Walking into East Side Deli reminded me of my days at Bower’s Bakery. The deceased bakery and deli was my first employer at age 15 (I know I was involved in child labor) and it also taught me the art of sandwiches and pastries. To this day I judge sandwiches with a keen eye. This art includes fresh meats and cheeses cut daily, homemade bread, loads of vegetables and of course the instinct and knowledge of sandwich order, amounts and placement. Many people think that making a sandwich is as simple as placing some turkey in-between two slices of sourdough, but this isn’t a sandwich at all.
East Side Deli understands this art and takes it very seriously. I could tell from the second I walked in and noticed that they serve Boar’s Head deli meats. Boar’s Head is the finest of deli cold cuts, raised without antibiotics or hormones, no nitrate or MSG, fed on grains, and prepared with no artificial ingredients. If this doesn’t get you excited about the sandwiches at East Side, then their Asiago Cheese Roll (hoagie style) will. Their six inch sandwiches made with this choice of bread are clearly over six inches. The bread is soft with a layer of crusty cheese on top.
I brought my sandwich outside, noticing the pristine wrapping job—one piece of tap holding it all in place. Without even a bite, I could tell from their wrap skills that this sandwich would go down in history. I unwrapped my sandwich slowly and there it sat, beautiful and scrumptious: black forest ham, layered on mesquite turkey and Genoa salami. Topped with melted provolone and covered in pickles, onions, pepperoncinis, thin slices of tomatoes and lastly leaf lettuce. The bread was toasted and lightly slathered with mayo, deli mustard, olive oil and balsamic vinaigrette, and a sprinkling of Italian spices.
I sat for a moment; paying respect to what lay in front of me. I thought about the angles and how I would get my mouth around the first bite and then I finally just went for it, tasting the spicy mustard and combination of turkey and ham and then the melted provolone and then the olives with the pepperoncinis. I didn’t want it to end, but suddenly I realized one more bite and I would explode.
I am very happy to say that Hawthorne has brought back one of its missing links: the sub sandwich. I had a good day today. I found my new favorite sub sandwich spot in Portland. I will go back and bring everyone I know. Come to East Side Deli. Try this sandwich, one of their specials or make your own. Eat the whole six inch and buy a Coke in a glass bottle.