Viennese open-faced sandwiches make their mark in Chicago

May 8, 2013 (CHICAGO)

But there is another unique specialty from that European city: the open-faced sandwich.

In Denmark, you'd call them smorrebrod , but in Vienna, the open-faced sandwich is an icon, as popular as the hot dog is here.

One Viennese company recently set up its first outlet in the U.S., which happens to be in the West Loop.

They are mini, edible works of art. The open-faced sandwiches at Duran European Sandwiches, on a quiet stretch of Milwaukee Avenue in River West, are exact Austrian replicas.

"I was going to Vienna when I was visiting my husband in Slovakia; he and I would go to visit his family, and we spent a lot of time going through Vienna to Slovakia and that's where we discovered Duran European Sandwiches," said Tracy Miller, who licensed the Duran name for the Chicago store.

So, Miller trained at the flagship store in Europe, learning how to duplicate those same flavor combinations.

"Ukraine, Poland, Russia they are called konapke. I believe in Slovakia they have a different name, and basically it just means 'little bread' or 'little bread with open face," Miller said.

Little bread, yes, but with big flavors. More than a dozen to choose from, including ones with brie cheese or a Greek version with feta; there's meaty roast beef, turkey and salami. But also delicate crab salad or egg salad. Some of the seafood, like the excellent herring version, come with a base spread called puda.

"The puda spread goes in our fish sandwiches, and it is a butter base with cream cheese, garlic and spices."

Not only does it serve as a base, but can also be piped on as a garnish. No matter which ones you choose, they all have a very unique presentation, elevating them well beyond the usual "sandwich."

"Usually they are for special occasions or birthdays or if you're having people over to your house in Eastern Europe, you will have some form of this type of sandwich for guests," Miller said.

Flavors rotate fairly frequently and no matter which flavors you go for, they make a great meal to-go.

Duran European Sandwiches
529 N Milwaukee Ave
Chicago, IL 60642

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