Boston-Charlie's Sandwich Shoppe
The short order cook is an art form. It is a cross between traffic cop and ballet dancer. A smooth working cook is a joy to watch. It leaves the wondering why they can’t work as well at home. Unfortunately these cook have been regulated to the back, toiling away behind the scenes. Normally, in a restaurant, one does not want to sit near the kitchen, this not the case at Charlie’s Sandwich Shoppe in Boston (429 Columbus Ave. 617.536.7669). Upon seeing the cook working the line behind the counter I grabbed a stool right in front of the action.
Walking in to Charlie’s one knows immediately that they have found them selves in a unique place. The tables are shared seating. The patrons are a mix of regulars and tourists. It is easy to tell the tourists they are the ones not talking. That soon changes and soon the tourists are talking (sports for the most part). But the first thing that hits the eye is the long counter that runs the length of the place. This brings me back to the cook. He is out there in the open all the cooking is done right behind the counter. Far from being stressed by the mounting orders the cook to talks easily with the regulars at the counter as he works the stove.
One of their signature dishes is turkey hash. It is rich and satisfying with a golden crust that one can’t help but luxuriate in. Two eggs come with it and these too are cooked perfectly; over easy sometimes are left little runny but not here. All this completed by a cook working so smoothly, and effortlessly, that you feel that your breakfast is almost an after thought.
Charlie’s has been around for years, since 1927 according to their sign out front. And they have been doing so well that, a few years ago, the place was awarded a James Beard award.
Personally I think we need more places like Charlie's.