FIRST LOOK – Palm Avenue Deli
Sarasota is turning into a deli town!
Dare I say it? After several false starts, Sarasota may actually be turning into a deli town! 🥪
I have deli in my blood. Sometimes it feels like I actually do, but I think you know what I really mean. It’s one of my favorite food groups. If you’d like, I can rattle off a “greatest hits” of my favorite deli foods. But that seems a little unnecessary.
Being raised in Chicago, deli was a BIG deal. Moving to Sarasota over 20 years ago meant going through some deli withdrawal. Deli here was Boars Head. Nothing against our local purveyor of fine meats and cheeses. They have a great product, but it’s not the same thing.
Deli is more than just the FOOD. It’s the feel. It’s the sound. It’s the atmosphere. Sure, the food is super important. But so is the “tone.” Deli is about people. The people who make those delicious, piled-high sandwiches and comforting soups, AND the people who consume them. I’m a consumer!!
My problem when I look at a proper deli menu is that I want it ALL. Every last savory (sometimes sweet) bit of it. I know that’s not practical from a health and budget standpoint. That means decisions must be made. Important decisions.
That will be the dilemma I face today with my maiden trip to the Palm Avenue Deli (1297 N. Palm Ave. (941) 263-3742). This has been such a SLOW rollout that I feel like they’ve been open for years. In fact, it’s only been a little over a month.
After having written about restaurants, food, and dining here for over 20 years, I can appreciate a well-thought-out and executed opening. Some places will not have their act together when they throw open the doors to a hungry public. And that shows. That is NOT the case here.
📝 Restaurants, like other businesses, sometimes have a bad or off day. It happens. It’s OK for us to talk about those things. But it’s also OK to sometimes have a short memory and show a little grace. It can be a very tough business.
Like any self-respecting NY or Chicago deli, they have a nice selection of Dr. Browns acting as a greeter as you walk in the door. 🥤
The only thing missing in this lively, open-style kitchen is a Counterman screaming, “Order Up, LET’S GO!” I do miss that unique part of the deli soundtrack.
I paid my visit on a weekday for lunch in the middle of summer. Slow time, right? Not at this downtown deli. Busy as all get out. A line out the door the entirety of my stay.
📝PT I – The line moves fast! They’re moving folks in and out very efficiently. They have a nice texting system to keep you aware of when it’s your turn to feast!
📝PT II – A super slick serverless ordering system is available tableside for you via QR code. Don’t worry. They also have a traditional server to take your order if you’re more comfortable with that. The web-based order process is easy to use, and your food comes out of that open kitchen very quickly! ⚡
Order in… ✅
Let’s have a look at what came out of that kitchen…
NY/CHI delis are judged on a few things (at least lunch-wise). One is their Matzo Ball Soup. Palm Ave.’s was great. Different than some of the other versions I’ve had. But tasty in its own right. (It’ll really be great in January!)
Yes, that’s a lot of “scoops”! We had the Scoop Platter. We picked Tuna, Egg, and Waldorf Chicken Salad from the five available selections. Nice size portions of each. More than enough for a meal.
These Potato Latkes were thin, crispy, and delicious. Three to an order is more than enough to split between two people. Accompanied by sour cream and apple sauce, these make the perfect side for this…
YES, that is a Corned Beef and Pastrami Combo. 😛 It was big but not unmanageable. ** I did take half home. I do actually have a limit!
The rye that acted as the carrier for this deli delight was sturdy enough to hold the contents but not too dense to weigh this sandwich down. Great bread choice here!
Service. So, my experience with traditional NY/CHI deli service is that it can, at times, be a bit… gruff. It just adds to the charm (I guess). 😁
This is one area where Palm Avenue breaks from the deli mold. My server gave us just the right amount of space and attention. AND a manager touched every table in the restaurant just to ensure that things were going smoothly. Loved that little detail!
THE BOTTOM LINE: This is deli as it should be. The space is buzzing with character. It will transport you to the deli of your past (if you have one). There is a lot to choose from on this menu. You’ll need more than one trip to squeeze it all in. Parking at the Palm Avenue Garage makes for easy downtown access.
One last observation. It seems like Sarasota folks have definite and passionate opinions about this particular type of cuisine. And they should! There are lots of places where you can read them (including here) or listen to them. I would just suggest this: take some time over the next few weeks or months, make your way down to North Palm Avenue, and have a taste for yourself. Then decide…🥪
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