The sanctity of the breakfast sandwich has been breached in Chelsea, where a new restaurant dedicated to a "fresh take" on the classic bacon, egg and cheese has opened. BEC threw open its doors on Tuesday serving up all manner of egg-topped sandwiches, with fillings like lamb sausage, flat iron angus steak and all manner of pestos and spreads. But if you're going to dominate the breakfast sandwich game in this town, you need to have the basics down, which is what I sampled this morning on a visit to the shop.
The BEC Classic comes with smoked bacon, sharp cheddar and two fried eggs on BEC's "signature brioche bun," which seems to be topped with caramelized onions. For this sandwich, you must part with $9.25 ($8.50 plus tax), making it one of the more expensive ways to quash a hangover. What you get in return is a smallish-sized sandwich that's perhaps 3/4 of the girth of a typical bodega-type sandwich on a roll. I should have gone Midtown Lunch-style with a MetroCard for scale, but this is what I get for not downing a coffee beforehand.
Let's start with the good. The brioche bun—although admittedly not my favorite sandwich bread—was nicely soft and fluffy, indicating it was baked sometime in the very recent past. I liked that the bun was also toasted, a rarity in bodega BECs, giving the sandwich a little more smokey flavor. The bacon, too, lent the sandwich more smoked flavor; it was also toothsome and not stringy like some cheaper bacon cuts, though I prefer a solid crunch to my pork products usually.
Unfortunately, the smokiness couldn't save what turned out to be a pretty bland sandwich. The "sharp" cheddar had little discernible bite and the eggs were under-seasoned, crying out for a grind of black pepper or at least a sprinkling of salt. Even the onions on the bun seemed zapped of their oniony essence. I had to use ketchup just to bring a little zing into the picture. The eggs were also overcooked, dashing any dreams of drippy yolks that I was expecting.
They've only been open a few days, to be fair, but with plans stretching back months I was hoping for more finesse when reinventing the BEC wheel. Bacon, egg and cheese sandwiches are meant to be humble—a bit boring, even—so when you claim to be changing up the BEC game, you better back it up with something that won't make me head down the block for the breakfast cart doing the same thing but at a fraction of the cost.
148 8th Avenue, (212) 633-8020; website