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Crown Heights' Taste Buds Serves Prime Cuts For Presidents Day

By Sonja Sharp | February 18, 2013 5:12pm

CROWN HEIGHTS — There's the beef!

Local foodies flocked to Franklin Avenue's tiny Taste Buds sandwich shop Monday for a farmer-to-table tasting with Niman Ranch founder Paul Willis and plenty of his famous meat.

"Their food is unique," Willis said of the shop, which stuffs its sandwiches with his humanely-raised pastrami and bacon. "It’s a neighborhood sandwich shop, a one-of-a-kind place."

Willis would know. Niman Ranch supplies chains like Whole Foods and Chipotle, as well as Zagat-rated restaurants like Porchetta in the East Village, but few shops look or feel quite like Taste Buds.

"[Before Taste Buds] you had to be on a date to go into the restaurants that were on Franklin — I saw a void that needed to be filled for on the go, quick," said co-owner Kevin Phillip. "People are rushing to work, they rush in and get a breakfast sandwich."

The pace was decidedly slower on Monday, as patrons lingered among the plates of pastrami and bacon, egg and cheese. While the six-month-old eatery may be best known for its speedy service and homemade biscuits, the free Presidents Day tasting gave diners a chance to stop and savor the stuff.

"Niman Ranch is a very high-end thing, so it’s a little risky for a little hole in the wall to pick a product like that," said Jan Weber, wife of co-owner Michael Fink and a longtime Niman fan.

"When they decided to do this venture, I said please consider this, because Niman is the real deal and the product is delicious."