A local daily recently reviewed several national fast-food chains, including McDonald's and KFC, even praising sub shop Quizno's. Reader reaction ranged from outrage ("That food is disgusting!") to bemusement ("Gotta be satire, right?"), because it's obviously challenging to perfume that particular pig. Dine in enough Subways, and the Five-Dollar Footlong seems less a bargain than a trial. So when an independent sandwich shop comes along that emphasizes quality over quantity, it immediately stands out. When its quality is as good as Cutty's, a 16-seat counter-service spot in Brookline Village, it seems nearly heavenly.
Cutty's is not for gorgers: sandwiches aren't quite six inches long. But the chef is ex–America's Test Kitchen, so you know he's tried hundreds of iterations before finalizing his specialty sandwiches. His standard-bearer is the spuckie ($3.95/half; $7.75/whole), which layers three very high-quality cold cuts (finocchiona, hot salami, mortadella) with house-made mozzarella and olive salad on ciabatta. The eggplant spuckie ($3.75; $7.25) substitutes thin-sliced roasted eggplant for the meats. Roast beef ($7.95) includes crisped shallots, Thousand Island dressing, and cheddar. One ham sandwich ($6.65) includes house-made pickles and pimiento cheese, a Southern spread blending mild cheeses, mayo, and jarred pimentos in a version so good my homesick Dixie buddy nearly cried. Another ($6.45) simply adds butter, Dijon, and gherkins on baguette. Marinated roast pork ($8.75–8.95, Saturdays only) includes either pickled fennel and roasted garlic or rapini and sharp provolone, served on a sesame roll. Each of these sandwiches is simply phenomenal, incorporating extraordinary-quality ingredients, bold but not overly busy flavor combinations, and great breads from Iggy's.
The same care and craft extend to a simple salad of mixed greens ($4.85) lightly dressed in good vinaigrette, and fresh-tasting tomato soup ($3.65) boasting house-made croutons and a light slick of olive oil. House-made potato chips ($2) are featherweight and perfectly browned. The fine in-house baked goods include brown-sugar cookies (95 cents), Rice Krispies treats ($1.65), and crumb cake ($1.75). Iggy's bagels ($1.35), croissants ($1.56), and sticky buns ($1.65) are also offered. The kitchen serves its own excellent granola with yogurt and honey ($3.65), pours fine filter coffee ($1.65; $1.85), and squeezes fresh limeade to order ($1.85). The rich chocolate milk ($1.45) is from Milton's Thatcher Farm. In a Walmart-size world that increasingly favors cheap, shoddy bulk, Cutty's offers a rare spectacle to gladden a real food-lover's heart: folks crowding in to pay a premium for a little bit less of something quite a bit better.
Cutty's, located at 284 Washington Street, in Brookline, is open Monday–Friday, 7 am–3pm, and Saturday, 8 am–3 pm. Call 617.505.1844.