Chef Tommy Habetz made a name for himself churning out high-priced entrées at such tony bistros as Meriwether’s and the old Gotham Tavern, where his work showed diligence and, at times, genuine artistry.
Now, in what might be the latest trend to sweep Portland’s food scene, Habetz has opted for a simpler culinary existence. With Meriwether’s former sous-chef, Nick Wood, he’s opened Bunk Sandwiches, a small neighborhood sandwich shop with all the decorative allure of a skid-row soup kitchen, and about as many hungry souls vying for a table.
The revolving menu is a mix of classic sandwiches along with a few more adventurous creations, like a Reuben made with pork belly and Russian dressing. For a full-on rib sticker, look no further than the meatball parmigiana hero ($8), a gorgeous mess of beef-and-pork meatballs submerged in marinara. The roast beef on a kaiser roll ($8) gets high marks for the sweet-hot play between the creamy horseradish and the onions.
Yes, Subway offers more square footage, but here, you’ll walk away from your tuna melt wondering what gave it that delicate flavor (it’s the balsamic vinegar). In each of Bunk’s lunchables, there’s a certain lightness of being that’s hard to suss out. Our suggestion: brave the line, sit with strangers, or eat standing up.