Sandwich shops rarely get attention, but Eastcut Sandwich Bar — Brad Bankos and Steve Wuench’s ode to the deli subs they grew up on while living in New York and New Jersey — deserves the love and respect of the entire Triangle. Although it’s about an hour’s walk from campus (or a five-minute drive), it’s undoubtedly worth the journey.
Nestled into a small residential street and found right beside a Doggy Daycare, Eastcut’s location is unassuming, to say the least. But a walk through its doors reveals a fast-casual concept unlike any other. The menu is all-encompassing, from cold cut subs to a fried chicken sandwich to a burger, and is sure to please even the pickiest of eaters. Although all of their options were presented with the same amount of pride, I opted for a double cheeseburger to taste their finesse with a flat-top grill and curb the desire for a good burger on a hot August day. I waited on a beautiful back patio in excited anticipation, and could not have been happier with the result.
Eastcut’s burger follows the traditional burger formula found at many independent eateries: beef patty, American cheese, lettuce, tomato, house pickles and burger sauce, all on a house roll. While the composition may be overplayed, the flavor manifested within was executed well enough to make it distinguishable from the rest. The burgers themselves were cooked to an almost textbook medium, packed with good juiciness and the perfect amount of seasoning to enhance the beefy flavor and bring out the sear of the patty. Well-melted American cheese dressed the patty elegantly, providing the classic cheeseburger flavor without punching you with the “rubberiness” so often found in supermarket brands.
Lettuce and tomato provided a great crunch, and the house pickles offered a more tolerable sourness and a sharp brightness to the creation. The burger sauce was wonderful, adding creaminess to complement the beef and a fantastic sauce to put onto your fries, given that a little bit drips off of your sandwich (which is inevitable). Buns baked in-house seal the deal and provide a wonderful vessel for the burger and its toppings. It rubs shoulders with some of Durham’s best burgers and is among the most comforting I’ve had yet.
Though side dishes are rarely of note, Eastcut’s are an exception. Curly fries serve as a nostalgic accompaniment to this magnificent burger, acting as crisp, crunchy vessels for whatever side sauce you opt to order. But the real game-changers? Sweet potato tots. Rarely does one find a form of sweet potato as amazing as this, but these will be sure to leave an impression on you for their unique flavor and texture. They were perhaps the best accompaniment to a burger I have tried. Crunchy without sacrificing interior integrity, popping a tot into your mouth is akin to biting into a flavorful pillow, and when accompanied with a sauce of your choosing, the experience becomes something of a starch nirvana. Once you have these, you will be longing for them to be beside every burger you eat. If there’s any reason that you were not satisfied with your sandwich (though you may need a class in sandwich appreciation afterward), these tots will have you running back.
Regardless of your attachment to anything between bread, Eastcut will leave you satisfied and hungry for more. If you have the belly room, the “Flight to Sandwich Utopia” will get you three of their signature sandwiches and will be certain to leave you in a state of carbohydrate-induced ecstasy. Otherwise, their burger, fries and tots will inspire your dreams for the next few days, and certainly leave you hungry for more.