Eatside: Currying Flavor at Gilbert's

Main Street mainstay is part Russian deli, part coffee shop.

These days it's common to find restaurants that, in paving the way for some new fusion of two completely opposing cuisines, will tweak a recipe into obscurity, rendering it useless and confusing. Conversely, finding an eatery that sticks to the original versions of timeless dishes is rewarding but rare. Gilbert's Main Street Bagel Deli in old-town Bellevue is a little bit Russian deli and a little bit corner coffee shop. Its recipes, however, are 100 percent Grandma's-kitchen-approved. The front of the house is filled with various menu boards showing the constant classics, the weekly deals of the day (like half-price bagel sandwiches you'd have to unhinge your jaw to get your lips around), and two or three daily specials. But you could probably close your eyes and order whatever your favorite childhood lunch was, and it'd be on the menu. On the day we stopped by, one of the specials was the chicken-curry sandwich. When we asked the man behind the counter what he'd recommend, he had a hard time narrowing it down. However, the guy in line after us offered his unsolicited opinion that we "have to get the chicken-curry sandwich. I already had it for lunch today and am back to get one for a co-worker." After ordering, it was time to choose a sunny seat near the windows. The lunch rush had already come and gone by 1:30 p.m., yet it took longer than it should have to slap together a sandwich. All was forgiven once the eating commenced. Glibert's self-proclaimed classic is the Reuben, piled to the hilt with tender and flavorful pastrami and corned beef, divided by slices of Swiss cheese, nestled in a red cabbage-heavy slaw, and slathered in Russian dressing. The chicken-curry sandwich is filling enough for lunch, and comes with sides of smashed red-potato salad and crunchy pickle spears. The recipe for the chicken-curry salad is as enviable as it is yellow, with enough curry powder to sink a ship, just as it should be. The chicken is comforting and seems home-roasted, much as day-after-Thanksgiving turkey sandwiches tend to taste. While our mid-afternoon visit was quiet, calming, and tasty, breakfast is when things really hum. There never seems to be enough seating, especially on weekends. This isn't a problem in the summer, though, since it's easy enough to take it all to go. eatside@seattleweekly.com  

 
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