After taking over the space of a Second Avenue Hot and Crusty franchise, Bröd Kitchen (1201 Second Avenue, 212-600-5202) is stepping up Midtown East’s sandwich game. Monette de Botton, creative director of the five-month-old Danish grab-and-go eatery, had a vision for the fledgling restaurant’s next big thing. “I went away and spent a weekend on my own and realized we need to do smørrebrød,” she says. “We need to do these little sandwiches, and they need to be beautiful.”
And beautiful they are. De Botton’s winding path into the culinary world greatly influenced her aesthetic style. “I was an interior designer for years, and I didn’t make my hobby my living,” she says. “It took me well into my forties to figure it out.”
She partnered with former Paris Commune chef Hugo Uys, who hails from South Africa, and the pair crafted several varieties of sweet and savory smørrebrød that artistically showcase fresh, simple ingredients. Smørrebrød, which means “bread and butter” in Danish, began as a working-class lunch staple. It traditionally consists of a thick piece of rye bread, a hefty amount of butter, and any combination of salted meats and rich cheeses. It’s served open-faced.
Savory options, which run from $3 to $4 per piece, include Nordic specialties like the gravlax smørrebrød: smoked salmon, dill mustard sauce, pickled cucumbers, red onions, and fresh dill. Less expected is the roast chicken smørrebrød, which comes with a punch of red horseradish, tangy cream cheese, and sweet curry mango sauce. All savory smørrebrød are served on house-baked rye bread made with unbleached and unbromated flour.
The sweet options, which de Botton hopes become popular breakfast items, include a slice of fruit-and-nut bread dotted with dates, nocciolata, and mint, and a delicately decorated pistachio-and-apricot smørrebrød with crème fraîche and rosemary.
“I don’t eat sweets, but I felt that I wanted to have a healthier sweet option, and that’s what’s happening,” says de Botton. “And they’re selling so well because people come in here and it’s not like eating a big piece of cake.”
Since the sandwiches are very small, the average person would need to eat four to five smørrebrød to feel satiated. If you can hold out until 1 p.m. for lunch, you can take advantage of a happy-hour special — buy two and get one free smørrebrød. The deal runs from now until April 20 from 1 to 7 p.m.
A second location of Bröd Kitchen will be opening in a month at the corner of West 4th Street and University, and will be three times the size of the twenty-seat east-side location. The new outpost will offer the same super-fresh sustainable soups, salads, sandwiches, and baked goods, but will also add on a burger station with house-made rye buns and a pizza station with traditional slices and Nordic-influenced pies. A Hoboken location is on the books for a few months later.