Monday, January 3, 2011

Banh Mi Battel-Princeton MA

What: Banh Mi
Where: Black Diamond
499 Mountain Road
Princeton MA 01541
How Much: $11.00 & tax (includes french fries and cole slaw)

Banh Mi. The words give me pause and cause me to wonder just what and where is the perfect Banh Mi sandwich shop.  Thanks to a heads up from Sunshine, I found a place to try that I have not been to yet.

(readers, cue U2 - New Year’s Day) (clicking on link should open YouTube in a new browser tab so you can hear my selected audio track playing, but you will have to click back on this tab to return) (this finally works again)

This day's travels took me to Princeton MA to take Taters and K skiing.

We followed Edzo, Bakin', Cesius and Ocho up. YM was working. Or eating bon-bons. Or both.

We headed up early to beat the holiday crowds.  When we got to the mountain, something stirred in my slightly coffee stimulated brain after seeing the sign for Black Diamond and got me thinking that this might have been the ski mountain that Sunshine was talking about. I was on autopilot  when I woke up and made myself a capicola and fried pepper sangwich on a Harvest Bakery (Bristol CT) hard roll (aka bulkie roll in MA).  Black Diamond opened at 11AM.  At that moment I was happy to skip the sangwich and worse case, add another blog post from someplace unexpected.  I got my blog post, but none the happier.

Banh Mi University graduate?  No way. Note the white deli wrap underneath the sandwich and no elastic. The whole sandwich was encased in a clear plastic takeout container.  The bread was a huge downfall.  It was called a baguette on the menu, but it barely qualified as "an almost stale sub roll that was way too hard on the end". Maybe due to the fact it was New Year's Day when I visited, the bread baking/delivery didn't happen and they had to use some left over stuff.

The menu says "Asian style sausage flavored with basil and sriracha." Well, it seemed to be an ordinary pork sausage that was tossed in the flattop, flattened and burned to an inch of its life. No taste of either basil or Sriracha. It was fatty and not juicy. Low and slow my not have saved it, but certainly would have made it a step toward edible.

Plant material quality was awful. Cilantro amounted to one limp sprig. Carrots were somewhat crisp, but they were part of some "slaw" that was mixed with some slivers of not so crisp radish.  There was no onion, daikon, scallions or cucumber. More importantly, it lacked any hot peppers and had no fish/soy sauce to give it that salty tang. The mayo was a "spicy sriracha mayo".  It was not the least bit spicy and looked more like Thousand Island dressing. The sandwich had  no afterburn.  Size was smaller than most.

Black Diamond, primarily a sit down restaurant, is upstairs at the lodge.  I was able to get takeout at the bar.  The bartender was nice, but totally didn't get the Banh Mi name.  Then I said "Vietnamese sandwich?" She looked at another staff member who said "Asian sandwich".  I should have known then...

The kitchen was well into the lunch crowd by the time I got upstairs. No excuses for me being early or catching them unprepared.

So you ask me, what was I thinking, or more critically, did I have a right to expect anything else?

I was thinking that perhaps there is a chef out there who was trying do do something different and maybe I would be surprised.  If you call it Banh Mi, you have to have a pretty good idea what it is and what the ingredients are.  The pub already serves some beef, carrots, onions, cilantro, jalapenos and cucumber.  The chef made the effort to bring in the Sriracha, why not some fish sauce or at least some soy. They had the ingredients but couldn't put it together.

Adding to the unusual (for Banh Mi) were the french fries and cole slaw as sides.  These additions kept it from being the most expensive Banh Mi I ever had (which was pre-blog days at T.I. in Las Vegas and delicious).  Fries were steak style and not as good as the ones served downstairs with the chicken strips.  The slaw was typical giant white bucket o' commercial slaw.  I guess that was what all the other sandwiches came with.

I'd give it .5B/6 for at least naming it a Banh Mi and challenging the customer.  My fear is that those who try this version for their first time will never try one again.


An terrible Banh Mi. Order anything else on the menu. 

Black Diamond Restaurant on Urbanspoon

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