Art for Lunch

Creative--and lovely--bites at Duran European Sandwiches

The open-faced sandwiches at Duran are almost too pretty to eat.

Almost.

These colorful collages are meant to be devoured, with three making an excellent lunch ($10 for 3, including a cup of La Colombe coffee).

The Chicago outpost of the Vienna-based, family-run chain was brought Stateside by Tracy Miller, who fell for the form while visiting Central Europe with her Slovakian husband.

Miller spent time at Duran's home base in Vienna, learning to make spreads, salads and artfully composed sandwiches. In Chicago, she tapped Old Town's La Fournette to bake the airy, buttery bread that serves as a base for over 20 topping combinations.

Curried egg salad ($3) is headily aromatic, flavored by three varieties of curry from The Spice House. Shrimp salad ($3.50) is as subtle as the egg is bold, with plump, sweet shrimp dressed in dill, scallions, celery and a touch of mayonnaise.

The turkey sandwich ($3) is smoky and hearty, with Serbian ajvar (red-pepper purée). One of the more unusual compositions, The Vitamin ($3), is also one of the best, with garlic-scented carrot salad and lemony shredded-apple salad.

We paired ours with an equally lovely drink: orange-blossom oolong ($3), one of a collection of loose-leaf teas from TeaGschwendner.