My friend Lou walks around the mall almost every day, but he sure didn’t like walking outdoors in the sticky August heat this weekend. We had parked near the Walnut Street Bridge after church to enjoy what little sunshine we had (in between our rainy monsoon season) and walked around to find a good place for lunch.
We found a little place called River Street Deli on River Street Drive by Coolidge Park. It reminded me of someone’s forgotten basement. It wasn’t really decorated and the paint on the walls was chipped and looked 100 years old. A nice man introduced himself as Bruce and I could tell he wasn’t from here. He handed us menus to look over and then thrust a sample of the Stromboli at us to try.
With his abrupt mannerism I was sure he was from New York (and he had the accent to match). He was very friendly. He just wanted us to try something he was proud of. I didn’t blame him – it was good and I forgave him for his peeling walls. The place actually had charm and it was clean. Lou ordered the Roast Beef with boursin cheese and dijon mustard for $8.25 and I ordered Lox and Bagel made with nova salmon, toasted bagel and cream cheese with lettuce, tomato, red onion, and capers $8.95. I figured this man knew his lox and I wanted to try it!
Lou also had gotten an apple pie soda. It looked like dirty water to me, so I just stuck with root beer. After giving Bruce our order and paying another girl at the other side of the counter, we were handed our sodas and we seated ourselves. I took the menu to see what else they had and saw that they offered various items.
They had fresh salads that are prepared daily, soups, roasted portabella, Reuben, liverwurst, corned beef on rye, tomato and cucumber and even a Muffaletta. I wasn’t hungry enough to try that sandwich again (and I didn’t bring a ladder). It seemed that vegetarians and carnivores alike could find something they liked at this place.
I didn’t ask for a glass for my root beer, I just wanted to sit down. It was so sticky and humid outside the ice-cold root beer hit the spot. Lou had to shake up his liquid apple pie, but they opened the bottle for him before we sat down. I think he had to drink a little of the unmixed concoction first to allow for space to swirl it around a bit to mix up the settled ingredients. It came from Pure Soda Works. I couldn’t imagine apple pie with a fizz. Lou said when he had it before; he had poured it over ice cream and made an ‘ala-pie float’.
A boy brought our lunch to the table and my lox was served open-faced with everything else on the side. I didn’t care for the onions, (not that I was hoping to be kissed or anything – my stomach just doesn’t handle them well unless they are cooked). Lou’s roast beef was smothered in the boursin cheese which was creamy. I put my bagel together with the cream cheese, tomato, lettuce and capers. The first bite was so good I felt I had just been kissed by the salmon! The smoked flavor and slightly sweet salmon was perfect with the capers to complement. The only thing that would have made it any better is if it were served on an ‘everything bagel’. You just can’t go wrong with an everything bagel.
Usually when I visit places for my little hobby, I try to go at odd times so that it isn’t crowded. Because Lou and I went after church on the lunch hour - sure enough, I saw someone that I knew. Normally, I love seeing my friends unless I am trying to be inconspicuous and I don’t want them to blow my cover, but Helen saw me. All I needed was for her to holler out “Oh Willie Mae!” I waved to her and smiled but then turned back to Lou to let her know I didn’t have time to be social. I hope she didn’t think I was rude, but I was here on business.
Just then Bruce came by our table to ask us how we liked our lunch. And then …he sat down! I was fine with his friendly ‘pal-sy wal-sy’ nature, but I had to hide my notes in my pocket book without him seeing. He was talking with Lou anyway, but then he noticed that I hadn’t eaten all of my lox and bagel. I couldn’t! It was very filling even if it was delicious. He got onto me and even though he didn’t smile when he teased, I took that as friendly too… I think.
Lou and I both enjoyed our lunch and our Brooklyn friend. If you try them out soon, tell him Willie Mae sent you.
Mon - Fri: 10:30 - 4
Friday Nights: 6:30 Seating
Sat: 10:30 - 5 | Sun: 11 - 5
Rare Roast Beef sandwich on rye