8th Street Deli
February 10, 2004
I don’t mean to alarm you, but there is something very spooky about the 8th Street Deli in Glenwood.
Check out these seemingly random observations and see for yourself: 1) It is on 8th Street (hey, you’d be surprised at how far ahead of some of your peers this knowledge can place you), 2) there is seating inside for approximately 8 people, and 3) the food is very good, and we know this because we recently “ate” there.
See what I’m saying? 8/8/Ate. It’s that mystical, numerological and even phonetical recurrence of the eighth number of the 1-10 scale.
Now, I know what you’re thinking: It is actually the 9th number in that scale, IF you start counting at zero. But who starts counting at zero?
A person in my position comes to expect criticism, and I’m sure my latest theory will attract naysayers, but I must forge ahead. I feel like I would be remiss if just wrote about the food and how cool the people were and all that and did not point out these connections to you. That’s my job, you know … to point things out.
Still not convinced? Check this out: Did you realize that “Eighth St.” has exactly eight letters in it? Kinda gives you a chill, doesn’t it? No? Then how about the fact that Chef/owner Lisa An Reichert’s last name also has eight letters? Still not suitably chilled? Then see how you fare against these eight-letter-words: Glenwood, sandwich, to-go menu, pastrami, baguette, breakfast burrito (total of 16 letters, 8X2=16), the daily specials (see previous formula), catering, lemonade (fresh “squeezed”)…I have to stop there, as I’m going to get a perma-chill, so I guess I’ll focus a little bit on the food and such.
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The 8th Street Deli is a very simple sort of arrangement. You got sandwiches, salads, drinks and a daily special. It is just a little bit too big, but not much, to be called a hole-in-the-wall place, which, in a way, is too bad. Everyone knows that so-called holes-in-the-wall can be precious finds in the culinary world, and 8th Street certainly fits that criteria. Maybe they could put up a bigger counter, take a few of the seats out, take their sign down, then they’d be hole-in-the-wall.
Like they need any advice. The 8th Street Deli obviously has a fine following of people who know a good lunch deal when they taste one. We arrived just a little before noon and managed to score a seat, and during the time that we sat there we saw a whole lot of customers come and go. Most had phoned in advance, the rest seemed to know what they wanted already, and almost everyone got called by name. Chef/owner Lisa Ann Reichert and her staff of two dutifully attended to each order, every slice of melted cheese was done with care, every Egg Fu Young special was indeed special. This is “food fast,” which is the opposite of fast food, in the most Zen sense of the concept … good food that tastes like it took hours to prepare, and is only fast because the world sometimes demands that we eat in a hurry. And yes, I know that “food fast,” contains eight letters. I like the way you are beginning to think.
Like I said earlier, there is nothing complicated about the 8th Street Deli. You got your breakfast menu: Egg sandwiches, pork rolls, bacon, muffins, breakfast burrito … all of this stuff in the $2.50-$3.50 range. In other words, what one would routinely pay for a breakfast in a perfect world. For lunch there is a sandwich board with, go figure, sandwich selections on it. No mystery here, just turkey, ham, roast beef, salami, pastrami … you know. And lots of choices for extras, like cheeses and veggies and sauces and stuff, as well as several different breads to choose from. There are even some salads that you can order! It’s…a deli, basically. And it is within that basicness that the 8th Street Deli taps into the archetypal deli and turns simplicity into gold. Really, it does.
Each weekday they have a special that will get you in and out quickly (the specialty styles are, starting at Monday, Mexican, Oriental, Italian, German and Salads) as well as two different soups. We had a taste of the cheddar broccoli, and if that is any indication of the overall soup output (and I see no reason to believe that it would not be), then I am forever envious of the 8th Street regular.
What else makes the simple so divine? The salad dressings are homemade. Yes, homemade…are you counting those letters? They cater. The specials are healthy, tasty and filling. The atmosphere is light and fun and hometown, despite (or maybe because of) the throngs of people wanting their Zen deli fix.
While we ate, I saw something that for me summed up the experience of the 8th Street Deli. Two women who worked at the hair salon just next door came over and each got the special. (They were served on real plates, not to-go plates.) Now, I could see getting burned out on food that was so close and available to me, especially a place, like 8th Street, that has been open for two and a half years, but I watched closely as these women headed back to their place of business with their plates, and let me tell you, there was joy in their faces.
Think about that: The people right next door still eat there. How Zen is that?
Now think about this: “Next door.” Eight letters. Told ya…