Occupation: Renewable Energy Forecaster
Location: San Francisco
Favorite Restaurant: Davey Jones Deli
Reviewed Davey Jones Deli: Thursday, March 1, 2012
Every lunch at Davey Jones deli is a minor adventure. Stories from the high seas, the great Midwest, and sub-Saharan Africa abound. Tucked inside of the New Bait Shop Market & Deli, in front of the Sausalito houseboats, the lunchtime cast of characters runs the gambit of pickled old-timers to Marin debutants to folks just waiting for their laundry to finish that last spin cycle.
Of course the biggest surprise is that place even exists at all. This is not the first place I would ever have expected to find organic and locally sourced soups, salads, wraps, and sandwiches. All of the meats are roasted in0house, while the salads, soups and spreads are made from scratch. Just watching all of these ingredients being combined, layered, and deployed into a sandwich or wrap is a show unto itself.
Offering a “Pan-Afro-Latino-Euro-Asian-American” influence, you are bound to find something that you like. Or better yet, something that you had no idea you liked. On many occasions I have ordered a sandwich or wrap and cringed, certain the staff finally lost it, pushed it too far, and just ruined a perfectly good meal by adding some new exotic flavors (edible flowers, chicories, pickled carrots, seasonal fruit, etc.) where they didn’t belong. I am wrong every time and rewarded with a meal that is vibrant, complex, and perfectly balanced. Not too bad of a deal really!
As for my favorites, if it’s a cold day, do the chili or soup and half a sandwich. You will not be lead astray with either the Spicy Brisket Sandwich or the 5 Protein Vegan Wrap. The brisket has a wonderful smokiness. The pepper jack cheese, red onion, jalapeños, roasted red pepper and garlic sauces bring the heat. When available the butternut squash puree can add a little touch of sweetness for a perfect compliment.
Equally amazing is the vegan wrap, with 5 different proteins including rustic red pepper hummus, herb-almond quinoa, sesame-ginger-tahini kale salad, avocado, and fresh almonds. I was amazed that I could even finish one of these, and even more amazed by the amount of energy I had after. Hands down this is the best, most legal stimulant on the market. And if 5 proteins aren’t enough, for a few extra bucks you can add any meat that you want. My recommendation: add the pulled pork with au jus.
In summary: the meats are roasted onsite, the ingredients are top-notch, and the flavors are outrageously complex and refreshing. Grab a sandwich or create a Mediterranean inspired picnic from the deli counter. Beer and wine from the market. Bring that special someone and go for a drive into the headlands or head out to Tennessee Valley. You will not be disappointed. Prices are cheap, although Davey charges extra for stories of the seas and for knife juggling.
Location: San Francisco
Favorite Restaurant: Gamine
Reviewed Davey Jones Deli: Monday, February 20, 2012
Simply put: all sandwiches henceforth will be compared to the standard Davey Jones Deli has set. My gal pal and I drove there on Presidents Day to check it out. While we weren’t expecting much in terms of ambiance, I was surprised that it is literally a small counter within a convenience store of a different name (there’s no “Davey Jones Deli” outside, making it a little confusing to find). There isn’t a single table or even bench to sit on. The large lot outside made parking easy (and it turned out to be our dining room). The convenience store is a plus: many beverages – including alcohol – snacks, etc are available to complement the sandwiches.
The menu is expansive: many vegetarian options, “build your own,” soups, salads, wraps, and classic sandwich options – all in the $10 range. While my friend and I were discussing the various pork options (pulled? a shoulder?), the man behind the counter popped into our conversation to say he’d build us something “off menu” where the main ingredients would be pork, cranberry spread, fennel, almonds, and garlic. We were game and appreciated his friendliness! We also ordered one of the more standard turkey pesto subs. I knew I was in for a treat when I saw the sandwich maker take the turkey off the spit, carve off piping hot slices of the bird, and place them right onto our sandwich. When I think of a deli, I envision cold cut slices portioned out between pieces of wax paper. This is not the case at Davey Jones – everything is fresh, hot, and delicious. No wax paper.
It’s hard to pinpoint what impressed me most, but I think ten years from now, I will still be dreaming about the bread. Every sandwich in the world should be built on top of this roll: it’s soft, sweet, and chewy while still resilient enough to hold the toppings without becoming soggy. I noticed our sandwich maker scooped out the inside to make room for the toppings; I believe this technique helped to avoid one of my biggest pet peeves: when the sandwich ingredients push out the back end. Almost as impressive as the bread are the creative ingredient combinations. I’ve never had pork, cranberry, fennel, and almonds in the same bite (I could live without the almonds next time, they were hidden and a little jarring). There were probably ten sandwich creations on the chalkboard that I had never seen before, but alas, I could only choose one. I will definitely have to go back to make my way through the clever options. I may also have to pick up a few rolls with nothing on them.
The one negative is there’s really nowhere to sit to enjoy the food. Since it was a bit chilly out, we ended up eating in my car. But, I plan on turning this negative into a positive: Davey’s is perfectly located for quick stops on the way to a wine tasting trip, long drive to Tahoe, etc. My friends and I always struggle to find pre-trip subs to the North Bay; problem officially solved.
Occupation: Cooking Teacher and Author
Favorite Restaurant: Bellanico Restaurant and Wine Bar
Reviewed Davey Jones Deli: Saturday, March 3, 2012
The first time I visited Davey Jones Deli, I had a wild time finding it, but a bicyclist around the houseboats in back of the shop pointed me in the right direction. He seemed skeptical, which may have been because it was 6:00 and he knew they closed at 5:00. I arrived to find a friendly cleaning person, but the counter was closed. He suggested I buy some of the Davey Jones prepackaged side dishes and salads from a glass case. I purchased a half-pint of each of the following: Rustic Hummus, Quinoa Salad, Albacore Salad, and Turkey Salad. As I was meeting someone for dinner elsewhere that night, I saved the salads for lunch the next day, which I shared with a friend. In a word, we were disappointed. Everything was under-seasoned. The hummus seemed particularly average and we couldn’t discern why it was called “rustic.” Once we added salt and pepper to the rest of the items, they weren’t bad, but the quinoa was particularly unexciting. It was dry and needed something zing-y to brighten it up. The turkey salad was the most appealing with lots of dark meat and dried cranberries. The albacore salad was nothing special and I couldn’t tell whether it was made from fresh tuna or canned. Perhaps needless to say, I was not excited to return for my official visit.
My husband and I went for our official visit ten days later on a gorgeous Saturday in the late afternoon, planning to take our sandwiches out to the beach for a sunset supper. There was another couple ahead of us at the counter, so we waited a few minutes for the lone employee to take and prepare our order. I was immediately struck by the hotel pans of freshly braised brisket and pulled pork sitting on the counter. My husband ordered the Pork & Boots ($13), a wrap encased in a fresh, supple green tortilla that includes hummus, arugula, lettuce, red onion, bacon (precooked, which the sandwich maker refreshed in the oven), pulled pork, and a few squirts of several different “secret sauces.”
I ordered the Cuban Sandwich ($13). Our guy removed the inside bread from an 8-inch soft po’ boy roll. On one half he spread some secret sauce and layered on some thinly sliced ham and pickle chips. Then he pulled a loaf of pepper jack cheese out of the fridge, shaved off some slices, and placed them over the ham. He popped that into a large countertop toaster oven. Onto the other half, he spread another secret sauce and added some pickled jalapenos (he asked first if I’d like it spicy and I said yes). He pulled some succulent turkey off a thigh bone, which he added to the sandwich, followed by a pile of pulled pork that he shredded from a piece of meat from one of the hotel pans. He shaved off some more pepper jack, covered the pork with it, and popped that half into the oven. When the cheese was melted on both halves, he piled on spinach, arugula, lettuce, and another secret sauce before deftly shutting the sandwich into submission. I asked him to cut each sandwich in half so we could split them, and he accommodated us.
We chatted the entire time he was making our order. He asked where we were from and where we were heading. When I mentioned Stinson Beach for a picnic, he advised that the traffic was very heavy on Highway 1 due to the gorgeous weather, and suggested we head over to Rodeo Beach at Marin Headlands instead. He gave us careful directions, with many helpful landmarks, and suggested it’d be easier for us to park there than Stinson. We took his advice—his directions were perfect and he was right about everything, especially those sandwiches.
Both the sandwich and the wrap were fantastic. The secret sauces add lots of flavor and welcome acid. I hadn’t been looking forward to the green tortilla part of the wrap, but it was the perfect foil for the goodies inside. It was slightly chewy, yet tender and supple and did the perfect job of containing everything. Likewise, the roll on the Cuban was perfect. I hate when a crusty roll interferes with a good sandwich. This one did not—the edges crisped up nicely in the oven, but the bread stayed tender thanks to the sauces and the fact that it steamed a bit in the tight wrapping.
It was probably 30 minutes between the time we walked out of the shop with our sandwiches and the moment we took our first bites. Nothing suffered during the delay. We loved every morsel and the portion sizes were perfect. I’d order both again in a flash. On the other hand, I’m tempted to try some of the other classic sandwich combinations on the chalkboard. Maybe house-roasted turkey with cranberry in one of those green tortillas…
I’m definitely going back for the special sandwiches at Davey Jones Deli. But if I get there after the sandwich counter is closed, I won’t bother with the pre-packaged sides and salads.