Friday, April 24, 2009

Manhattan Deli: A Restaurant Review

While in our capital city of Des Moines a few weeks ago, the person we were talking to mentioned that we should eat lunch at a deli around the corner. Although it is a city, we are still in the Midwest and thus around the corner could mean anywhere from literally around the corner to a mile down the road. This one split the difference by being around the corner and a half dozen blocks down.

The Manhattan Deli was not well endowed with signage and so we actually drove by it once before finding it on the way back. Inside, a long counter graced one side and some tables the other with another room tucked around the corner with more simple tables. Above the counter was a sign with about 100 different options written on it, which is hard to get through in a short time when going into someplace cold like we were. It isn't like Burger King where they have basically served the same ten meals for the last twenty years. Fortunately, we hit it at a pretty busy time and there were ten people or so standing in line before us. I thought anyway.

I doubted myself for a while because there was a large Order Here sign at the far end of the line but the line itself seemed to be moving towards that sign. When in doubt and in a crowd, I do what I always do and just followed the people. Below the counter and behind class were many platters of a very delicious identical looking sandwiches and one platter of another good looking sandwich but none had a name or a price attached to them. Panicked as my turn came closer and closer with still no idea what I wanted, I started listening to those in front of me, presumably locals, to see what they were ordering. About three out of every four were ordering "The Special." So when it came to our turn, I ordered "The Special" thinking it wouldn't be a special if it wasn't good and my wife ordered a Manhattan, which I had no idea what it was at least in the sandwich world, but since it shared the name of the deli, it probably had to be a specialty too.

As it turned out, my sandwich that was the daily special turned out to be one of the sandwiches from the many unlabeled platters under the counter. It was a toasted hoagie piled high with roast beef, some sort of white cheese and fire roasted small green peppers that looked like a jalapeƱo but were mild and sweet tasting and some sort of sauce. It was outstanding. The Manhattan turned out to come from the smaller platter of sandwiches under the counter and was turkey on a Kaiser bun with a sweet mustard sauce and some cheese. Since she couldn't finish it, I had the last two bites and it two was outstanding also.

In the future, I will have the opportunity to be in the area more often and I now plan on stopping there again to try out some more of the many sandwiches listed up on the board. Heck, I may just go with the locals again and just keep ordering the special of the day. Next time however, I do plan to bring my camera with to take a picture because I do love making people drool on their keyboards.


R. Sherman said...

I wish I'd known about that place a year ago when I was in Des Moines for deposition.



sage said...

If I'm ever in Des Moines... I've been there once! But now I'm hungry.

The Real Mother Hen said...

Note to myself: need a full stomach before reading Ed's blog. Dude the other day you talked about the dipping sauce, which got me thinking of my own sauce (different than yours), which got me craving for anchovy, which got me opening a canned of anchovy, which got me questioning, "aw I'm eating anchovy as it is, I must be sick!" :)

Ed Abbey said...

Everyone - hang onto your seats for Monday's post then when I write about going to a Vietmanese restaurant. It was the best place I've eaten all year!

fullfreezer said...

Hmm, next time I'm in Des Moines, I'll have to look it up. Sometimes those little 'hole in the wall' places are the best!

PhilippinesPhil said...

They have take out? In my old age I developed a neurosis for eating in public. Is that weird or what? Divine has gone out and brought home menus from all the restaurants in town for me. I make my selection and she runs out and brings it home for us to enjoy in the privacy of our own dining porch. She's a jewel.

Beau said...

Oh, that sounds good. I'm no food critic... if it eats, I eat it. :) I love the little out-of-the-way places.

Ed Abbey said...

Full Freezer - You should. It is on Ingersoll Avenue.

Phil - I know they do because the phone was ringing off the hook. I have the opposite in my wife. I have to go pick it up and bring it back home.

Beau - As I age, my willingness to eat in more offbeat places has increased. I'm not sure what I will be eating in another thirty years.

Ron said...

I'm with Beau, although I've ended up in scary places that way. :)

"wouldn't be a special if it wasn't good" - hehe, my way of thinking too, not always true.