Williamsburg, Brooklyn Sandwich Tour Part 1: Bedford Cheese Shop & Marlow & Sons

Date April 29, 2009

Most New Yorkers claim to be ready for adventure but when someone mentions Brooklyn, the typical response is “what a schlep!”  Enough is enough, it’s time to hop on the L train and discover our neighbor to the east, Williamsburg, Brooklyn. A hood where family establishments stand along side the nouveau.  There’s no better way to read a neighborhood’s pulse than by their sandwiches, the true barometer of people’s desire for value and delicious food.   We’ve seen what comes out of Red Hook and Sunset Park so when my friend Charlie told me his cousin and Williamsburg expert, Andrea, was ready to open my eyes with a full tour of her hood, I gladly accepted.  Part one offers NYCFoodGuy’s take on Bedford Cheese Shop and Marlow & Sons.

Spicy & Mild Chorizo at Bedford Cheese Shop

Spicy & Mild Chorizo at Bedford Cheese Shop

Front of the room fare - Desserts, Scones & Muffins from Marlow & Sons

Front of the room fare - Desserts, Scones & Muffins from Marlow & Sons

Bedford Cheese Shop aka the Hipster Stiff Arm

We came for sandwiches, we left with chorizo and a vendetta against laissez-faire hipsters.  There was one tray of pre-made sandwiches on the counter, bread on the back wall and a ton of meats and cheeses in the display cases.  A perfect recipe for sandwich creation, right? Wrong.  One employee of this bedroom-sized cheese and meat shop didn’t even take the time to unfold his arms from his hooded sweatshirt while telling us, “No, we don’t make sandwiches here.  That’s the only one we have.”  This was news to Andrea, my lovely tour guide for the day, because she has had sandwiches made for her at Bedford Cheese Shop.  We immediately realized we were victims of the hipster stiff arm.


Spicy (red string) & Mild (white string) Chorizo at Bedford Cheese Shop

My friend and all around good guy Charlie, was just as surprised by the confused and annoyed look he received from the counter-girl when he asked her to slice the spicy Spanish chorizo he purchased. God forbid we actually wanted to eat it right then and there.  The hipster stiff arm strikes again!


I will not be returning to Bedford Cheese Shop next time I’m in Williamsburg because I like patronizing stores that appreciate my business. Bedford Cheese Shop is too cool for school but unfortunately for them, NYC Food Guy says class is not in session.

Bedford Cheese Shop
229 Bedford Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11211
Google Map
Phone: 718.599.7588, Fax: 718.599.8644
Monday – Saturday 11-9, Sunday 10-8
Email: [email protected]

View Larger Map

Marlow & Sons Is Not Worth The Trip for Lunch

I haven’t been to the heralded Marlow & Sons for dinner, but after trying several of their early afternoon offerings, I can confidently say it’s not worth trekking to this southwest Williamsburg spot for lunch.   If you happen to be nearby, and want to stop in, your best bet is pizza or something from the dessert counter, but pass on sitting down for brunch.  I can’t speak to the deliciousness of dinner at Marlow & Sons, but all of the press I’ve read has generally been positive.

Marlow & Sons Dining Room Interior

Marlow & Sons Dining Room Interior

Nothing we ate was bad, but nothing really impressed.  Since it was a sandwich tour, we started with the Muffaletta ($11), flimsy focaccia stuffed with mortadella, sopressata, salami, coppa, provolone and an overpowering olive tapenade.  For $11 I would like to see this New Orleans classic stuffed with a little more meat and a little less olive tapenade, which really dominated every bite.

Marlow & Sons Muffaletta ($11) was overwhelmed by olive tapenade

Marlow & Sons Muffaletta ($11) was overwhelmed by olive tapenade

Chorizo with potatoes and sunny side eggs ($12) was recommended by our waiter and while it was tasty, the tomato-based sauce didn’t allow the chorizo’s spice to shine.  The best bites of this dish are when you pile a little bit of everything on the buttered and toasted slices of bread.

Chorizo & Eggs ($12) lacked the spice I was hoping for

Chorizo & Eggs ($12) lacked the spice I was hoping for

The pizza with sopressata ($4.25) was easily my favorite dish of the meal.  The flavor was definitely homemade, from the airy crust to the sweet sauce, but the slightly sharp sections of burnt cheese were the best part.

Pizza with Sopresatta ($4.25) is best where the cheese is burnt

Pizza with Sopressata ($4.25) is best where the cheese is burnt

Marlow & Sons front room, which turns into a dining area in the evening, is populated by a few others pizzas, sold by the slice…

Marlow & Sons Front Room Fare - Pizza by the slice ($4.25 each)

Marlow & Sons Front Room Fare - Pizza by the slice ($4.25 each)

…a nice selection of other sandwiches…

Front of the room fare - Sandwiches at Marlow & Sons

Front of the room fare - Sandwiches at Marlow & Sons

…desserts including attractive white cake, milk chocolate frosted cupcakes

Front of the room fare - Milk Chocolate Frosted Cupcakes from Marlow & Sons

Front of the room fare - Milk Chocolate Frosted Cupcakes from Marlow & Sons

…other cupcakes, scones and muffins…

Front of the room fare - Cupcakes, Muffins & Scones at Marlow & Sons

Front of the room fare - Cupcakes, Muffins & Scones at Marlow & Sons

and a chocolate chip cookie featuring discs of bittersweet chocolate ensconsed in a buttery, slightly salty dough.  It was a tasty cookie, but nothing to write home about.

Front of the room fare - Chocolate Chip Cookie from Marlow & Sons

Front of the room fare - Chocolate Chip Cookie from Marlow & Sons

Marlow & Sons
81 Broadway
Williamsburg, Brooklyn 11211  Google Map
Phone: (718) 384-1441
Fax: (718) 486-0165
E-mail: [email protected]

View Larger Map

28 Responses to “Williamsburg, Brooklyn Sandwich Tour Part 1: Bedford Cheese Shop & Marlow & Sons”

  1. Phil said:

    Food Guy – all-around solid review, as per the norm. I really like what you’re doing with the google map screen shot, it’s extremely helpful. Keep on keepin on!


  2. Blaine said:

    I too like the google map. There’s a decent enough sandwich place down the street on the south side. Maybe south second (?) Bedford on the east side of the street, but I’ll be the first to admit that Williamsburg eateries are a lot of sound and fury signifying nothing.

    I hear, though, that there is a decent Japanese place on Grand St. somewhere, and a new Greek place that is pretty decent/cheap. Any readers know where these are? Any Food Guys willing to give it a whirl?

    My condolences on the stiff arm. I feel as though I speak for my neighborhood that would otherwise never apologize whatsoever. Jerks.

  3. Phil-ate said:

    i would be thrilled to get stiff-armed!

  4. FN said:

    Lol, “hipster stiff-arm” – you should copyright that, I love it!

  5. Matt said:

    Wow, this stuff looks absolutely delicious. I really need to get to Brooklyn more often. A lot of the food there just seems to have more “love”.

  6. debbie said:

    As a (reluctant) Wburg resident, I couldn’t agree more about the ridiculous service at BCS. The owner/staff really seem to think that all they’re really there to do is talk about cheese (to each other, mostly) and show off their knowledge. Couldn’t care less about treating their customers well, as far as I’ve seen.

    Never been to Marlow & Sons for lunch, though, so I can’t comment on that part…

  7. ephraim said:

    completely agreed about bedford cheese shop. i was given a gift certificate to there by a well meaning friend, and they gave me such a cold shoulder that i hesitate to go back and use the remaining $7 left on it.

  8. moe said:


    You make me very hungry! I am so sorry to hear about Marlow & Sons because I have heard so many good things about them. That kind of customer service with those high prices, boy that’s bad.

    Anyway, you need your own restaurant show, what you are doing for us is a great idea.


  9. Charlie said:

    it should be noted that while the hipsters (clearly not people) at bedford cheese shop suck, the chorizo was pretty awesome.

  10. elena said:

    Great post. It’s high time for me to do some serious eating Williamsburg…my native ‘hood.

  11. Ulla said:

    I almost feel sorry for hipsters because no one likes them, and they are so sullen.
    Maybe they want to be adopted!

    I can not believe you gave it all not that good review(that is why I love this blog) all the food critics have been giving them all this credit for being the best restaurant in the universe.

    I am still laughing about your term for hipster, you need to copyright that!:)

    Are you on twitter? I am twittering now:)

  12. johnsonsrus said:

    great site redesign. definitely not as stupid as before, but still pretty stupid

  13. franklin said:

    awesome review, and nice re-design of the site food guy!

  14. Phil said:

    i can’t lie, i like the old layout better. is the reason behind the redesign to make it more attractive to potential advertisers? i notice you’ve gotten some ads linked up. congratulations nonetheless.

  15. Julia said:

    Unfortunately, Food guy, you really dropped the ball on this one. As a longtime regular of Bedford Cheese Shop (since it was stationed across the street in the Mini Mall!), I know (as all regulars do) that no, it is not a deli. Also, you’re passe diagnosis of “Brooklyn? What a schlep!” is old news. Welcome to 2009, Food dude. And hipster-stiff arm? Puh-lease. Maybe they could smell pompus on your breath. Way to throw hipster around like your some aging New York Times fogey.

    They don’t make sandwiches to order. Period. Maybe if you’re a loyal regular and its a slow day. I hate to say that Andrea was either mistaken or lying when she said they had done it for her. Part of Cheese Shop’s charm is the instruction they bestow on customers as to how properly use their cheese AT HOME. Again, it ain’t a bodega.

    So in short, stay out of Williamsburg, we don’t want you here. Maybe you won’t be visiting two of my favorite neighborhoods spots again, but their patrons (myself included), surely won’t be visiting your site again.

    Goodbye food guy.

  16. The NYC Food Guy said:


    Where did I go wrong? You have some strong sentiments about Williamsburg and I’m happy to hear them. The intent of my posts is never to offend, merely report on my experiences exactly how they unfold. I realize I may have stepped on your toes with my comments but that was unintentional and pomposity is the least likely characteristic I would use to describe myself. If there was any pomposity it was from the other side of the counter, directed at me rather unfairly. As a customer of any business (with the exception of Shopsin’s), I expect a certain level of congeniality and patience that I did not receive in the least at Bedford Cheese Shop, not when I walked through the door wearing an excited smile and not when I left defeated and mildly insulted.

    I will continue to go to Williamsburg and other places in Brooklyn not so I can attack (you will notice 99% of my reviews are positive) but to explore new, exciting food adventures and hopefully pass them on to anyone who wants to hear. As you will see in the other parts of my Williamsburg Sandwich tour, my experiences were wonderful. I met a lot of great people and had some delicious sandwiches. I hope you’re not as seriously peeved as you sounded in your comment because you’re obviously someone who is passionate, and I’m guessing passionate about food. It would be a crime for you to never read my site again because truly, my intentions are pure; spreading the word about great food, nothing more, nothing less.

    In all honesty, I’m really glad to hear from you. It’s people like you whose passionate opinions I love to see on my website. It would be sad to lose someone like you who could create meaningful dialogue. I hope you’ll reconsider your declaration.

    Thanks. Look forward to hearing back,

  17. ilana said:

    hi –
    while, yes, most of your posts are positive, it seems to be that said cheese shop recieved a hard knock and it was based, not on the food, but on a presumed attitude. to julia’s point, you and the readers on your blog who have felt affronted by a “hipster stiff arm” are suffering from run of the mill inferiority complex. sad but true. we should strive to support small businesses and reward for a seriously awesome food (cheese and otherwise) selection at the shop and avoid talking about one’s personal insecurities that bubbled up after a SINGLE visit. most critics worth reading wait until the 3rd or 4th visit to put forth such a strong negative opinion. small mindedness will get us nowhere. good luck to you!

  18. Williamsburg, Brooklyn Sandwich Tour Part 2: The Mozzarella Lady & Graham Avenue Meat & Deli | NYC Food Guy said:

    […] eliciting some fiery backlash in the comments section of Part 1 of the Williamsburg Sandwich Tour, it’s on to Part 2 and hopefully some love similar to the kind I received from the two family […]

  19. Andrea said:

    Julia, what does pompous smell like? Is it similar to the smell of being called out anonymously on the interweb?

    Its one thing to be called a liar by my husband, family, friends, co-workers, acquaintance, and my mailman, but an anonymous stranger? That I cannot stand for.

    Lets pretend for a second that you are the true Bedford Cheese Shop aficionado, and we are mere peasants who go around asking for sandwiches everywhere we go. Be it nail salons, Home Depot, or, ya know… PLACES WITH CHEESE, MEAT and BREAD. Our actual problem with our experience had little to do with their refusal to combine the aforementioned ingredients into something resembling a sandwich, it was the more and more prevalent Williamsburg attitude of people in service acting like they are better than the customer. If they had simply and politely told us that they didnt make sandwiches, we would have just said ok, smiled, sprinkled some fairy dust on the floor, and went on our merry way. But they didn’t. They were full blown assholes, and assholes are way worse than mistaken people.

    you seem a bit cranky about someone else’s personal experience.

    I have had sandwiches made there. I have witnesses.

    Ok, I have no witnesses. But I only lie to friends and family. And you are no friend of mine.

  20. michele said:

    I appreciate your reply. It is very easy for people to get defensive and start attacking people who have different opinions about their favorite places these days, being that the most defensive people are the ones who are mostly in the wrong. It is painfully obvious how low customer service has gone in NYC. Whether it is in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, SI or da Bronx, people have that attitude of “You are the customer, so you must serve ME”. Well, I am of the mind that if I go somewhere, anywhere, where I pay for a product or service, people are going to serve ME. If you treat me like crap when I walk into your establishment, you will not get my business and I will not recommend you to anyone I know. I don’t care if you have the freshest milk from rare pink Shangri-la unicorns – treat me with respect and I will be a repeat customer.

  21. Alastor said:

    The Spicy Sopressata Sandwich is what I usually get here to go for lunch, and it is delicious!!! All the pizza isd also great, and I eat it cold!

    In the morning I usually get a jam and butter biscuit, or a bacon egg and cheese. My favorite is def the Jam and Butter biscuit. With a big cup of coffee, delicious!!

  22. The NYC Food Guy said:

    You get all those things at Marlow right?

  23. Monique said:

    Oh No! The bedford Cheese shop! I have heard a million great things about this place but one bad review will definitely change my mind. Im all about supporting the local business but only if its business with a smile. What a shame

  24. Carol said:

    looks amazing! How about catering the next family event from here!!

  25. Billy said:

    As a Williamsburg resident, I can confirm that Bedford Cheese Shop is a bunch of bullshit. Actually, the majority of the Bedford Ave. area eateries are a bunch of bullshit. Bedford Ave. is the Haight-Ashbury of today and, like H-A, I fully expect to see a United Colors of Benetton and a Chipotle there any day now. However, there are a couple of great places on Grand Ave. between Havemeyer and Bedford – Snacky, Dokebi, Caracas Arepa Bar, and Walter Foods are some that come to mind. These are not really sandwich spots, though. They’re more sit-down type places. I would probably stick with the Graham Ave area if you’re looking for great food in this neighborhood. Have you tried Il Passatore Trattoria? Oh, the Italian market on Lorimer and Skillman makes a pretty serious sandwich.

  26. Matt said:

    Go to the Bedford Cheese shop to pick up exotic cheese & charcuterie, which they have in spades and are knowledgable about, and if you’re there for that purpose, it’s fantastic. Gotten some great recommendations there, and will go back given the slightest chance.
    It’s not a damn sandwich shop.
    It’s like going to the auto parts store and asking them to change your carburetor.
    “I mean, they have all the tools and parts, right? I’ve never been so insulted!”

  27. Danielle said:

    Maybe the Bedford Cheese Shop has lifted its game in the past 2 years. As a tourist, not a local, I went in with 2 friends and the staff were literally falling over themselves to serve us. We were in the store for 20 minutes and in that time sampled about 10 different cheeses and 6 cured meats, including the amazing duck salami. As Matt above notes, it’s a cheese shop not a deli. They also have unpasteurised cheeses and french butter there which is amazing. The guy who served us was very knowledgeable and passionate about what he was doing which was brilliant.

  28. The NYC Food Guy said:


    Glad to hear you had a better experience than I did. Everyone I’ve spoken to about Bedford Cheese since my outing has only positive things to say so it seems like my somewhat rude encounter was an anomaly. Happy to hear it. Did you eat anywhere else in the area? Where did you visit from? Thanks for the comment.

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