Matt Bonner’s Sandwich Hunter : Oct. 26, 2009 pg.2
The Village Deli Results
Cheese and Desserts: N/A
Ratings (out of 5)
Song of the Day: Doomsday - Elvis Perkins
Page 2 - Bloomington, Indiana
I wake up and take the team bus to walk-through at historic Assembly Hall. As we run through plays I can't help but admire my surroundings. The place is spotless. It's literally glistening. The history of the IU program is hanging from the walls and the thousands of arena seats are muscled out of sight by the old school wooden bleachers surrounding the court. I can smell its soul. The odor of sweat and wood make for an olfactory experience that makes you want to dive on the floor for a loose ball. I feel part of something bigger than myself... Even though it's brief and fleeting, I feel part of history. And I feel grateful for all of the players who came before me. Who played before I ever sank a three-pointer. Who opened doors and paved the way. Whose sweat, blood, and tears built up the sport of basketball and shaped it into the great game it is today.
We finish walk-through and ride the bus back to the hotel. I go to my room, change, and make my way back to the lobby to inquire about a ride into town. I decided the best way to find a sandwich spot would be to ask some locals. I would ask some real, live Hoosiers. I find some at the front desk and their recommendation is unanimous: The Village Deli. I thank them for the tip and hop in a taxi. As we pull out of the parking lot, I ask the cabbie the same question. And guess what? Without hesitation, I got the same answer. So, The Village Deli it is!
On our way through town, we pass several really good looking sandwich shops. I start to second guess my decision but the driver assures me The Village Deli is the real deal. We pull up to my destination. I get out of the cab and admire the beauty of my surroundings. Trees of bright orange line the street and lead up to the IU campus. Small, eclectic shops and restaurants fill the city blocks and it refreshes me to see so many businesses thriving outside the grip of the almighty American corporate chain.
The Village Deli "looks" promising: it's menu has several sandwiches that look appetizing, it has the charm and decor of a local staple, and people leaving the restaurant look happy. So I decide to give it a shot. I walk in and the hostess asks me if I'm having breakfast or lunch. I tell her lunch so she gives me a lunch menu and seats me at a table. I thought it odd that a "deli" would serve breakfast so late in the day, but I shrugged it off and looked over the menu.
I decide to go with a sandwich cleverly titled, "A Bird for the Wise". It is a turkey sandwich on toasted wheat bread with lettuce, tomato, mayonnaise and cranberry sauce. Some of my favorite sandwiches are of the Thanksgiving style so I thought this just might be "the one". I ask the waitress for her opinion and she confirms it is one of their most popular sandwiches. I order pasta salad for my side and wait for my order to be brought out. And wait... While waiting, I notice that more people are eating breakfast than lunch. At 12:15 PM on a Friday that is never a good sign. 15 minutes later, my sandwich arrives. Quite a long time to be waiting, by normal sandwich industry standards.
I bite into my sandwich and immediately taste the disappointment. This is not "the sandwich". And to be honest, it is far from it. Quite mediocre, in fact. Call me a sandwich snob, but I found The Village Deli to be quite average. It turns out there was a reason why more people were eating breakfast (side note: the breakfast looked amazing). It was a basic turkey sandwich on wheat with some cranberry sauce added to it. The bread was average, the ingredients were average, and the sauce was average. Nothing to write home about.
I left The Village Deli disappointed. I was disappointed I could not try the other sandwich shops I passed on the way and I was disappointed for being mislead by the Hoosiers' recommendation. But maybe I wasn't deceived by false prophets. Maybe The Village Deli was in fact the best sandwich spot in town. I can't know for sure. But I do know that I did not find the great American sandwich in Bloomington.
But hope lives! That is but the first of many cities I will be searching this season on my quest... And as I sit here on the plane solving Manu's riddles and typing this story I can assure you like everything I am passionate about... I will never give up.