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Any self-respecting connoisseur of roast beef absolutely must make the pilgrimage to Sheepshead Bay and visit the Mecca of slow-cooked meat, Brennan and Carr.
The delicious, old-school eatery at Avenue U and Nostrand Avenue has been around since 1938, and has always specialized in one item on the menu: the roast beef sandwich ($6.50).
Of course, the roast beef can be enjoyed in a variety of ways — rare or medium rare (don’t even think about well-done), with cheese, and smothered in a delicious beef broth.
The cheese is heavy duty — similar to the Wiz smeared across a Philly Cheese Steak — and we prefer the broth on the side, as the bun can get soggy fast.
(This admission doesn’t come easy; “dipped” — as in the whole sandwich plunged in broth — is considered the original style.)
The beef blast begins with the fresh, warm bun that gives way to the salty, succulent and thin-sliced rare meat in one clean bite. The broth sends the sandwich into the flavor stratosphere.
Of course, any mention of Brennan and Carr should acknowledge the admirable competition only blocks away on Emmons Avenue, Roll N Roaster.
We say Brennan and Carr makes a superior roast beef sandwich — though Roll N Roaster comes in a close second, especially when combined with a refreshing, fresh-made lemonade.
But what gives Brennan and Carr a true advantage over the competition is the atmosphere. It feels as if the restaurant — and the menu — has not changed much since 1938. The smell of the slow-roasting beef fills the place, the sandwiches come out on small plates that end up covered in juices after the first bite, and the table area feels as if it should still be filled with cigarette smoke — though that wouldn’t do the appetite any favors.
When you order a beer and a roast beef, you know that it’s the same combo that people have enjoyed since the day the joint first opened.
Don’t get us wrong, the roast beef sandwich will always be the star of the show — but Brennan and Carr didn’t achieve legendary status on the meat alone.
Brennan and Carr [3432 Nostrand Ave. at Avenue U in Sheepshead Bay. (718) 769-1254].
©2010 Community Newspaper Group
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