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SANDWICH LAB: THE WAGNER

In the delicatessen scene, never shaking up your sandwich menu is considered especially heinous. At Northern Waters Smokehaus, the dedicated deli employees who innovate on sandwich menu are members of an elite squad known as the Sandwich Lab. These are their stories:


The Wagner is not about subtlety.

The Wagner is about climbing an El Capitan of flavor without ropes or safety gear.

It starts with a hero roll—I’m talking about bread here, but imagine tuck-and-rolling out of a speeding car hurtling toward the cliff’s edge—dressed with mayo and mustard, laden with your choice of smoked turkey or pastrami (heavy as the burden of a life of adventure), decorated with sweet & sour quick pickles, cilantro and sriracha. It ends with you, satisfied, wondering when you can eat another.

The Wagner is now available in our deli and for delivery for $10.75 + tax, and gets you two stamps on your sandwich card. We’ll be making it for a month, then pretending we forgot it ever happened, so don’t miss your chance. Take your palate on a wild ride with the Valkyries and order The Wagner.


What is Sandwich Lab?
At Northern Waters Smokehaus, our work is playing with food. That means sometimes, in the line of duty, we stumble upon an amazing combination of ingredients that evolves over several shift-meals into a noteworthy new sandwich. Other times we uncover a more efficient way to build a sandwich, or we swap an ingredient on a current menu item.

Sandwich Lab is an annual gathering of our staff to refine our sandwich-line skills, to come to agreement on any controversies, and—the best part—to introduce our pet sandwiches to the greater Smokehaus community.

Notable Sandwich Lab findings from previous years include the Cedars’s Secret, the Purple Range, the Phoebe, and the Pork Lion.

Last year’s Sandwich Lab had so many good sandwiches that we couldn’t decide on just one or two to add to the menu, so we decided to give them all a chance to shine, as month-long specials.

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Introducing the Adisalad

 

 

It’s a new year, and we’ve added a new salad to the menu—the Adisalad.

Named after its creator, and pronounced very closely to “add a salad,” this salad completes our trifecta of salads, rounding out the trio in several ways. The Adisalad is a size perfectly positioned between the side salad-sized Ensaladita and the takes-me-two-sittings-to-finish NWS Salad. Depending on how you choose your own salad adventure, it can also be gluten-free and vegan-friendly without any omissions, additions, or substitutions.

The Adisalad is composed of a bed of mixed greens and thinly-sliced cabbage, topped with a pickled vegetable medley, chopped Marcona almonds, fresh sliced cucumber, and your choice of Hausmade kimchi or sauerkraut. This salad needs no dressing, as the moisture from the kimchi/kraut and pickled vegetables combines with the oil from the almonds to create a complex incidental dressing. If you want to have the salad gluten-free and vegan, opt for sauerkraut over kimchi. Personally, I prefer the sauerkraut for its more pronounced flavor, but it is great both ways: with kimchi you get some extra vegetables and spice-heat.

Adison first threw together this salad to give his body some honest-to-goodness fuel. Not only is it an energizing blend of ingredients, but eating it feels like you’ve done something kind for yourself, without sacrificing flavor. Adison felt the salad would highlight the pickling and fermentation processes we have cultivated, so he brought it to our annual Sandwich Lab.

When I have the Adisalad, I like to add pickled ginger for extra spicy-sweetness, and quick pickles if they’re looking especially slippery.

The Adisalad is available in our deli & via delivery for $10+tax and is a delicious pick-me-up at any time of the day.

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5 Things That Happened This Week at NWS

The Breakfast Club. 

On Monday, we launched our Sandwich Lab campaign.

The Breakfast Club is a fresh new take on the Clubhaus, and the first of nine monthlong specials we’ll be running this year. Visit the event page for more details.

The Adisalad.

For those of you resolving to eat healthier this year, we’re with you. So we’re adding a new salad to our menu: The Adisalad. Named after Adison, it’s creator, and inevitably a confusing pun, this salad is something I look forward to every shift. Yes, your dear blogging friend is hooked. We’re in the process of training our staff to make it, but the official launch will be soon. Allow these unedited photos tide you over.

More box liners.


I am full of regret for forgetting to snap a few photos, but on Monday we had an awesome time moving nine(-ish?) boxes of box liners. Each box of liners is about 6′ x 4′ x 3′ (source: my subjective memory) so they are obviously quite maneuverable and really more of a job for one person, but we all chipped in anyway. Here’s a throwback photo of the room in which we store them. It is not so full anymore.

This sky over the canal. 

Sometimes the Sun comes out and makes early winter mornings not so bleak.

 

Kimchi. 

Here’s a visual of the size of a kimchi batch. This pile is just about finished. It will ferment for a week before it is packaged. The Adisalad features our kimchi and sauerkraut.

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5 Things That Happened at NWS

Days in the deli have slowed down, but life at the Smokehaus have not been boring.

  1. We’re making a whole lot of food! This week our production team roasted 500 lbs of porketta, prepared 120 each of pepperoni and saucisson sec for curing, and started 480 lbs of ham on a 5-7 day brine cycle. A great deal of that meat already has a home among our mail order queue, and what’s left of it will likely fly off our shelves by the end of December’s month-long grocery rush in the shop. Pigs fly at Northern Waters Smokehaus.
  2. Sandwich Lab! I already leaked one Sandwich Lab secret here, so I’m going to hold tight to the juicier details, but once all of the voting, calculating and deliberating is complete, y’all may be in for some fantastically mouthwatering experiences at our little deli.
  3. Our Winter catalog is complete! I had previously lied and referred to it as a Fall/Winter catalog and a Fall catalog. Whoops. Regardless, it is out and it looks great. Watching the design and marketing teams develop it was really cool. So much care and attention to detail went into presenting our awesome food and history to you. I am super proud of my coworkers. NWS cookbook, here we come! Catalogs are available upon request.
  4. Hidden Falls cheese is in season! Hidden Falls is a creamy sheep’s and cow’s milk cheese from Shepherd’s Way Farms in Nerstrand, MN. It has citrus and wildflower qualities present in its flavor, and notes of woodsy mushrooms. Accompany it with honey and seasonal fruit, or pair it with our salumi, but whatever you do, do it quickly. Hidden Falls is only available between October and December.
  5. It’s our birthday month! Northern Waters Smokehaus is a Scorpio. Actually, our birthday might even be today. I’m like 90% certain it falls between November 8th and 12th. I really need to step up my research game. We have had a pretty great year as a company. We’ve had a segment filmed for the Travel Channel, we have an awesome staff, the books show growth from last year, we released our first official product catalog, we threw a sweet party/afterparty combo in September, and we have felt a ton of love from our community, our regulars, the tourists (food- and otherwise), and our online network. Eric, Lynn  and the rest of us are so darned proud of this 20-year old deli and we are so darned proud of them. Thank you, reader, customer, friend, for supporting this business.

That last sentence was a better closer than this one is.

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A Practical Guide to Northern Waters Smokehaus: Add-ons, part 1

Sandwiches, for us, are serious business. Each sandwich on our menu has hours of R&D associated with it, and there is no true B.Y.O. option on our menu. Preferences aside, let’s just say each sandwich is the perfect version of itself.

But perfection is an illusion. What use is the platonic ideal Pork Loin D-Luxx when your palate yearns to transcend? I’ll rephrase: Our sandwiches are really good, but when it comes to flavor, there is always room for strategic enhancement. Here are some tried-and-true NWS sandwich add-ons that have fun names.

Jean Jacket Cilantro and sriracha. The name comes from a dream about a gorilla wearing a denim coat. The flavor is bright and spicy. This will keep you warm on a crisp fall day. This is the classic Smokehaus add-on: So good, it is already on several of our sandwiches. Try it on the Cajun Finn, Cold Turkey, or Gorilla.

Woolrich — Basil and sriracha. Not just for those with cilantro aversion. This is an even brighter take on the Jean Jacket. Try it on a Salami Dewitt-Seitzer, MN Pulled Pork (Friday’s special), or anywhere Jean Jackets are good. My second-favorite part of this add-on (after the taste) is how it relates to the previous and following options.

The Full Bemidji — Cilantro, basil and sriracha. A Jean Jacket over a Woolrich. For those who want to fully awaken their sinuses while enjoying their sandwich. This goes on most sandwiches I make for myself. It’s important to layer in these Winter months. Try it on a Northern Bagel or a Purple Range.

Honey — No fancy name for this one. Ask for honey on your Hedonist or Gorilla. If we have it on the line, you shall have it on your sandwich. Honey compliments the sweetness of our ham and mustard quite well.

Split-Finger — Originating from a modification to the Clubhaus (formerly the Thursday special, now a full-time menu item) called the Split-Finger Fastball. If you order a sandwich “split-finger,” we’ll substitute a healthy swipe of crayo on one slice of bread, mayo on the other, and Jean Jacket for the standard condiments. Clubhauses and D-Luxxes revel in this substitution.

The Bret –– There’s no button in our P.O.S. that says “The Bret,” and neither Bret nor myself probably came up with this add-on, though I can’t specifically remember when it entered my life. Once, I told my friend Bret he should have his Cajun Finn with a Jean Jacket and pickled ginger, and afterward he told me it was the best sandwich he has ever had and orders it that way every time he comes to the Smokehaus, so I have decided to name a Cajun Finn with a Jean Jacket and pickled ginger “The Bret,” and you should definitely try it.

And now for something totally new:

The Wet-suit — Quick pickles and cheddar cheese. Slippery wet sweet and tangy quick pickle slices and a sharp cheddar barrier. This is the most recent sandwich slang we are trying to introduce to the world. In fact, the first time I heard about it was this previous Tuesday at our annual Sandwich Lab. Try this on a Pork Loin D-Luxx or a Clubhaus.

Conclusions are challenging, so I’ll keep it simple and conclude that you should try these additions out, if they sound good to you. I am so hungry.

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“5” Things

Welcome back. We’re gathered here to address some things. There are more than five this week, since I realized halfway into a drive to Chicago that I hadn’t yet drafted the 5 Things™ post last Friday.

  1. Fall hours! For those who have not yet stopped in for a late-evening sandwich to be met with closed doors, we have moved to our Winter hours: 10am-8pm Monday through Saturday, still 10am-6pm Sunday.
  2. Our “library” is up and running! What is more important: Knowledge or Imagination? I don’t have a conclusive answer, but here at Northern Waters Smokehaus we be
    lieve in a combination of both. Our recipes and business practices are rooted in tradition, but cultivated by that special something that only we, as individuals, can bring to the table. I’m supposed to be talking about a bookshelf here. Bookshelves are exciting enough, easy enough to understand their purpose, but the worlds they can contain are infinite and wonderful and complicated and complex. I think, in a way, that Northern Waters Smokehaus is like a well-stocked bookcase. I’m losing track of this metaphor. Here are some photographs.

  3. Coach visited us! John, aka Coach, a gosh-darn Smokehaus legend, came into town for a friend’s wedding, and we had the joy of serving him and his our Hot Pastrami special. In addition to years of dedicated service and top-notch joking, Coach was also an early tester of our mail order Sandwich Kit initiative after his time at NWS. Thanks for being you, Coach.
  4. We placed an order for 3,000 boxes! Mail Order season is a wild world, and it is almost upon us. To the uninitiated, three thousand boxes likely sounds like a lot. It turns out, the uninitiated are absolutely correct, as it doesn’t take a genius to recognize the masochism to which we subject ourselves each winter. Our boxes come from All Boxes Direct, and are additionally packaged with recycled denim insulation (we add a Jean Jacket to every order).
  5. The Hygge Collection is available! I took a semester of Norwegian in college, but I still struggle with the pronunciation of this word. Fortunately, I’m a pretty good Googler, so I found out the word is Danish and denotes a sense of coziness and comfortable conviviality with feelings of contentment and well-being. This collaborative Dewitt-Seitz Marketplace picnic basket—featuring products from NWS, Hepzibah’s Sweet Shoppe, Blue Heron Trading Company, and Amazing Grace Bakery & Café—might bring a little hygge to you or someone you hold dear.
  6. We’re getting another slicer! It’s no secret that a huge part of our business’s success is our mail order market, but we’re not just slinging whole hams, porkettas, and turkey breasts. Previously, a good portion of the M.O. department’s days would be spent on one or both of the slicers downstairs, but now they will never have to leave the comfort of their very hygge office—even to slice their meats.
  7. The afternoons & evenings have slowed down (temporarily)! Obviously we’re grateful that our business experiences a bunch of endlessly busy days, but from time to time it is enjoyable for those of us on the ground floor to have some shifts to unwind, mess around and convince the restaurant across the hall to deep fry a couple of maple sage turkey & cottage bacon Monte Cristos, tell stories, share favorite music, and give curious customers a little extra attention. It might surprise you, but many humans seek personal enrichment and rewarding experiences, even on the clock. Smokehausers are artists, intellectuals, parents, activists, comedians, scientists, and just genuinely good people, and during the slow season, we have the opportunity to cultivate our own personalities within the context of our workplace.
  8. Sandwich Lab is coming up soon! I’ll write more about this in a future post, but plans are already being laid and sandwich experiments are being refined for our new tradition, the Sandwich Lab, in which we re-learn and re-analyze our techniques, pitch and vote on new potential menu items, and eat a lot of food, and which will be held this year on November 6th. We’ll be closing the shop a little early that day, so we have some space to innovate.

That’s all for this week. I hope none of you lost sleep last week over the missed post. I had sustained no debilitating injuries that kept me from writing, just a bunch of gigs in a row that distracted my simple mind. I’m 99.9% sure I’ll be back here with more Things™ next week, same-ish time.

Oh, and about that Monte Cristo: We made it on our haus-made white bread with swiss and cheddar cheese, and they covered it with French toast batter and graham cracker crumbles before they fried it. We enjoyed it, at their request, with our crayo. The marketing meeting notes inform me our delicious crayo—delicious is an understatement, by the way—will be part of an upcoming mail-order special, so stay tuned for more updates about that.

And finally, Happy Halloweekend, ya ghouls!

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5 Things- Summer Madness!

Summer officially begins on June 21st, but here at the Smokehaus, it effectively starts Memorial Day Weekend. As the weather warms up, tourists and locals alike naturally gravitate towards Lake Superior, Canal Park and Park Point (along with all of the other incredibly beautiful outdoor spaces in Duluth) to soak up that precious surf and sun.  Memorial day weekend is usually when we start to notice that the lines extend a little further down the hallway at our lunch rush, the summertime SECONDARY lunch rush starts in earnest, and that we have a generally hard time getting in and out of our beloved workplace. Right about now you’ll start to notice that our 5 Things blogs will get away from talking about plans, product development and visioning our business, and will probably shift more towards the nuts and bolts of what we will do in earnest for the next 4 months; sling sandwiches.  We have a minute, though, to talk about some other stuff. Let’s get into it!

 

 

What’s ‘On Deck’?  Great question! The answer is more creature comforts. We’ve had a really nice deck right outside our door for the entire time we’ve existed here at The Dewitt Seitz building, and through the years we’ve added more tables and chairs to accommodate our growing number of patrons. Since we don’t have a ton of space in our actual deli, the deck really becomes our dining room for a lot of people. We’ve had it in our minds for a while to put a some of our personality outside of our shop, and the deck offers the perfect canvas. Our amazing team here at The Smokehaus brought the vision to life by buying umbrellas, planters, flowers and furniture, along with creating custom decals to decorate some of the furniture. Our customers have absolutely loved the small but cozy touches that we’ve added, and we’ve even heard rave reviews from our staff. Having a beautiful outdoor space that matches what we do inside the building is just another small step along the way for us in crafting a customer experience that is both memorable and comfortable.

 

 

The Smokehaus just keeps popping up! The businesses that we partner with are extremely important to us. We are so incredibly lucky to have a business partner right here in Canal Park that we not only respect as a business, but is also comprised of our good friends.  Our old pal Dave Hoops has a pretty great (and important in the world of Duluth beer) brewery just about a block away from our Deli. Hoops Brewing also loves great partnerships, which is why they are allowing Northern Waters Smokehaus to curate a pop up restaurant in their taproom on the first Friday of each and every month. We love to draw inspiration for these pop ups from the incredible beers brewed at Hoops, and we’ve done everything from ribs and kimchi to Bison Buddies snack sticks to good old fashioned bratwurst and polish sausage. One thing that we haven’t done much (until the last couple Fridays) was tacos… which seems crazy, right? Our homie TK brought the prerequisite brawursts and accouterments to the party, along with our famous Smokehaus Canrne Adovada tacos. Lo and behold, the tacos were were a huge hit and the first thing to sell out ( pairing brilliantly with Hoops’ Keller Pils ). Catch us each and every month at Hoops for more exciting snacks and, probably, tacos. Speaking of…

Taco Tuesday is maaaaaybe just a little played out. As a concept! Not as a way of life, obviously. But, we recognize that many many places do a riff on Taco Tuesday (including us) and that many of them ripped the concept off from a rather large taco corporation with an inexplicably Anglo-Saxon name purported as their leader (including us). But that doesn’t mean that Taco Tuesday can’t be special, and here at The Smokehaus we do our utmost to make it the best of the best. The aforementioned Carne Adovada tacos from the Hoops popup have always been a staple of our Tuesday special, but we’ve recently really expanded our taco horizons even further. This past Tuesday brought Gringo Tacos. More John than Juan, the Gringo Taco is just like Mom used to make: ground beef (except we grind the beef ourselves), cheddar cheese, iceburg lettuce, tomatoes and salsa (house made). We know that most people get the crispy taco shells that  you toast in the oven, but we weren’t prepared to go quite that far in the name of kitsch, so we decided to offer house-made corn tortillas and soft flour tortillas. Other awesome and even fusion-like flavors of tacos we’ve slung have included Green Curry (a nod to the cuisine of Indian food guru Madhur Jaffrey) and just a plain old (not at all plain OR old) pulled pork taco with simple accompaniments of onion, cilantro and salsa. Got a hankering for a Tuesday taco flavor? Hit us up! We’re trying to change the taco game each week, and we will take any help or suggestions that you have to offer. We feel as though there is always room for collaboration. And tacos. Always tacos.

So Fresh, So Clean- In the past few years, we’ve taken a lot of care in sprucing up and ramping up the functionality of our tiny deli and storefront. Think about it; we had the television show Diners, Drive Ins and Dives show up 8 long years ago, and ever since have been reacting to the astounding amount of business that it has brought our way. Our deli was definitely going through some growing pains trying to accommodate the droves of hungry food tourists beating down our door, but we did it. And we think that we did it pretty well. With all of the big changes that have happened, you often don’t have a moment to contemplate the significance of the small changes. This week, our property manager decided that we were next on the list for a refresh of paint, so we jumped at it! It’s still a work in progress, but we feel that the color scheme that we picked really goes a long way in making the space inviting and calming for not only patrons but our staff as well.  Check out the beginnings here, and come see the final result in person. We think you’ll approve!

Scavenger Hunt- 2018 is the year that we celebrate 20 years of Northern Waters Smokehaus. Knowing what a milestone this is for any business, we decided that we should take the time leading up to our actual anniversary (September) to do some fun stuff for the community that we live in, which coincidentally is the community that supports us so beautifully. Maybe it’s not such a coincidence, but one thing is for certain; we wanted to let Duluth know how much it means to us. More is in the works in the next few months (I won’t get into it here), but we figured we’d start hyping what we think will be a really fun part of our summer- A Scavenger Hunt! In the month of July, we’ll be releasing clues via our social media outlets for a giveaway of 20 (see what we did?) Cajun Finn sandwiches. We chose the Finn because it is not only our most popular sandwich, but we feel our most iconic. Check us out on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter for clues starting July 2nd and win some lunch! Why wouldn’t you?

 

 

Get here in the Summer! Also, get here in the rest of the year. Duluth is beautiful, and it makes us really happy to share it with the people who appreciate it. See you soon!

 

 

 

 

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5 things – volume 9

5 Things – Volume 9

Here’s some stuff that occurred this past week at The Smokehaus. In chronological order this time:

#1. Sunday night Staff Meeting! We crammed ourselves into the common area of our small office. We ran down the agenda, we chatted and laughed. No shortage of laughter in this place. Then the newbies got their height marked on the wall. It’s tradition. And it’s a mirror into the past of all the beautiful humans that have made their mark (hehe) on the Smokehaus in years past.

 

#2. Order Up! So…. There’s been some confusion. When sandwiches are shouted out to shop patrons they are set under a sign that once read “Pickup.” This was, however, not where one would pick up an order they called in to our Pickup department. Pickup patrons can conveniently skip the line and our Pickup staff will bring your order right out to you in the alley way on the North side of the building. That all makes sense, right?! ☺ So, we think our new signage might help alleviate some of the confusion… what do you think? More custom lettering by the one and only Flo.

 

#3. The titan among sandwiches is released on the nation. It’s been a long time coming, but as we dipped our toes into the trending world of Sandwich Kits it was only natural that our best-selling sandwich be one of the competitors. You can read more about how this sandwich came into being in this post. If you ever find yourself staring longingly in the direction of the Smokehaus, you know how to bring it home now. Get ‘yer Cajun Finns sent to your doorstep.

#4. PIXIES! A favorite band for at least 2 Smokehausers (Mary and Nick C), the Pixies were in St Paul this week and Steve-man, Mary, Greg, and Jeremy all went down to see them. They were awesome! They played everything from Caribou to Motorway to Roswell. After the show, we headed to a bar around the corner and were utterly amazed to see Black Francis and Joey Santiago in the next booth over. Magic!

 

#5. Birthdays and a tweet. A few fine folks celebrated birthdays this week including Eric, Jeremy, Jacob, and Ned. If you’re a local you probably know and love them. Plus extra love from the fine peeps behind the Homegrown twitter handle. Well that was nice! Thanks @dhgmf

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Cajun Finn – The Inside Story

The humble beginnings of a Titan among sandwiches

The Cajun Finn is our most popular sandwich by far – we outsell our second most popular sandwich (The Cold Turkey) by nearly double the amount of Cajun Finns. Invented early on in our deli life – around 2004 – the sandwich began as many of recipes did – with the help of customers and the use of ingredients that happened to be around.

Regular customer, dream pop superstar, and all around cool guy Al Sparhawk happened to be in the shop to purchase his favorite at the time, Smoked Atlantic Cajun Salmon. Eric asked if Al wanted to try a sandwich, and Al and Eric basically improvised until they came up with a fairly cohesive mish-mash of the ingredients we had for the purpose of experimentation, including pepperoncini (Eric had a huge hot pepper faze), roasted red peppers (because ripe tomato season is too damn short in Northeast MN), and wild leek cream cheese (I wish we could still make this, but we’d have to hire a team of licensed foragers to bag up an airplane-hanger’s worth every season to keep up with demand).  A sprinkling of greens and a freshly-baked stirato later and before you could say “The Great Destroyer” a wonderful sandwich was born.

Variations on the sandwich have included double cream cheese, no cream cheese/add mustard, add bison pastrami (Affectionately called “The Big Diaper”) and of course the celebrated jean jacket – adding Sriracha and cilantro. But the original recipe, invented on the fly to please a regular, is still a peppery, smoky, sweet, and spicy sandwich that is hard to beat.

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5 Things Volume 5

Volume 5 – Les Sgo!

#1 / Boot in the Barn was a success! The folks came, The cooks cooked and the staff worked really hard. We are really proud of everyone involved!

#2 / Beer in hand – Sandwich in Mouth The Cedar lounge is one of our favorites places to catch a drink and relax. Starting this week you will find ultra fancy, co-branded menus throughout the establishment! That’s right, you can order a sandwich straight to your bar stool at the Cedar Lounge. We think you’ll love the way our sandwiches taste with a cold one.

#3 / The Future Holds New… Photographs! Our creative crew (Stephen & Flo) took a trip to Mary’s (GM) house to scout locations for our new product photos. The abundance of trinkets, textures and materials was inspiring and we can’t wait to get cracking on this dream project.

#4 / Happy Mistakes Our restaurant (Northern Waters Restaurant) makes ice cream from scratch. But what do you get when you burn the base for this sweet treat? Cream Brûlée ice cream! It’s quickly becoming one of our favorite flavors, although the curry is pretty dang tasty…. Nothing like a good happy mistake!

#5 / Our Bread’s First Voyage Our Baker Jerry has been cranking out loaf after loaf of his delicious rye bread for our deli and we are loving it! Although the loaves are living the good life in Canal Park I could tell they were feeling a little antsy and longed for a bigger taste of the world. Low and behold they took the grand voyage to Woodland Ave. and became a permanent addition to our restaurant’s Reuben (The Thursday and sometimes Friday special). This sandwich is truly a legend in the making and now it’s one step closer.