I really need to get to bed earlier. I either end up reading other food blogs, looking into my next burger adventure, or watching food shows. No matter what I choose to do, it almost always leaves me feeling STARVED! A while back, I was hooked on Adam Richman’s Man v. Food. I’m not sure what it was, but I’d watch episode after episode…after gluttonous episode. Naturally, I took a special interest in the burger challenges. At about that same time, Adam Richman came out with a new show – Best Sandwich in America. Now being a connoisseur of meat between two slices of bread, to say I was intrigued by this show would be an understatement. I must admit I felt quite a bit of Austin pride when the show came to town and featured sandwiches from The Salt Lick and Noble Pig in the battle for sandwich supremacy of the southwest region. And the winner (and one of 10 finalists on the show)…the Seared Beef Tongue sandwich from Noble Pig.
Well, it turns out that the sandwich shop is only about 10 minutes from where I live. Now I know that I’m supposed to be doing the burger thing, but I couldn’t resist. Honestly, I would’ve expected a shop like this to be in Downtown, SoCo, SoLa or one of the other trendier parts of town where the food scene is bustling, but Noble Pig is located about 20-30 minutes from downtown Austin in the ‘burbs. It’s in a shopping strip sandwiched between (no pun intended) a Majik Mart and a cell phone store. At first glance, I wouldn’t have guessed that on the inside they’d be curing their own meat (duck pastrami, anyone?), pickling their own veggies, AND baking their own bread. And if that weren’t enough…they do all of it well.
In our usual fashion, the wife and I tried to get to the restaurant a little early to avoid the masses. But despite our efforts, there was only one open table inside the shop when we got there. Although the wife needed a minute to scour the menu, I knew exactly why I was there – to tackle the tongue.
As we waited for our food, I couldn’t help but
eavesdrop overhear a number of the customers raving about the sandwiches, soups…basically everything! The shop was far from fancy and had a comfortable neighborhood deli feel to it (not that I grew up in a neighborhood with a local deli, but if I had, this is how I would’ve pictured it). Thankfully, it didn’t take long for the food to come out on its humble, cafeteria-style plastic tray. Accompanying the sandwiches were a small mound of pickled vegetables and a handful of ridged potato chips. My wife’s Thai Chicken sandwich (with jalapeno-cabbage slaw and cilantro) was a real treat. The chicken was moist and juicy, and the Thai flavors were unmistakable. As for the Seared Beef Tongue…
It was unlike any other sandwich I’ve had in my entire life! Sweet, sour, salty…you name it, this sandwich had it. I really had no point of reference as I’ve never eaten beef tongue before, but it reminded of incredibly tender brisket with fine, little meat fibers. The flavor, however, was much deeper. The tongue was matched nicely with smoked green onion, pepper relish, and aioli. The house-made bread was perfectly toasted and had a nice body to it. The sandwich was rich and unctuous, but was balanced out by the pungent green onion and the side of pickled vegetables. Each component, bold on its own, somehow came together harmoniously to create this one of a kind sandwich.
I’m excited to go back and try some of their other wonderful creations like the Knuckle Sandwich (roast beef, horseradish, onion, cheddar, and au jus) and The Noble Pig (spicy ham, pulled pork, provolone, and bacon), but until then, we return you to your regularly scheduled programming…burgers.