I haven’t stopped thinking about it since.
The shop’s housemade bread — thick, spongy, sporting the subtle funky touch of sourdough and finished with an ultra-chewy crust — is stuffed full with roasted pork, pickled red onion jam, Boursin cheese, cucumber, and “everything” seasoning. Mild pork is matched with a tangy edge from the vibrant, red onion jam. The spreadable, garlicky, Boursin cheese brings a rich, creamy texture; the fresh, thinly sliced cucumbers add a welcome crunch; and a dusting of the “everything” seasoning echoes the pungent flavors of onion and garlic. It’s a perfectly designed sandwich.
Duncan Street opened in Millvale in 2018 and was an extension of Duncan St. Dinners, the popular dinner series from chef/owner duo Kendyl Ryan and Dan Rodriguez.
Ryan and Rodriguez have always had limited dining space inside their cozy storefront, with a backyard patio open in the summer for outdoor eating. In light of the ongoing pandemic, Duncan Street has ditched dining inside altogether. Its take-out operation is smooth: call ahead to place the order, call again to have it ushered to your car door (or hands) when you’ve arrived for pick-up.
Along with my “everything” pork sandwich, I filled a lunch break with the special of late, a pimento cheese sandwich, and a few sides.
The cheese sandwich was set on the same, springy sourdough as the “everything” pork and stacked with pimento cheese, goat cheese, smoked pepper jam, romaine lettuce, and white onion. I expected the handheld to be overwhelmingly rich, the smears of hearty cheeses thick on each piece of bread.
But, once again, Ryan and Rodriguez constructed a skillfully layered sandwich. By spreading the cheeses on opposing slices, they broke up the lush spreadables with a fresh crunch of lettuce and zing of white onion. The cheeses themselves were polar opposites, the goat bringing a tart creaminess, pimento adding sharpness. Smoked pepper jam rounded out the tiers of cheese and vegetable with a robust, savory sweetness.
Sides gave creative twists on comfort food. The shop’s baked beans boasted a smoky, hearty barbeque, while a spicy potato salad punched with brighter flavors. The spicy cucumber salad, however, was by far my favorite. I expected the typical vinegar-doused vegetables; Duncan Street surprised me by peppering the cucumbers with peanuts, a smoked chile cucumber vinaigrette, and a zesty finish of fresh cilantro.
City Paper said it in 2018, and it’s still true today: The Millvale sandwich scene is run on Duncan.
Duncan Street Sandwich Shop. 543 North Ave., Millvale. duncanst.com