By Frank Sabatini Jr. | Restaurant Review
The popular sandwich eatery will soon move to a nearby address
Named after a costly piston-driven door that spans an entire storefront, the eminent sandwich shop known as BFD — or Big Front Door — will soon part ways with its impressive barrier when hopping over into new digs a half-block away.
The 6-year-old eatery plans on moving in late October into the freshly built Park and Polk, a mixed-use housing structure developed by local architect, Jonathan Segal. With a roomy patio incorporated into the layout, it will accommodate three times more seating than it does now.
“We’ll have a big front door at the new location, but in a sliding format that kind of disappears into the wall,” said Steve Riley, who owns the business with his wife, Laura.
As for the customized steel-and-glass door at the original location, “We’ll try to sell it,” he added.
It had been a few years since I ducked into BFD for a gourmet sandwich, which I remembered fondly for its top-selling “loins of fire” featuring a torpedo roll as the vessel for thinly sliced pork, roasted chili peppers, garlic aioli, and pickled onions (before every chef in town started using them).
Another creation I recalled eating with gusto was “smokey the meatloaf,” which puts slabs of the beef-pork loaf between sourdough bread along with cheddar, tomatoes and house ketchup.
Both remain on the menu.
This time I came knocking for some of the newer sandwiches, including the “l.g.b.t,” which Riley introduced about two years ago as a fundraiser for The San Diego LGBT Community Center. Still today, a dollar from each sale of the sandwich goes to the organization.
“The Center is one of our dearest community partners,” he said, adding that BFD also takes part in its annual Dining Out for Life fundraiser.
The “g” in the l.g.b.t. sandwich doesn’t stand for “guacamole” as most would assume. It represents Gouda, which is smoked in-house just like all of the meats here. Naturally, the other ingredients are lettuce, bacon (lots of it) and tomatoes — all tucked into fabulous sourdough sourced from Sadie Rose Baking Company. Imagine a BLT elevated to connoisseur standards, and for a good cause to boot.
My companion, a pescatarian, opted first for the salmon salad as a prelude to a vegan sandwich called the “deep v.” The tender, poached filet was draped over a field’s worth of fresh greens, including string beans and pea sprouts. Capers adorning the fish lent a salty, earthy accent to the medley, although it cried for herbs such as dried tarragon or fresh basil perhaps.
The sandwich, made with hearty whole-grain bread, included a layer of sliced potatoes smoked to the consistency of potato chips. Their bitter essence paired neutrally to ripe tomatoes, leafy lettuce, red onions, pea sprouts and whipped avocado.
Non-vegans might crave a big smear of mayonnaise inside this sandwich while vegans and those who detest mayo will wish for extra measures of the promised olive oil and vinegar, which we couldn’t detect. But with an accommodating staff in place, ask and ye shall receive.
Thinly sliced roast beef in a torpedo roll is given a kicky Asian twist in the “wasabi beef” sandwich, thanks to the namesake condiment made into aioli, plus soy ginger sauce and sesame seeds hiding within the construct. Reappearing were those grassy pea sprouts, but in too high a dose for my liking. After unloading most of them, the savory joys of the beef and other ingredients sprung forth.
There are a handful of other sandwiches I’ve yet to try. The “ham & poppy” looks enticing with sun-dried tomatoes, avocado and poppy seed vinaigrette. Or from the category of hot sandwiches, I’m salivating at the prospects of the baby back rib torpedo with roasted onions and shredded cabbage — and the smoked turkey with gravy, candied-bacon stuffing, green beans and cranberry relish.
Homemade cookies and bottled sodas in fun flavors provide the sweet satiety at BFD, which will continue luring us with creative, uncommon sandwiches that the LGBT community and its supporters have come to adore. Only now, we’ll pass through a different big front door to get our hands on them.
—Frank Sabatini Jr. is the author of “Secret San Diego” (ECW Press) and began his local writing career more than two decades ago as a staffer for the former San Diego Tribune. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.