My friends and I are all a bit obsessed with Fort Greene. But I have a confession to make: I knew it by reputation when it used to live in St Kevin’s Arcade, but failed to pay it a single visit until it moved to 327 K’ Rd as of late. My excuse? I have none. Maybe it was the slightly small, pokey space they used to live in, maybe I was never in the area during designated sandwich eating hours. For all my sins for not going before, I am more than making up for it now.
Fort Greene, small time artful sandwich makers and artisanal sourdough bakers now live in a bigger, brighter and more beautiful space along the main strip of K’ Rd. Big, plate glass fronting with the occupant’s name etched in old school gold lettering looks in on a serene space with duck egg green walls and blonde woodwork. Even at its busiest on a late weekend morning, Fort Greene evokes a feeling of comfort and pure joy. So too do their sandwiches and baking.
Consciousness is the thing at the moment. Conscious gifting; conscious menstruation; conscious consumption. Forte Greene and its owner-operators are a conscientious pair, using the best quality, seasonal, sustainable, fair, and kind (as can be) ingredients to create superlative sandwiches, baked goods and coffee. Their menu, for example, is ever-changing to suit the season and what is nature’s bounty. One weekend I had the pleasure of eating their fish sandwich, with grilled sourdough bread encasing sustainable, line-caught smoked Kahawai fish fingers (crumbed, crispy and all!), mushy peas, tartare sauce and organic pea shoots. Yes, yes, yes! This is one of the best sandwiches I’ve ever had. Each bite makes me nostalgic, of preschool lunches and fish fingers, only much more gourmet, and sustainable.
It is a hard choice, to choose only one sandwich every time I visit. When visiting with friends, we opt to chop and exchange our sandwiches so everyone can share in the glory. I have also had their classic grilled cheese sandwich, featuring four types of cheeses and richness cutting pickles and pickled red cabbage. This is a good one for the fromage lovers out there. I kept thinking about how good the fish finger sandwich was, and how much I wanted to have one all to myself, but as per their commitment to conscious sandwich crafting, in just a couple of weeks the fish finger sandwich was off the menu. But I know me; once I’ve found something I like, I have to be made to order something else under duress. So most recently, under the duress of hunger, I ordered the vege one (that’s its official name), and it was a goodun’. The vege one has a Middle Eastern slant, filled with grilled haloumi and white bean hummus, sumac, cucumber, radish, marinated onions, pine nuts and greens. Another brilliant sandwich, contrasting the freshness and crunch of radish and cucumbers, with the toasty flavours of pine nuts and hummus.
For the sandwich-ists who think sandwiches don’t yet constitute a meal, the menu still caters for the likes of you (biggots). Everything, except the museli, is built around their house-made sourdough. There’s an omelette with Den Miso crème, toasted nori and seasame seeds, and tartine style dishes like beans on toast with Oaxaca mole roja, and asparagus, ricotta and broad beans.
I’ve talked an awful lot about sandwiches but have saved the best for last. A visit to Forte Green is not complete until one finishes with a cinnamon, orange, walnut sough dough bun. Sort of like a Chelsea bun, but waaay better. A fat, golden brown snail of dough hiding cinnamon spice and chopped walnuts within its folds; finished with lashings of white icing. As you bite in you’ll find the soughdough makes it a little heavier than expected, and you’ll be hit with the heady scent of orange. There are few sweet things in life I adore, but the iced bun at Forte Green is definitely one of them.
327 Karangahape Road