Schwartz Brothers Brighten A Dim Deli
Schwartz Brothers Restaurant and Delicatessen, at Bellevue Square, 107 Bellevue Square. 9 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday. 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday. 453-7672.
An annoying person asked me recently if I was in training as a professional shopper.
"No," I replied icily. "Why do you ask?"
"Well, you spend so much time at the Square, I just assumed . . ."
I asked him if he knew what `assume' meant, then went on to explain that one of my favorite restaurants is in the Square, and I am not shopping constantly - I'm eating out all the time.
He couldn't appreciate the distinction.
Truth is, Schwartz Brothers Restaurant and Deli, formerly the Sandwich Shop and Pie Place, is clearly the preferred destination for masses of shoppers with sore feet and for strollers, store clerks and office workers looking for a quick bite. Also for transplanted Easterners dying for a real deli-style sandwich.
The February remodel and renaming of The Sandwich Shop (the first restaurant to open in the remodeled Bellevue Square, 11 years ago) was a much-needed update of a dark and aging interior. Besides the bold new color scheme, the most notable improvement was raising the ceiling.
The new space is narrow and windowless, just like the old one, but the tunnel-like quality has been eliminated. One aspect of the remodel that I don't like are the new bar-stool-height tables replacing the standard tables in the front section. But this is still the best spot for people watching, if you don't mind perching like a bird. Parents with small kids will find this section unusable.
The front of the restaurant now features an espresso bar, pastry case and frozen yogurt stand, conveniently placed for take-out orders, with a separate register. Just as before, sit-down diners move along cafeteria-style, pushing their trays.
The line begins at the pastry case, which holds a large selection of goodies, all baked at the Schwartz Brothers Deli in downtown Seattle.
These are the same pastries sold at Starbucks Coffee stores. Curiously, there is no cheesecake. What kind of a deli doesn't have cheesecake?
The menu was tweaked slightly: Gone are the chicken-almond salad and the venerable salad sampler, two items on the menu from the very beginning.
All my old favorites still remain, including the Cal BLT (slices of B, shredded L, ripe T plus avocado and cream cheese on wheat; $4.99), homemade meatloaf on sourdough, served hot and sliced right before your eyes ($4.49), and the prime rib dip (at $6.99 the most expensive item on the menu: six ounces carved to order, served au jus on grilled French bread).
The biggest change is the addition of five overstuffed combination cold-cut sandwiches. In keeping with a trend established by some New York delis, these sandwiches are named after celebrities. Just in case you feel foolish ordering Jeff Brotman for lunch, you can order by number - Jeff's No. 6. Personally, I think they should name their sandwiches after professional diners.
Restaurant reviews are a regular Wednesday feature of the Seattle Times Eastside Life section. Reviewers visit restaurants unannounced and pay in full for all their meals. When they interview members of the restaurant management and staff, they do so only after the meals and services have been appraised.
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