Friday, April 22, 2011

McAlister's Deli, Aurora

Pretty much typifies why I really, really dislike chain restaurants.

Stopped in McAlister's Deli on the way to a DIA drop off. Really wish we'd have picked another Google option. But we saw "deli" in the unfamiliar name, strip mall placement and (from the outside looking in big picture windows) cute sit down tables, sort of Chipotle-ish.

The deli moniker is a bit of stretch. A “deli” by definition, I guesssandwiches and soups and suchbut McAllister’s is like kissing through Saran Wrap, missing the earthy passion of an oily meat and cheese, whole grain mustard and Branston Pickle true-blue deli.

Was curious about their “spud” offerings, pictured on the overhead menu boards as giant, overstuffed potatoes. Hell they've even trademarked the Spud Max™ (note, when a restaurant web site uses a proliferation of exclamation points to describe the food, steer clear.) I was drawn to both the cheeky name and belly warming description of The Big Nasty® Spud (roast beef smothered in gravy and topped with cheddar-jack cheese), but at 6 p.m. on a Thursday night they had none cooked and ready. Huh. Opted for the French Dip. The thin, pre-packaged roast beef was speckled with green patina and sat under a thin layer of melted cold (yes, there is such a thing) cheddar cheese. CHEDDAR. Could have been an interesting take on a classic if topped with caramelized red onions and served on a crunchy wheat baguette (not Wonder Bread squishy hoagie roll.) The side of potato salad suggested by the cashier was a cold, hard lump of yellow mayo sprinkled with paprika. One bite and it was over.

My leaving-on-a-jet-plane companion fared better, choosing the Half a New Orleans Muffuletta (authentic muffuletta bread with olive oil, ham, salami, olive salad and provolone) and side of Asiago Bisque. The sandwich was a chewy good time, but then you can’t go wrong with good bread, green olive tapenade and meat. Expected more from the soup, but the slightly sour bite of asiago and white pepper worked well.

And what is up with the huge ass plastic drink cups? Think Big Gulp, on eleven.

True a chain and yes, a family sammie shop in the ‘burbs (I quickly learned). So next week when he drives me to an airport departure, we're going the long way ‘round and getting some real deli.

Because I know where to find it...

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