Siiri Sampson 2011
It might look unnaturally yellow, but its oh-so-delicious curriness will convince you otherwise.
Never underestimate the power of a solid, tried-and-true recipe


TMJ Is Totally Worth It at Gilbert's

Siiri Sampson 2011
It might look unnaturally yellow, but its oh-so-delicious curriness will convince you otherwise.
Never underestimate the power of a solid, tried-and-true recipe that's been handed down through the generations. While one might agree that over the lifespan of Great Aunt Marge's lemon pound cake, it's probably seen mild changes, like, say, changing out the shortening (or God forbid, lard) for something more reasonable like applesauce, you wouldn't go so far as to turn it into lemon poppy-seed muffins, right? At some point, enough is enough; if it's not broken, don't fix it!

These days, it's more common to find restaurants and chefs that, in trying to make a name for themselves or pave the way for some new fusion of two completely opposing cuisines, will morph a recipe into obscurity, rendering it useless and even confusing for everyone. Finding an eatery that sticks to its roots, keeps it uncomplicated, and pays tribute to the pioneers who engineered the original versions of timeless dishes is rewarding but rare. It's only fitting, then, that in old-town Bellevue, sits Gilbert's Main Street Bagel Deli (10024 Main St.).

Gilbert's is a little bit Russian deli, a little bit corner coffee shop, and its recipes are 100% 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 their half-price bagel sandwiches you'd have to unhinge your jaw to get your lips around), and of course at least two or three daily specials. The cold case in front is full of even more offerings just waiting for you to take them home. You could probably close your eyes and order whatever your childhood favorite lunch was, and it'd be on the menu. There's also full-service espresso and treats.

On the day we happened to stop 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--a good sign. 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." That's convincing enough, isn't it?

Siiri Sampson 2011.
I don't even like Swiss cheese, or slaw, or Catalina dressing, but somehow they just work all together. Who is the Reuben behind this sandwich, anyway?
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., and yet it took longer than it should've to slap together a sandwich. Annoying as the long wait was, all was forgiven once the eating commenced.

Half of the chicken curry sandwich is filling enough for lunch, not to mention the side of upscale, country-style smashed red-potato salad and crunchy pickle spears. The recipe for the chicken curry salad is as covetable as it is yellow. There's enough curry powder to sink a ship, just as it should be. The chicken is somehow comforting and tastes home-roasted, much as day-after-Thanksgiving turkey sandwiches with cranberry sauce tend to taste.

Glibert's self-proclaimed classic is the Reuben, which pretty much divides the population into those who live and die by the kraut-filled sandwich and those who run for the exit at the first waft of warm sauerkraut and corned anything. Gilbert's is piled to the hilt with tender and flavorful corned beef and pastrami, divided by slices of Swiss cheese and nestled between a red cabbage-heavy slaw--not kraut--and slathered in Russian dressing (aka Catalina). All the breads and bagels were soft and hearty, and held the sandwich of choice together until the last bite.

While our mid-afternoon visit was quiet, calming, and tasty, with more literary options than you can shake a stick at, the breakfast visit is bustling. There never seems to be enough seating for the brunch rush, especially on weekends, which isn't a problem in the summer, since it's easy enough to take it all to go. With so many options, and so few stomachs to try it all, more testing will clearly need to happen to see if the whole menu stands up to par with the initial samplings.

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