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Jun 12, 2013 08:20 AM

Open face(d)

Been curious about the open face(d) sandwich in many places around the NY NJ Conn tri-state area. Burgers, sandwiches and the like.
The burger has the cheese on the bun, but it's easy to top and eat.
The sandwich, especially the Reuben in some places is soggy rye bread and a lot of very wet sauerkraut a few slices of corned beef/pastrami and some semi-melted swiss cheese. It's a knife and fork sandwich for sure. Not easy to close and eat like a sandwich between two slices of bread. But no indication of this is made on the menus and some menus with pictures show a sandwich not open face(d).

What are chowhounds opinions on the open face(d) sandwiches?
Like 'em? Not like 'em?

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    1. re: Gastronomos

      That isn't open faced.

      Open faced (to me) is the swch minus one piece of bread.

      1. re: JayL

        most "open face(d)" I've been served have two pieces of bread under the toppings.

        1. re: Gastronomos

          Well then...let's say it has no top...

          1. re: JayL

            if I asked for a "top" could I pick it up and eat it as a sandwich?

            1. re: Gastronomos

              I could care less about that.

              Most, if not all, open faced sandwiches I've ever seen are not meant to be picked up and eaten.

              1. re: JayL

                Agreed. At least in all the diner's in which I spent my mis-spent youth.

                1. re: JayL

                  which i believe many of us agreed with here. fork & knife doesn't make it any less a sandwich...hence the words open faced sandwich...but G. has other ideas.

                  makes life interesting not bothersome.

                  1. re: HillJ

                    " ...fork & knife doesn't make it any less a sandwich...hence the words open faced ........."

                    I feel, in the case of a Reuben, it does make for a lesser sandwich. Too often, the meat is dried out and/or the cheese is burnt or rubbery. A Reuben is a grilled sandwich requiring two pieces of bread, a top and a bottom. Anything else is not a Reuben.

                    1. re: grampart

                      Sounds like a lousy Reuben. I like Reuben open or closed and what comes to mind is a) finding a partner cause the sandwich is too big for one and b) getting a top notch Reuben or it's going back to the kitchen.

        2. re: Gastronomos

          That's a regular hamburger before the top of the bun is placed.

          1. re: c oliver

            "That's a regular hamburger before the top of the bun is placed."

            when does it become a cheeseburger?

            1. re: Gastronomos

              Sorry. It's a cheeseburger and you know that.

              1. re: c oliver

                not to be obtuse but the cheese is on the bun not the burger and if I were to add sliced tomato (if I bothered to order the "Deluxe") the cheese would then be on the tomato as well, still not the burger.

                Ok, that is being obtuse, but no more than some of the others here and their defenses, LOL!

        3. like's usually something like the Rueben, as you described, which would be an absolute mess to pick up. Too big, too drippy, bread falling apart halfway thru. Plus, cutting the sandwich with knife/fork allows me to eat the parts I want to eat first, vs. the forced progression of a hand-held sandwich!

          5 Replies
          1. re: BeeZee

            BeeZee, you in jersey?

            also, I think my question was phrased wrong. it being too big and messy is the problem, but not stated or eluded to on the menu is a bigger problem. I ordered a sandwich that was not on the "hot open" sandwich column.

            do chowhounds like it when presented with an open face(d) sandwich when ordering something that in most places is served as a sandwich between two pieces of bread? the classic Reuben included.

            1. re: Gastronomos

              OK, reading through the progression of the thread, I now understand that you are disappointed if you see "sandwich" on the menu and are presented not with 2 pieces of bread enclosing a filling in a manner that allows you to pick it up in hand. gotcha.
              Yes, I'm a Jersey Girl...and I've gotten to the point that I'm surprised by a Rueben not served open-faced...but I agree that I do prefer the menu to differentiate, since it sets different expectations.

                  1. re: Gastronomos

                    Oops, it appears you missed this in replying to my questions.

                    " c oliver about 2 hours ago
                    Since you seem to experience this fairly often AND it bothers you, why not just ask "how do you serve that?" Then you can make the decision to order that or something else. Not rocket surgery :)"

            2. I'm from NJ but never thought of the open faced sandwich as just a Jersey thing...
              my husband and sons will eat an open faced hot turkey, hot ham and swiss cheese, hot pastrami sandwich with a side of slaw, pickle and fries at least once a week. on rye or dark russian bread.

              21 Replies
              1. re: HillJ

                it's not just a Jersey thing. I think that in Jersey and LI it's more common to find a diner that has a Reuben or some sandwich on the menu and it doesn't say "open face(d)". When one orders a sandwich such as the Reuben, and it comes to the table as not a sandwich but rather a knife and fork meal, I, for one, am not pleased. I ordered a sandwich as described on the menu.
                A "hot open face(d)" turkey or roast beef with gravy etc. is described as such on the menu. a cheeseburger is usually easy enough to assemble.

                do chowhounds find this satisfactory or are chowhounds indifferent when ordering a sandwich?

                1. re: Gastronomos

                  See now my experience on this is that an open faced sandwich (typically served hot) I expect to enjoy with a fork and knife because it's a warm meal and especially if a good deal of melted cheese is included over top. Open faced sandwiches don't really have a divide line between the two slices of bread and the cheese is melted over both sides like a blanket. A burger served open is so you can add condiments; this is a different thing, yes? A triple decker (cold sandwich; even with bacon) I usually need to pull apart to get my mouth around and decidedly turn it into a open faced sandwich of sorts. Tuna, egg & chicken salad sandwiches can be served open or closed.

                  I've found open faced sandwiches in NY, PA, DE and IL right off the top of my beanie.

                  And the one that throws me is an open faced sub sandwich.

                  1. re: HillJ

                    In most places around the US outside of Jersey style diners, a Reuben is a hot sandwich with hot corned beef/pastrami, hot sauerkraut, melted cheese and dressing - not open faced unless the menu says so.

                    Hot open sandwiches are great if desired and even greater if one knows that is what they ordered before the surprise...

                    hot open faced sub sandwiches are what I seem to get at all the pizzerias around here. so difficult to eat as well without the use of a knife and fork... or at least a fork to help empty it a bit before folding and eating...

                    1. re: Gastronomos

                      oh so its the not knowing how you will be presented with your sandwich (open or closed) that's the bugger? do you ask ahead of ordering? I can't say I do. Open or closed I'm digging in that sandwich!

                      1. re: HillJ

                        I don't ever ask or make 'special' requests. I order a sandwich in a place and I expect a sandwich. if it was described or labeled as 'open face(d)' I may order that if in the mood. if I order a reuben and it comes open face(d) and in such a sloppy way that I cannot close it to eat it like a sandwich, I would be less satisfied. but all's good. I was curious what chowhounds thought about the surprise. disappointed or not?

                        1. re: Gastronomos

                          Yeah, sometimes my brain is as slow as a Jersey snail, G.

                          1. re: Gastronomos

                            Since you seem to experience this fairly often AND it bothers you, why not just ask "how do you serve that?" Then you can make the decision to order that or something else. Not rocket surgery :)

                            1. re: c oliver

                              it's not rocket surgery. no.

                              it is open for preference and discussion.

                              I see those that like diners of the New Jersey style have defended these open face(d) sandwiches and won't budge on that.

                              I see that some see that if a person ordered a sandwich and it was served open faced, not being able to close the sandwich and eat it would be bothersome. Yes. A knife and fork will solve that problem of stuffing it into ones pie hole.

                              I am also of Greek heritage. My family is not in the diner business or any food business at all. But friends through the years own and have worked these places. I subsequently do not make special requests, ever, and I do not ask the surly waitperson questions. I order and usually suffer through it.

                              I do ask here what chowhounds think of these wet soggy "sandwiches" that are knife and fork meals but not describes as such on the menu.

                      2. re: HillJ

                        "A burger served open is so you can add condiments; this is a different thing, yes?"


                        1. re: Gastronomos

                          I often am served burgers open but assume it's for condiment application and the bun is then applied and it's eaten as a "sandwich"

                          1. re: fldhkybnva

                            you "assume"

                            does that mean that if it were not open you would not apply condiments?

                            1. re: Gastronomos

                              Are you saying you seriously eat your burger one side at a time if it shows up on the plate separately?

                              1. re: Gastronomos

                                I don't know what is done on the east coast. out west an open face sandwich means it is probably meant to be eaten that way and is probably covered in mashed potatoes and gravy.

                                Hamburgers in "better" establishments are almost always served with the top bun and main condiments on the side, as mentioned by others to allow people to add their own minor condiments such as mayo, ketchup, mustard, relish, etc. This does not 'imply' that the burger is to be eaten with a knife and fork. So in my mind at least it is a very different thing, yes. No assumption, it is common practice.

                            2. re: HillJ

                              "A burger served open is so you can add condiments; this is a different thing, yes?"


                              1. re: JayL

                                No, yes...okay...

                                I'm thinking, the only reason a burger would be served open is so the customer can add ketchup.

                                1. re: HillJ

                                  it is That difficult to serve it closed and the customer could then Still add ketchup?

                                  1. re: Gastronomos

                                    You are making a silly point.

                                    It's about presentation as well as "filling the plate".

                                    1. re: JayL

                                      Thank you! Exactly!

                                      I like the presentation of a burger in a basket of fries. Diner style.

                              2. re: HillJ

                                "open faced sub sandwich"

                                Awfully pretty

                                Jumbo shrimp

                                Adult male

                                Dry Martini

                                Comfortable bra

                                And, my personal favorite: French deodorant.

                          2. I don't think it's a Jersey thing, but I don't personally enjoy them as my idea of a sandwich usually includes picking up the item and biting into them but I know plenty of people who don't mind it.

                            btw that sandwich looks great!

                            1. I am generally not a fan of 'open-faced' sandwiches. When I order a sandwich, I want to pick it up to eat it.

                              When I was in my 20's, I went to a small town cafe and ordered a 'hot beef sandwich' and was surprised with what the waitress brought me. It was good, it just was not a sandwich.