This week on 5 Things™, we delve into the surprising success of a new side, the never-ending fluctuations of our deli’s interior, the timely return of a classic piece of NWS swag (and what NWS swag can do for you), some comings-and-goings, and previews of what’s to come from our Sandwich Lab and our shop in-general.
Kale caesar salad.
You likely already have an inkling that NWS is good at smoking fish and other meats. You probably also know that we’ve garnered some acclaim for our sandwiches. You might even know that we have a smartly curated selection of olives and local cheeses. You might not know that we regularly introduce new side options to our menu. While some of them hide behind the sandwich line and signs on our menu board, we’ve begun displaying others in the deli case, next to our smoked meat selection.
It has paid off. Not only do our sides taste great, they are also aesthetically pleasing. Being able to see them (and buy them in whatever weight quantity you choose) helps sell them—meaning you’ll continue to see them. To that end, we’ll continue stocking the meat case with our tried-and-true and latest sides, as well as pasties and pre-sliced/pre-packaged meats.
This week we tested a roasted kale caesar salad, and sold it all within the day. Which pleases me, because the salad is good, and I want it to stick around. Don’t believe me? Try it.
Sass aside, if you ask, you can definitely try it.
A shortened wall.
If you’ve been following us for the last half-decade, you’ll have an idea what I mean when I say the shop is always in flux. For example, when I started at NWS, our workspace was literally half the size it is now, and the line ran the opposite direction. Working at NWS is at times reminiscent of a game of Tetris or Jenga—constant rotation and reconfiguration and treacherous pulling and replacing.
The wall between our seating area and the sandwich line is an important boundary. Watching us work really isn’t the best use of anyone’s time—many of us are self-conscious individuals, who work less efficiently when observed, and you don’t really want to be watched while you eat, do you?
Joking aside, the barrier does have one glaring limitation—it is very tall. When it was first installed, I called it the “Wilson Wall.”
So Oneida, ahead of schedule (thank your local Oneida employee for their steadfast work immediately), cut down a segment of the wall and moved the counter top down with it. This means patrons and staff under 5’7″ will finally be able to make eye contact and just generally communicate when handing out and picking up orders.
As with many small changes we make to our workspace, the benefits may not be immediately obvious—force of habit has made me place orders on the higher segment of counter even with the lowered counter in place—but over the Summer, this will undoubtedly result in a smoother interface when picking up your food.
With the impending arrival of beer and wine, there is more reconfiguration to come. Nothing too world shattering, though you might notice some different stainless steel and glass making its way into the shop over the next month or so.
Kenspeckle Letterpress shirts went to print.
These shirts are great. They showcase the brilliant, meticulous, and clever work of local printmaking legend Rick Allen, whose studio (the aforementioned Kenspeckle Letterpress) is located on the second floor of the DeWitt-Seitz Marketplace, and for whose dedication to the Split-finger Fastball variant of the Clubhaus sandwich we are forever grateful.
On Thursday, our friends at On The Limit, let us know that they had begun printing the shirts. That means that, soon enough, these shirts will be available in all sizes, on softer, more breathable cotton.
The Wallaby leaves us.
Our first-ever avocado sandwich, which came to us via our annual Sandwich Lab, is entering its last weekend.
If you haven’t yet tried this avocado, lemon pepper, balsamic, locally-sourced ramps, and tomato sandwich, on our hausmade Prince Myshkin Rye, this weekend is your last chance. If you’re feeling a bit more carnivorous, try it with crispy smoked pancetta.
When the Wallaby leaves us, another Sandwich Lab special takes its place: The Sebu-Chan.
The name comes from a nickname for its creator, Sebastian, and the sandwich is a playful variation on the classic salmon & cream cheese sandwich.
The Sebu-Chan—gravlax, scallion cream cheese, tomato, cucumber, onion, lettuce, cilantro and sriracha on a hausmade ciabatta—will be available Monday, June 3rd through Sunday, June 30th.
A few things I’m looking forward to at NWS.
I tried to fit a few different Things™ in this slot, but came up short each time. So, in lieu of anything better, here’s a short list of things that I’m looking forward to in my own personal life at Northern Waters Smokehaus, that might also be interesting to you:
- The Cookbook. It’s happening, and though the public will have to wait some time before it is in their hands, a good deal of my near future is set to be entangled with the text.
- Another Hemlock Preserve event. The first time I was involved with a Smokehaus event at Hemlock Preserve—the charming barn on the edge of Jay Cooke State Park in Esko, MN—I played music for five hours, essentially nonstop. It was a strange feat that I don’t know I could repeat. I’m not sure how involved I will be with the event, but I will certainly have some words to write about it as it draws nearer. The event is still in development, but based on previous experience, it will happen toward the end of Summer, feature an awesome menu, good music, and an optional party bus to get to and from the location.
- Grilling NWS brats & sausages. Our Maple Breakfast Sausage is my favorite sausage, period, but that’s not what I’m talking about. I’m not sure whether the Beer Brat (made with Grain Belt Premium), Apple Brat or Classic German Brat is my top choice for the grill, but I will say that white onion (raw, grilled, or sautéed), NWS Kimchi and Sauerkraut are great toppings respectively. We’ve got Jalapeño Bacon Brats and Italian Sausage too, for those seeking a bit more bite in their brat. Tucked away in a corner, these products often go unnoticed. The time to grill is nigh. Don’t sleep on these sausages.
- Honorable mention to our Smoked Ribs. They’re back in stock, available weekly as our Monday special, and great for any BYO grilling events or potlucks. Or just as any ol’ meal. $10.99/lb in 2 lb racks or half-racks for these beauties is a steal!
- Northern Waters Catering. Though we’ve been at the catering business quite a while, this year we’ve really decided to get our act together, putting in a lot of creative work, developing an extensive menu that showcases our best abilities and depth, making an Instagram profile specifically for our catering department, and putting Hannah’s capable hands in charge of the operation.
I love catering events because they showcase different shades of NWS not found in the deli, both in terms of food served and the service offered. It’s a bit more refined, and less of a grind. It’s a breath of fresh air, reminiscent of a childhood field trip, traveling to an offsite location and not making six to eight sandwiches per ten minute increment. And the catering pay rate is great for the staff. My Nintendo Switch isn’t paying for its own games, so I am into that.
- More Sandwich Lab specials. With fun official and working titles like Jacob’s Lake Trout Situation, The Perfect Fall Sandwich, and The Fish Stick, they’ve clearly got a lot to offer the imagination, and it’ll be a satisfying mystery to resolve once you can finally taste them. And honestly, the ads our marketing team has been creating for them get more fun every month.
Well, I think I’ve said quite enough. Happy Friday, or whichever day you might be reading this.