Urbane deli caters to an eclectic crowd in Old Bellevue
Special to the Seattle Times
Little did Steve Gilbert know when he opened Main Street Bagel and Deli six years ago that Bellevue's downtown building boom would spread into Old Bellevue and pricey condos would creep like kudzu down still-quaint Main Street.
They come for coffee and a bagel with strollers or briefcases and browse through the eclectic array of books and magazines displayed against tall windows that frame a handful of tables on the sidewalk.
At lunch, they come in pin-stripes or jogging suits to chow down on huge sandwiches ($8.95-$9.95) filled with good ingredients - four kinds of turkey, pastrami, corned beef, salami, egg salad, tuna, roast beef - stacked high on Gai's bread. Salads are equally bodacious, and the matzo balls are almost as big as Bellevue Square.
Gilbert makes the chicken soup himself, but mostly he stays out of the kitchen, preferring to schmooze out front and leave the food in the hands of his friendly, helpful staff. Place your order at the counter, take a little tent card with a number on it to your table and a server bearing your heaping plate will find you. Collecting the silverware, napkins, coffee or water is your job.
On Saturday and Sunday, a changing roster of jazz performers keeps things even livelier than they are on weekdays. Customers in church clothes or sweats pack the place and plow through hefty omelets, Frisbee-sized pancakes and scrambles. Even when it looks like every table is full, the wait probably won't be longer than 15 minutes.
With so many residential buildings now within walking distance, the future bodes well for this urbane little eatery. It's now officially called Gilbert's on Main, though it's still a deli and they still carry bagels (from the Mercer Island Noah's) and, yes, the awning still says Main Street Bagel and Deli. As soon as he sells enough sandwiches, Gilbert says, he can afford to change the awning.
Harvest scramble: Yellow and orange bell peppers, mushrooms, feta and cheddar cheese and a generous pinch of herbs de Provence lift this sunny plate of eggs from the commonplace into the sublime. Served with sautéed thick slices of new potatoes and onions and your choice of bagel with cream cheese, it's enough food for two (and a dollar extra if you want to share). But still such a deal!
French toast: Two thick slices of egg-dipped, griddled bread dusted with powdered sugar come with a trio of toppings on the side: maple syrup (mmmm), a vibrant raspberry puree (oooooh) and a compote of apples, cinnamon and raisins that tastes just like apple-pie filling (aaaaah).
Italian chicken sausage: Two fat links redolent of sun-dried tomatoes, garlic and herbs garnished with slices of hot-house tomato and chopped scallion.
Itemized bill, meal for two:
Harvest scramble: $ 8.95
French toast: 8.95
Italian chicken sausage: 3.95
1 single tall mocha: 2.50
1 coffee: 1.95
Tax: (9.1%) 2.37
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