If you can’t deal with a bun that is soaked through, don’t go to Brennan and Carr. If you think meat that is steamed until it turns grey is gross, don’t go to Brennan and Carr. But if you want a classic Brooklyn roast beef sandwich, this is your place.

27July2006Brennan2.jpgBrennan and Carr can be found in a part of New York that is probably not much like your neighborhood. For one thing, they have a parking lot. And there are five other parking lots within 200 feet. The intersection is Avenue U (I hope you didn’t think they only went up to Avenue D), Nostrand Avenue (that's a big one you may know), and Gravesend Neck Road (my favorite name for any street in New York).

Clearly, I’m not speaking to the half a million people who live anywhere near Brennan and Carr. Every south Brooklynite knows this institution well. It’s been around since the year Hank Greenberg hit 58 home runs. But the rest of New York, if not the world, should know of Brennan and Carr’s glory.

Their Irish-style roast beef sandwich goes by the name “Hot Beef” on the menu. The dark interior, decorated in a decidedly pre-1930s fashion, is a bit disorienting. But you can order your hot beef injection at a window that opens onto Avenue U where you can enjoy the sunshine on your way to fishing in Sheepshead Bay or sunning on Manhattan Beach.

27July2006Brennan3.jpgAnd eating at the counter by the window allows you to experience your sandwich standing up. The au jus is plentiful to say the least (and you can order more if you like), so don’t be surprised if you drip onto yourself. But even if you stain your lily white shorts, a trip to Brennan and Carr is well worth it. After a couple of bites, the soggy bread mingles with and eventually fuses to the soaking wet roast beef. About half way through, the sandwich becomes one delicious, unified being.

Roll N’ Roaster is just about seven blocks south on the water at Emmons Avenue. But the Roll N’ Roast Beef Sandwich is as opposite as a roast beef sandwich can get from Brennan and Carr’s. Roll N’ Roaster’s is best with cheese whiz and onions. Brennan and Carr’s is best plain. Roll N’ Roaster’s tastes like fast food (in a good way). Brennan and Carr’s tastes like it’s been slow cooked.

And if you are afraid of making a mess, you should still go to Brennan and Carr. Maybe you can get someone to hold it for you while you eat.


Brennan and Carr, 3432 Nostrand Avenue, Brooklyn, 718-646-9559