goods and seeing what they are doing. For example, The Bowery Diner has a special dish each night, like tonight’s clams with spinach, Chinese sausage, and corn. You can get Swiss food made with local ingredients at Trestle on Tenth, locally sourced Peking duck at Bobo, and feel-good pizza from Nick and Toni’s Café on the Upper West Side. 

Naturally, Brooklyn is in on the game, too, with restaurants like the Saul Bolton’s popular eatery Saul, fresh Italian food from Osteria il Paiolo in Williamsburg, and both of George Weld’s joints,Egg and Parish Hall.  But wait, what about the drinks I mentioned before? Stop by Jimmy’s No. 43 for regional brews paired local meats and cheese, Almond for a glorious selection of New York craft beers, and for you wine lovers, on Thursday City Grit hosts a dinner that features rose from New York wineries. If that’s not enough, on Wednesday the Fifth Annual Taste of Greenmarket commences in the event space at 82 Mercer and includes chefs and bartenders from all over the city (Dan Barber, Julie Reiner, Michael Anthony, and more!) cooking up bites and making cocktails with food from, obviously, the Greenmarket. Also, as if eating locally didn’t make you feel good enough about yourself, all the proceeds from this tasting event go to support the Greenmarket Youth Education Project.