Grow, Cook, Drink: Thin Man Sandwich Shop

Sherri and Dan Leiphart rely on a near-identical palate and ‘adventurous’ combinations of ingredients to compose the Thin Man Sandwich Shop menu.




photo by Laura Petrilla
 

 

Editor’s Note: Each month, Pittsburgh food and drinks writer Hal B. Klein will explore what inspires our region’s chefs, farmers and others who create wonderful things to eat and drink.

 

Sherri Leiphart, co-owner of the Thin Man Sandwich Shop, has an insider secret that will make your next sandwich pop: “Never underestimate the power of lemon juice.”

She and her husband Dan opened their gourmet sandwich shop in the Strip District in February 2013. It was a risky move to leave their jobs as co-executive chefs of Isabela on Grandview to serve goat curry, venison and roasted parsnip sandwiches to a city so proud of its iconic sandwich of lunchmeat topped with French fries.

“We were terrified at the beginning that people wouldn’t be ready for our type of sandwiches,” says Dan. Pittsburgh was ready. In fact, says Sherri, “We found the more adventurous we are, the more popular the sandwich.”



 

What’s the secret behind a Thin Man sandwich? To start, Sherri says, “we have almost an identical palate.”

Still, an identical palate doesn’t mean an identical process. Much like the legendary musical duos of Rodgers and Hammerstein or Timberlake and Timbaland, the couple’s best work comes from balancing each other’s strengths. “We keep each other in check,” says Dan.

Dan is modernist, influenced by Asian flavors and a “recipe guy.” Sherri sticks to classic technique, is influenced by French and Middle Eastern cuisine and is happy to wing it.

Arguments are infrequent but do happen. In the end, “one of us will cave,” says Sherri. “We trust that we’re going to get to the same place,” adds Dan.



 

Inspiration for sandwiches can come any time. Sometimes a sandwich — as with a recent hit, butter chicken — is a deliberate reinvention of an old recipe from Isabela. Inspiration even strikes while they’re watching TV. “We can be sitting on the couch for hours watching TV and then suddenly, ‘What if we used chickpeas?’ And the next thing you know we’re conceptualizing a sandwich,” says Sherri.

Back to that lemon: A hit of acidity is an essential component of a phenomenal sandwich. “Bread covers up a lot of flavors,” Sherri says. Although she and Dan consider bread to be an ingredient, they also know they have to add extra layers of seasoning — such as lemon — to make every other flavor pop.

Here’s one more tidbit from Thin Man: Don’t get too attached to your creations. Although three Signature Thin Man sandwiches live forever, every other option’s time on the menu is fleeting. “We are usually very happy when it comes time to take a sandwich off,” says Sherri. That means there’s room to create a new one.



 

  Thin Man Pimento Cheese with Grilled Scallions and Bibb Lettuce

Makes four sandwiches

Ingredients

  • 8 ounces shredded cheddar cheese
  • 8 ounces cream cheese
  • ½ cup mayonnaise
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1½ teaspoon wholegrain mustard
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne
  • 2½ teaspoons kosher salt
  • 8 ounces pimentos or roasted red peppers
  • 1 tablespoon Frank’s Red Hot sauce
  • 1 tablespoon other hot sauce (habanero if possible)
  • 8 slices thick-cut white bread
  • Grilled or roasted scallions
  • 1 head Bibb lettuce

 

Directions
1. Place all ingredients except for bread, scallions and lettuce into a bowl.
2. Blend contents with electric mixer at low speed until ingredients are just starting to come together. 
3. Increase speed to medium-high and mix for 1 minute.
4. Toast the bread lightly. Spread a thick layer of cheese mixture onto 4 slices of bread.
5. Top with grilled or roasted scallions, Bibb lettuce and other 4 slices.
 

Edit Module

Edit ModuleShow Tags

Hot Reads

City Guide: Terrific Things to Do in the 'Burgh and Beyond

City Guide: Terrific Things to Do in the 'Burgh and Beyond

The towns, neighborhoods, boroughs, main streets and small corners of western Pennsylvania that we call home -- and what we love about them.
Best of the 'Burgh 2015

Best of the 'Burgh 2015

Once again, our editors scour the city for 57 FRESH TAKES on our favorite things about Pittsburgh, including place to "get the boot," witness a nerd fantasy come to life, and snap a selfie with a furry.
Best of the 'Burgh 2015: Readers' Poll

Best of the 'Burgh 2015: Readers' Poll

Burger joints. Bar bands. Radio hosts. Here's the most popular stuff in town.
Brewed in the 'Burgh, the Evolution of Our City's Brewpubs

Brewed in the 'Burgh, the Evolution of Our City's Brewpubs

A long-awaited update to Pennsylvania's beer-selling law prompted change to the region's brewpub scene.
Edit ModuleShow Tags

The 412

The Hilarious Chore James Harrison Does During Workouts

The Hilarious Chore James Harrison Does During Workouts

Most people simply would catch their breath — but not this legendary Steelers linebacker.
Dream Achieved: Meghan Klingenberg is a World Cup Winner

Dream Achieved: Meghan Klingenberg is a World Cup Winner

The Pittsburgh-area native and her teammates are headed to Heinz Field next month.
12 Powerful Pictures of Pittsburgh's Past, Present & Future

12 Powerful Pictures of Pittsburgh's Past, Present & Future

The images are not necessarily iconic, but they're just as revealing of the city's spirit.
Pittsburgh-Area Fireworks: When & Where to Watch Them

Pittsburgh-Area Fireworks: When & Where to Watch Them

You can get your fill of fireworks all weekend long, if you know where and when to look.
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Hot Reads

City Guide: Terrific Things to Do in the 'Burgh and Beyond

City Guide: Terrific Things to Do in the 'Burgh and Beyond

The towns, neighborhoods, boroughs, main streets and small corners of western Pennsylvania that we call home -- and what we love about them.
Best of the 'Burgh 2015

Best of the 'Burgh 2015

Once again, our editors scour the city for 57 FRESH TAKES on our favorite things about Pittsburgh, including place to "get the boot," witness a nerd fantasy come to life, and snap a selfie with a furry.
Best of the 'Burgh 2015: Readers' Poll

Best of the 'Burgh 2015: Readers' Poll

Burger joints. Bar bands. Radio hosts. Here's the most popular stuff in town.
Brewed in the 'Burgh, the Evolution of Our City's Brewpubs

Brewed in the 'Burgh, the Evolution of Our City's Brewpubs

A long-awaited update to Pennsylvania's beer-selling law prompted change to the region's brewpub scene.
PittGirl: A Feminist with Killer Shoes, Hear Her Rawr

PittGirl: A Feminist with Killer Shoes, Hear Her Rawr

PittGirl takes a history lesson in feminism, prompted by her daughter's love of dinosaurs.
Chic Summer Fashion: Get Ready for the Haute Wave

Chic Summer Fashion: Get Ready for the Haute Wave

These summertime looks sourced from Lawrenceville shops will keep you feeling cool and stylish.
Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit Module