I am capable of a great deal of snobbery about my food. That’s not to say that you won’t ever see me catching a bit at a Quizno’s, it’s just to say that details do matter to me when I’m choosing my lunch location. On days when I want someone to care as much about the details of my sandwich as I do, I go to the Atrium Cafe in the Washington Square building at Connecticut & L.
There are rather a lot of little delis and whatnot all over the city, often run by immigrant families catering to the hungry lunchtime hordes of downtown. They vary wildly in quality, but the Atrium almost always makes me happy. Why? Because when I ask them for a roast beef sandwich, I watch them slice the beef off the roast, arrange it carefully in the shape of the bread I’ve selected, and coordinate a two-person process to ensure that it lands where it belongs with a minimum of mess and waste. They don’t skimp on it, either. They don’t just slather on the mayo, they spread it carefully and remove the excess. They have cranberry sauce for your turkey sandwich (also sliced off the roasted turkey breast in front of you). They make suggestions about what types of condiments you might want on your sandwich, rather than sullenly waiting for your request. They slice the sandwich in half BEFORE putting it on the paper (don’t know why this is so uncommon, honestly, seems like a no-brainer).
They’re not the best sandwiches I’ve ever had, but they’re really pretty good. And some days, when everything is going to shit and clients are demanding that I spend my precious weekend time firing someone because they’re too chicken to let me do it while the person is on site, I just want someone to care about my damn sandwich. And those Atrium people? The most detail-oriented sandwich professionals I’ve ever seen in a lunch counter environment.
This post appeared in its original form at DC Metblogs