The Commercial Appeal - Go Memphis - - INTHE­ATERS -

Chilean from Pop’s Deli (my fa­vorite sand­wich in the bracket) was his­tory when it went up against Fino’s, de­spite Her­ring­ton and I both cast­ing 55/45 votes in fa­vor of it.

Folks love their Fino’s, and I’m re­signed to the cold shoul­der from fam­ily mem­bers. Hey, I love Fino’s too. (It took 57 per­cent of the pop­u­lar vote and 45 per­cent from Her­ring­ton and from me; the fi­nal tally: El­wood’s, 51 per­cent; Fino’s, 49 per­cent.)

“I call it my $225,000 sand­wich be­cause it’s why I bought the place,” Wil­son said. He pur­chased Fino’s on the Hill, at Madi­son Av­enue and Mclean Boule­vard, in 2009 and opened Fino’s East late last year.

“I never tried a soup or a salad at Fino’s un­til I bought the place,” he said. “For about 8½ years, I ate the New York Club ev­ery week.”

It’s a riff on a Reuben: Corned beef, tur­key, Swiss cheese, house-made Rus­sian dress­ing, mar­i­nated toma­toes and onions (also done in house), and let­tuce. It’s served on a baguette from La Baguette or, upon re­quest, a soft hoagie bun.

“I have no idea how many of them we sell,” Wil­son said. “I know it’s not our most pop­u­lar sand­wich, which is tur­key.”

Fino’s takes the Peo­ple’s Choice award and gets a pub­lic apol­ogy and hearty con­grat­u­la­tions from me.

Now to the De­bris Po’boy. Bed­narski cooks a 30-pound chuck roast ev­ery cou­ple of days to keep up with de­mand for his sand­wich, which wasn’t pop­u­lar at the be­gin­ning. He had it on the menu shortly af­ter open­ing El­wood’s 3½ years Shred­ded

chicken thigh and other fixin’s are packed

into The Verno sand­wich at The Se­cond Line. It’s named

for ra­dio host Chris

Ver­non. ago but took it off af­ter just a few months. He put it back about eight or nine months ago, and it’s been a suc­cess this time around.

“I take the meat, cut it in big pieces and rub each piece in gar­lic, salt, black pep­per, cayenne, oregano, basil and thyme,” he said. The meat goes into a large roast­ing pan with toma­toes, tomato paste, ap­ple­wood ba­con, caber­net, Worces­ter­shire sauce, onion and cel­ery, and it’s cooked at 250 de­grees for 15 hours, un­til it’s fal­la­part ten­der.

Bed­narski worked in the cor­po­rate restau­rant world be­fore he opened El­wood’s, and he spent a short time “baby-sit­ting” a restau­rant for Landry’s in New Or­leans.

“It was about 20 years ago, and I was there for about three weeks,” he said. “It was right across the street from Johnny’s Po’boys, and I ate the de­bris ev­ery day.”

That’s where he got the idea to serve his De­bris dressed with a mix of two mus­tards and may­on­naise, and he puts in all on a po’boy bun from Gam­bino’s in New Or­leans. He got the idea for the cab­bage on the sand­wich from an­other New Or­leans in­sti­tu­tion, Mother’s. The Shrimp Torta at Las Tor­tu­gas Deli Mex­i­cana has a ded­i­cated fol­low­ing.

It’s an ex­cel­lent sand­wich, and con­grat­u­la­tions to Bed­narski, too, the win­ner of the first Great Mem­phis Sand­wich Show­down.

Now, just for fun, let’s look back at some of the other sand­wiches. The vot­ers love their subs from the High­land Su­per Sub­ma­rine Sand­wich Shop; me, not so much. I gave it my low­est per­cent­age — 35 per­cent to it and 65 to Ciao Baby’s ex­cel­lent meat­ball sand­wich. Her­ring­ton split it 55/45 in fa­vor of the meat­ball, and the 61/39 land­slide of the peo­ple was null.

I couldn’t save one of my top five sand­wiches, the Spice Seared Tuna BLC at Ba­balu, not when the peo­ple and Her­ring­ton went with Kwik Chek’s The Turk.

And speak­ing of: My top picks were the Chilean, The Verno, the Spice Seared Tuna BLC, the Fat Panda at Sidestreet Burg­ers in Olive Branch, and the De­bris. All of these sand­wiches are be­yond meat and bread, each with house-made in­gre­di­ents. I also love the Muf­fuletta at High Point Pizza (just cold cuts but with house­made olive salad), and de­spite the vote that makes it look oth­er­wise, the New York Club at Fino’s. I like Rus­sian dress­ing and those great mar­i­nated toma­toes and onions on any sand­wich I or­der there.

Her­ring­ton’s fa­vorites were the Shrimp Torta at Las Tor­tu­gas (I love the place, but the tamales are my greater weak­ness), the Chilean (re­ally, you have to try this sand­wich, and the chicken is bet­ter than the beef), and the Banh Mi at Pho Saigon. Honor­able men­tions went to The Fat Panda, the Cat­fish Po’boy at Soul Fish, the Cuban at Mcewen’s, the Muf­faletta and The Verno.

Of course, as it al­ways hap­pens, even more sand­wiches have come to our at­ten­tion since the bracket was made. All in good time. For now, we have a crowned win­ner with El­wood’s De­bris Po’boy, and the peo­ple have spo­ken loud and clear for the New York Club at Fino’s. The Shrimp Torta and The Verno were well rep­re­sented.

Of course, English wanted to win, and he and Ma­gal­lanes re­ally wanted a show­down.

“But Fino’s and El­wood’s are great,” English said. “I don’t hang my head low com­ing in be­hind ei­ther of those.”


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