Grahamwich (Restaurant, River North)
Location: 615 N. State
Phone: (312) 624 – 9188
Cash Only (for now)
We arrived at Chicago Chef Graham Elliot’s new River North sandwich shop Grahamwich five days after their grand opening, hungry and ready to see if all the hype was worth it. Though the Chef’s already popular self-titled restaurant boasts menu items the everyday layman may shun — think foie gras and pheasant bratwurst — his new endeavor is much more accessible.
At 1:00pm on a Tuesday, we hopped into a surprisingly short line that moved along quickly. This amazing pocket of time probably doesn’t last very long, but I do think it helped to arrive after the noon lunch rush. After expecting to wait at least a half an hour, this was a very pleasant surprise. The sandwiches did take about 10 minutes to make, but it gave us time to snag a couple stools at the sole family-style dining table and chat with our neighbors. The large wooden table only sits about 16 people, so be prepared to wait a bit. Carry-out is also a great option, and you can order up to four sandwiches to go.
All eight sandwiches are $10, perhaps a high pricetag for every day, but worth the occasional indulgence. Our threesome that day split the grilled cheese, the beef shortrib, and the pastrami reuben. The grilled cheese had wisconsin chedder, shaved prosciutto, tomato marmalade, and cheese curds on a pullman loaf. If you’re a cheese lover, this sandwich is for you. I loved every minute of this sandwich, but was swiftly put in a food coma immediately upon finishing. Do not operate heavy machinery after eating this sandwich; instead, make a promise to yourself to not eat cheese curds for at least six months. The cheese curds really shine in the sandwich, but the sweetness of the tomato marmalade and the saltiness of the prosciutto balance the sandwich out well. The beef shortrib was topped with baby watercress, shoestring potatoes, pickled shallots, and creamy horseradish on a pretzel roll. The sandwich comes almost open-faced, with the potato strings balanced on top. That said, I could have done without them as they mostly fell off anyway. Though let it be known that Jackie enjoyed the slight crisp they added to the sandwich texture. The pretzel roll was nice and soft and the meat was oh-so-tender. The reuben came with rutabaga sauerkraut, toasted caraway, gruyere fondue, and 1000 island on marbled rye. This “grahamwich” was a great example of a perfect reuben — fantastic sauerkraut, perfect bread, and a big pile of delicious meat. Well done, Chef.
We shared a couple bags of g’wich chips, but certainly could have just gotten one. The bags are big, which is good seeing as they’ll run you $5. Also try the truffle popcorn… we hear great things!
Over lunch we discussed what we would choose if we owned a restaurant and could pick out staff outfits. Though we agreed we would never make our staff wear white t-shirts and paperboy hats, it seems fitting in this sandwich shop. The staff was friendly and didn’t seem to get too flustered from the long lines and never-ending demand (we imagine they’re used it after five days of non-stop customers). They also made sure to keep the water pitchers full, which was important since they were out of the house-made sodas.
Thanks to our massive sandwiches and ensuing food comas, we didn’t indulge in the sweet treats the shop offers, though they looked fabulous in the counter window. We’ll just have to return for simply dessert and sodas!
Two thumbs up for Graham’s new spot. We can’t wait to see what else this guy has up his sleeve for Chicago…