One of the best Cuban sandwiches in New York is made by an Englishwoman at a gastropub in the West Village. We kid you not. While The Spotted Pig chef April Bloomfield might not have any Caribbean blood, her version of a Cubano ($18) — admittedly three times the price of your average Miami version — is also three times as delicious.
The Michelin-starred chef improves on every aspect of the classic. Bloomfield’s tender, slow-cooked pork shoulder is the hallmark of the assemblage. In place of the common Swiss cheese, she goes for a higher-quality Gruyere. And there are no chewy, thick slabs of ham in her meaty pile; instead, thin yet powerfully-flavored prosciutto adds salty depth. Chopped cornichons, mimicking a mustardy essence, combine with pickled jalapeno for an acid kick. The sandwich is then bookended with crusty bread and warmed until the cheese oozes and the flavors fuse. Served at lunchtime only, with a side of vinegar-and-oil slicked arugula salad, Bloomfield’s Cubano was ranked No. 3 in New York magazine‘s top 101 sandwiches in New York City.
The Spotted Pig celebrates its 10th birthday in February 2014. Since its opening, Bloomfield and business partner Ken Friedman have also masterminded three other super-popular Manhattan restaurants: The Breslin and The John Dory within the Ace Hotel; and Salvation Taco in the Pod 39 hotel.
In retrospect, it’s not very surprising that Bloomfield excels with the porky sandwich. Her cookbook is called A Girl and Her Pig, for starters, and the restaurant is strewn with hundreds of pig figurines. Bloomfield has also been a finalist for the James Beard Foundation Award for Best Chef New York three years in a row. Such skills and a penchant for pig mean that if April is overseeing the swine, the results, no matter what ethnicity, will be spectacular.