Meat Hook Sandwich Shop (495 Lorimer Street, Brooklyn; 718-302-4665) is the sister shop of the Meat Hook, a Brooklyn-based butcher shop that specializes in locally sourced meats. Butchers and chefs Ben Turley and Brent Young launched the Meat Hook in 2009; a few years in, they realized they required space for more than just the butcher shop. Last year, during Memorial Day weekend, they opened the doors of Meat Hook Sandwich Shop, which is certainly more tailored to a vegetarian diet than the butcher shop.
Chef Gil Calderon runs the shop and sees the eatery as another outlet for vegetarians, especially with the meat-free sides they serve. “Meat is great, but we always love to have a balanced dinner plate where meat is not necessarily the main event,” Calderon tells the Voice.
According to Calderon, the creation of the shop’s vegetarian sandwich ($13) was actually an accident. Before their official opening, the eatery opened for friends and family; at the time, their butcher shop staff was largely vegetarian — they came to the event and obviously needed something to eat. Calderon and his team weren’t prepared to serve vegetarians; the current veggie sandwich is what they came up with, on that first day. The concoction of shaved, pickled, marinated, fried, and roasted vegetables — and a purple spread made of roasted beets, fried Korean sweet potato, carrots, and tahini — was an instant hit, and tested better than every other version of a vegetarian sandwich they’d introduced.
The colorful sandwich, which is also vegan, is a hotbed of different tastes and textures, with an overall pickled taste. It features a toasted sesame bun, with fried onions also providing a note of pungency. The beet spread has a sharp, salty taste that immediately hits your taste buds with the first bite.
If your palate is sensitive to anything even marginally fishy, then the seaweed salad with Vietnamese dressing ($4) might not be for you. The seaweed tastes like the sea — as it should — and the kelp noodles are slightly slimy. Peanuts add a pleasing crunch to the salad.
The shop prepares esquites ($4), Mexican street corn salad, with hominy, baby corn, and sweet corn, a cilantro lime dressing, chile powder, and parmesan cheese.The corn is crisp and ever so sweet, which pairs well with the creamy, tangy sauce and the chile’s hint of heat — we only wish that there were even more spice in the dish.