coming soon to a belly near you: the best damn sandwich.

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In part, you can thank John Montagu, 4th Earl of Sandwich, for bringing this bread-enclosed delicacy to your life. His gambling addiction necessitated a way for him to eat one-handed so he would not have to pause his game to fool with separate dishes or even silverware. Consequently, some brilliant cook, to appease a hangry Earl, created a solution we call the sandwich. And now, you can thank Logan Strawderman, Lauren Penrod, and Mollie Randa for bringing that creation to your downtown! Lola Mo’s Delicatessen is opening SATURDAY!

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Brandy and I were invited to the private opening/dress rehearsal this past Saturday to get a much-anticipated preview of the space and the menu. Located on Newman Avenue right behind the new Yellow Button, the deli is airy and bright, reminiscent of a generations-old New York deli, what with its shiny subway tile, black and white decor, old fashioned curved display cases, and super-loud cashier yelling your ticket number (that would be Lauren). Upon arrival, I noticed the selection of crackers, pretzels, and assorted snacks and treats lining the shelves to the left. Another set of shelves holds specialty items like maple syrup, honey (lavender, and orange blossom!), pickles, olives, mustard, capers, vinegar, and these cool fruit spreads designed for pairings with cheese. Several shelves of wine reach from floor to ceiling, next to a fridge full of special-occasion sodas, like Boylan’s Ginger Ale and Le Village Sparkling Blood Orange Juice. Boar’s Head meats and cheeses (for sandwiches or bulk purchases) sit neatly in the glass cooler. The deli also features house-made pastrami (with a 7-day brine, people!), smoked tofu, and assorted rubs created by Logan Strawderman. You can get yourself a fantastic sandwich AND get the makings for a rather classy picnic, too!

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When you order, you can choose from several breads like rye, sourdough, white, or wheat. Side dishes include two kinds of potato salad (Texas or NY), coleslaw, red slaw, and Dirty brand chips. We ordered the Rotisserie Chicken Sandwich, the Cool Kids Club, the Smofu smoked tofu sandwich, and the Pam Stoke, a Buffalo chicken sandwich with slices of bleu cheese.

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While waiting for our perfectly crafted sandwiches, we mingled with all the folks who had come out to share in the excitement, including Lauren’s mom, who told me a few things… For example, ahem, when Lauren was a child, she was obsessed with cashiers. Definitely wanted to grow up and do THAT. She also created a detective agency. She demanded that her family members lose something so that she could use her keen problem-solving skills to crack the case. And, she peddled crafts door to door in their neighborhood, little things she had made herself… selling them for less than her mom had spent on the supplies. Thirty years later, Lauren owns Midtowne Market, Midtowne Bottle Shop, and co-owns Lola Mo’s. Go figure. Anyway, it was a joyful day and an even more joyful sandwich experience. The meat was savory, the lettuce fresh, the bread thick and soft with not a trace of sog… it was the best damn sandwich. I’ll admit, my son is not a big sandwich fan. But he ate the whole thing. THE WHOLE THING.

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Did I mention dessert? Co-owner Mollie Randa, a baking PHENOM,  bakes all the scrumptious desserts tempting you from the display case. Pies, scones, cheesecake, tarts, a thing called chocolate salami, and of course, the black & white cookie.

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Now, you still have to wait a few more days. I’m picturing you, skulking around outside the deli, drool bubbling at the corners of your mouths, like a wild pack of generation X’ers camping out for tickets to a Menudo reunion show. Breathe. You will be okay. The doors will open Saturday, and so will your mouth, and so will your world.
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Copyright © 2012-18 · All Rights Reserved · ilovemyburg.com. Words by Katie Mitchell. Photos by Brandy Somers. This material may not be copied, downloaded, reproduced, or printed without express written consent. Thank you for respecting our intellectual property.

burg bites no. 3: shank’s bakery

Shank’s Bakery causes cravings. I know because I’ve been going there regularly since they opened when my daughter was two and continuing through my second pregnancy—the cardamom-banana bread was something I had to have at least weekly, and then it just became a family tradition for us. The kids and I visit the bakery every Saturday, and in the summer, Tuesdays too, before we head to the Farmers’ Market.  You just can’t go wrong with this place.

On this particular evening, I only got a cup of decaf—Mexican Esmerelda, to be exact, roasted by Lexington Coffee Roasters.

The kids shared three mini cupcakes (the icing is to DIE for) and one Valentine’s Day star-shaped cookie with the word “when” on it. Maybe that’s an inside joke I don’t understand, or maybe they left off the question mark, or maybe it meant, “When you wish upon a star…” At any rate, in the few seconds it took you to read that, the cookie was devoured and but a memory.

 Okay, so here are a few reasons we love Shank’s Bakery:

1. The design. It’s slick, it’s sleek, it’s classic. The white walls and black floors… the one red accent wall with the wood-paneled and granite-topped counter… are clean and minimalistic. Simple. Uncomplicated. A reflection of the foods served there. I love the curve of the old-school display case, which is refrigerated, by the way, because none of their goods contain preservatives. And that looooong wall of floor-to-ceiling windows makes the modest space (fifteen seats) feel expansive.

2. The food. I love being able to get a wholesome dessert. I mean, calories are calories, but at least I know I’m not feeding myself or the kids processed and nutritionally empty foods. If you’re gonna indulge, make it worthwhile. For such a tiny place, they have a wonderful variety of breads, breakfast pastries, desserts, coffee drinks, teas, and smoothies.

Our favorites
* multigrain bread. We usually devour the whole loaf in one day. Cut the thickest slice you can fit in your toaster, toast it, apply a generous layer of butter, and ahhhhhgggggg. <drool>

* Danish. Specifically, blueberry.
* cupcakes. They are a delicious vehicle for the melt-in-your-mouth icing. I’m not kidding.
* snickerdoodles.
* and those adorable 4-layer, 6-inch cakes. Recently I bought one just because it was pretty. I couldn’t resist. It was pretty dang delicious, too.

The bakery is conveniently located on Water Street at the parking deck. Take a moment out of your day to visit them soon. Chances are you’ll see me there, cleaning up the nearly full cup of milk my son knocked over or scraping icing out of my daughter’s hair. And apologizing to all who had to witness it.