It was an omen of good things to come.
The wedge of homemade focaccia would have nearly been a meal on its own. The interior was hearty and the crust golden brown, studded in spots with fragrant rosemary and black salt — a rare mineral harvested in parts of India, Pakistan, and the Himalayas.
But it was the fantastic stuff sandwiched in between the black salt focaccia that kept spinning through my head for days, after I ate one of the best sandwiches this side of the East River: The Halloumi Sandwich ($10) from the talented team at Newtown, a vegetarian and vegan restaurant in Bushwick focusing on Middle Eastern cuisine.
Halloumi is a Middle Eastern cheese with an unusually high melting point, which allows it to retain its shape and texture when warmed. It plays the part of protein in this sandwich, its exterior, like the focaccia, crisped to golden brown. It is an artful selection, a miracle of dairy more akin to meat than cheese.
Also layered into the sandwich are generous slices of warm eggplant, Portobello mushroom, and tomato. And where other establishments might liven up their sandwich with hummus or mayo, the folks at Newtown add a New York-size shmear of herbed cream cheese, which takes the sandwich to rich new heights.
Newtown hosts a bite-size kitchen and just a few crammed tables in a calm and inviting front room. But, as they say, from tiny kitchens come great sandwiches.
Newtown [55 Waterbury St. between Scholes and Meserole streets, (347) 984–6215].Will Levitt is a Brooklyn-based food writer. Follow him on Twitter @UnderEggWill