On Sandwich Brothers And The In-Betweens: Mr. Graham’s Sandwich Shop, Scout Rallos
Life is like a sandwich. The fillings are arranged in a certain way for a reason. Remove any component and you miss out – you must eat it as it is. Experiences, good or bad they may be, make life colorful, and you cannot have one without the other. A short, meaningful, and food-related reflection perfect for today’s post.
I first found out about Mr. Graham's Sandwich Shop during the Best Food Forward Expo in May 2015 at the Power Plant Mall in Makati, through my former partner. We first tried out the joint's homemade apple pie soda, a far cry from the typical soft drinks on the market. This became an instant favorite.
Months later, we again saw the shop at the October 2015 edition of the Katipunan Weekend Market at the UP Town Center. This time, however, we tried out their Cebuano Sandwich – a Filipino twist on the Cubano sandwich that used lechon (roast pig) and pickled mangoes. A serving of this popular sandwich was more than enough for one person, so we had it divided into two.
The knack for business runs in the Grahams' blood. Owner Chris and his brother Carl handle the sandwich shop. Chris' wife Anna – also a member of the vocal trio Baihana – oversees her own café, Mrs. Graham's Macaron Café. Both businesses were formerly located right beside each other, occupying the building right beside the F7 Rallos food establishment complex.
Chris is also a graduate of the Ateneo de Manila University, where I also finished college. We happened to have some common acquaintances who were members of the university's music-oriented organization. Those common batchmates were a topic of our conversation during one evening that I visited his restaurant after work.
I'll stop with the reminiscing and proceed with the food. Here are three of the items I tried out during my visits to the place.
As I mentioned above, Mr. Graham's Apple Pie Soda (P90/bottle) quickly became a favorite beverage. This home-brewed apple and cinnamon soda captured the flavor of the actual baked pie in liquid form, without using chemicals or preservatives. The sweetness came from natural sugar instead of artificial ones, but still – too much of a good thing becomes bad.
Meanwhile, the Sloppy G (P250) is Mr. Graham's take on the classic sloppy joe sandwich made of ground meat. But instead of a ketchup base, Chris' recipe used gravy – making it like a meat loaf (thus, the G in its name). It came with a side of coleslaw and sweet potato chips, the latter made fresh on the premises. I ate this sandwich with utensils as it was more efficient and less messy.
Before I move on the final sandwich, allow me to touch on Mrs. Graham's Macaron Café. This dessert café run by Chris' wife Anna mainly offered the eponymous French confection and an assortment of cakes. It also offered coffee, tea, and other beverages to wash down the sweet treats. Board games were also available for patrons to enjoy, and the store also carried handcrafted products made by local artisans for sale.
The Elvis Press-Me (P180) serves as Mr. Graham's tribute to American musician Elvis Presley, the King of Rock and Roll. It consists of marshmallows, banana slices and bacon rashers in between Cubano bread with praline butter filling. The sandwich is then toasted on a sandwich press, melting the marshmallows and toasting the bread as a result.
The result is a medley of sweet, salty, crunchy, and soft – rounded out by the toasted Cubano bread. The pressing melted both the marshmallows and the praline butter, and released the natural sugars of the bananas. It also crisped up the bacon inside, which gave a salty hint that cut through the sweetness.
I initially got this from the "secret menu" at no cost thanks to Chris, but I paid for the sandwich in subsequent trips. Apparently, part of the gimmick for the Elvis Press-Me involves customers having photo-ops with a pompadour wig. I gamely donned the rubber pompadour and indulged myself with some selfies.
I enjoyed my trip to Mr. Graham's Sandwich Shop, and requested for a parting shot with owners Chris and Carl. Unfortunately, I no longer had the chance to visit the place as I left my previous job and transferred to Eastwood City – my second tour of duty at the business enclave.
The sandwich shop had its last day of operations on December 22, 2016. Patrons paid the joint one last visit, with several musicians performing and serenading the crowd. A fitting send-off indeed.
The Grahams have moved on to other endeavors since then. Such is life; at least I managed to immortalize this restaurant in writing.
Until the next post.