Few restaurants have received as much pre-opening buzz as Nick Badovinus‘ highly anticipated Off-Site Kitchen. As a fan of his work at the Neighborhood Services ventures, I’m not ashamed to admit that I was as giddy as a school girl every time a shred of news regarding its opening surfaced. Naturally, when Off-Site Kitchen did open, 98% of the blogosphere rushed to see what kind of magic Badovinus and crew had been brewing up for all those months, and appropriately, nearly every food writer got right to work gushing about it all over the internet. And honestly, it deserved every bit of praise that has been thrown at it.
Now that some of the early chatter has started to simmer down a bit, it seems only appropriate to express my love for the humble, working-man’s menu at Off-Site Kitchen, particularly through praise of one of my favorite items on the menu board, the 48-hr cracked pepper brisket sandwich. It took a few visits to be able to mentally pry myself away from their excessively delicious burgers, but when I was finally able to take the plunge into non-burger territory, my efforts were so handsomely rewarded, I no longer fear to stray.
The brisket sandwich’s core is, of course, a bed of tender, fatty brisket, slow cooked for 48 hours, dripping seductively with rendered fat and meat juice, and flavored subtly with spicy cracked pepper. The chopped beef is stuffed inside a soft white roll, along with melted Swiss cheese and caramelized onions. Shredded lettuce, tomato and a cherry pepper mayo provide the finishing touches on this exquisitely constructed sandwich. The cheese envelops the hot beef and onions, providing a creamy richness to the salty brisket. The tomato and cherry pepper mayo provide a surprisingly tangy sweetness that counters the cheese and beef perfectly. While eating one, it takes everything I have not to run away and hide in some remote cave, gently cradling this sandwich in my arms, rocking back and forth, calling it “my precious.” It’s magical.
If you haven’t visited Off-Site Kitchen yet, what the %&$# are you waiting for? It’s humble, understated location and surrounding industrial sprawl only emphasize that Badovinus has truly created a diamond in the rough. It is also telling, and speaks to Nick’s character and concern for his restaurant’s success, that every time I have eaten at OSK, Nick, himself, is in the kitchen, slinging burgers and dropping fries (which, by the way, are my favorite fries in the city) into hot oil with the rest of the crew. He knows how to cook for the working man, because the dude IS one. My hat’s off to you, sir, and all of your fine crew.