SOMA lunchers, take note: The nabe has another worthy sandwich shop. Proprietor Adam Mesnick, also of the Deli Board, changed up the concept of his sub shop a few weeks ago. The new Rye Project, named after Mesnick's pop-up, features a whittled-down new menu focusing on a few sandwiches served on rye or a Kaiser roll, as well as smoked fish on a platter or on a bagel.
The thinly sliced Romanian pastrami ($14) is a mess of a sandwich in the best possible way. Its meat has a wonderfully dark, smoky appearance and comes dripping with grease, though not so much that it overwhelms the sandwich or the stomach. There's sauce on the side, but you don't need it — the unadulterated meat, between two thin slices of rye, is enough to make a total experience, especially when you alternate the rich bites with nibbles of the accompanying semi-sour pickle.
"Adam's Bonanza" platter is a deal at $26: generous portions of three kinds of fish (smoked salmon, smoked trout, and whitefish salad), two bagels, a tuft of alfalfa sprouts, some perfectly ripe red tomatoes, pickled peppers, pickled onions, cucumber slices, hardboiled egg, and more, so you can choose your own bagel adventure. The most surprising thing on the platter was also the best, a slightly spicy salmon cream cheese that Mesnik makes with lox ends and some Thai chiles.
There are a few tables in the small shop, underneath giant photographs of deli food icons, but about half the crowd seemed to take sandwiches and the large-format salads to go.
This sandwich shop and I have a history. Its former incarnation, sub shop 1058 Hoagie, was the cause of a minor kerfuffle between Mesnick and myself a few years ago when I called a few of his sandwiches "boring" in a review. This new iteration lives up to all the promise of the Deli Board's best sandwiches, which won SF Weekly's Best Excuse to Nap Under Your Desk award in our 2013 Best Of issue. And after lunch at the Rye Project, "boring" never even crossed my mind.