#201: Roundhouse Deli

Roundhouse Deli is a tiny little breakfast/lunch spot on Church Street right across from the Union Pacific rail yard engine maintenance facility.  It’s been around for a long time, 35 years or something like that.  Recently, however, it has come under new ownership and, after a brief closure, is back to work serving up breakfast, deli sandwiches and Mexican cuisine.  Somehow, I’ve never been here.  I decided early this morning that today was the day and had a small lunch in anticipation.  They close at 5PM M-F so I was plenty hungry by the time 3:45 rolled around and I pulled up.

There is no parking lot but a lot of room on both sides of Church Street to park.  I took the above picture a while back when they were closed, but when they are open they have a couple of small tables and umbrellas set up outside where you can sit and eat.  Inside was actually a bit larger than I had expected.  I wasn’t even really sure if there would be seating on the inside until then.  Indeed there was though, and a decent amount of it, considering the size of the place.  I sat in the far back corner, so what you see in the photo is pretty much 90% of the space.  The only thing you can’t see is a series of large coolers, like you’d find in a convenience store, which had a large selection of bottled beverages.

I had planned for quite some time, even before they reopened, to have a reuben when I finally visited.  Unfortunately I did not see one on their menu.  It’s a pretty basic one, a handful of deli-type sandwiches and sides along with breakfast burritos and sandwiches.  I ended up deciding on a simple hot pastrami [$6.99] and a side of fries [$1.99].  I also ordered a fountain drink which must have been just over a dollar as the total was $10.79.  As I paid the cashier told me that the pastrami came with mustard only, but they could add produce if I wanted.  I said to go ahead and add lettuce and onions.  I took my seat by the coolers and waited while I listened to some sounds coming from the kitchen and the TV.  There were a couple of guys that had just finished eating when I arrived and they were getting up to leave as I sat down.  A few minutes later, just before my food was ready, a couple came in, then another, and some more.  They had a bit of a rush there for a while up until I left.  Good to see for a little place like this off the beaten path.

It was maybe just over 5 minutes from when I ordered when I saw my sandwich and fries being assembled on a tray up at the counter with napkins and my drink.  I got up to grab it and the gentleman who I think made my food asked me if I ended anything else.  I grabbed at a red bottle that looked like it was probably ketchup which turned out to be mostly empty and he reached under the counter to get a handful of packets to place on my tray.  With that I was back to my seat and ready to chow down.  The fries were the crinkle-cut type that you can get at the supermarket.  That said, they were fried perfectly and had a good crisp to the outside while still being soft and hot inside.  They seemed to have some salt on them, but most of it had filtered through to the bottom.  If just a bit more had stuck to the fries, they might have been perfect on their own, but these needed a little dab of ketchup to enjoy.

The hot pastrami was probably about a foot long, maybe just a touch under.  There was less pastrami than I had expected, having heard rave reviews for this place for a couple of years I had built up an image of a monster sandwich.  This is my own fault, as no reviews I’ve ever read/heard made a big deal about the size.  I dug in.  The mustard, despite being very thinly applied (none oozing out in any place), was quite strong and at first I felt like it dominated the sandwich.  With each further bite however, the pastrami slowly asserted itself more and more.  Taking a couple of test bites of stray pieces on their own, I found that it had a solid, strong flavor by itself.  These two ingredients were battling for my attention.  The pastrami was oddly dry and moist at the same time.  I find it difficult to explain.  As if the outsides of the meat had dried out and somehow sealed in some moisture deeper within.  It was a little odd.  The lettuce and onions seemed fresh and crisp.

Overall I was fairly happy with this sandwich and with Roundouse Deli in general.  It was not mind blowing, but it was simple and tasty.  The bread was soft and I enjoyed each bite to the end.  The service was minimal but friendly.  To be honest I think I like the idea of this little place, and it’s potential, more than the execution.  I feel like this could be one of those famous little hole-in-the wall joints that gets a feature on a show with a spiked, bleach-blonde headed host who wears flaming button-up shirts, and blows up bringing in food tourists.  In the end, it’s just a decent deli though.  Oh well.


#159: La Bou Bakery & Cafe

I stopped for lunch today at La Bou.  For the longest time I thought La Bou was a massive nation-wide chain.  Only when I was removing all the big chains from my list early on into this blog did I discover that it was actually just a Sacramento-area company which reaches up 80 to Auburn and East on 50 to El Dorado Hills at the extreme edges of it’s territory.  In Roseville we have just one, located in the Hobby Lobby shopping center on the Santa Clara Drive side.  The other one down Douglas is just over the border into Granite Bay, which I remembered just before heading out, and I avoided repeating the mistake I made with The Habit by going to the proper location on Santa Clara.

I arrived at about 11:20.  This La Bou has a spot at the end of the building which gives it a big wrap-around area of outside seating.  There weren’t many customers there when I showed up, maybe just over a dozen, but being nice out more than half of them were outside.  I missed out on a good opportunity to take some photos of the restaurant when it was pretty empty early on because a steady stream of customers flowed in after I had placed my order.  I try to avoid taking photos with customers in it whenever I can.  I did get a clean shot down the side area which should give you an idea of what it’s like inside, if you’ve never been in a La Bou.    This location is a big one.  The dining room wraps entirely around the kitchen, with large wings on both sides of the building and lots of open spaces in between.

I took some time looking over the menu.  I kind of figured I would get a sandwich and either a salad or a bowl of soup.  The salads menu is not detailed at all, only listing the names of salads.  Some are self explanatory, but I would have liked to see what was in each anyway.  Their online menu is much better.  I was pleased to see they had Thai Iced Tea on the drinks menu.  I’ve been on a Thai Tea kick recently.  They have a good selection of other beverages including lots of hot & cold coffees.  Years ago when I opened Round Table in the mornings I would swing through the Granite Bay La Bou drive through and get a White Mocha to kick off the morning.

Just a moment after I started reading the menu, one of the employees turned around, noticed me and greeted me, waiting by the register for me to be ready.  Eventually I stepped up and placed my order.  I went with the sandwich I pretty much always get here, turkey on a croissant (all sandwiches are served with mayonnaise, mustard, lettuce and tomato with choice of bread: croissant, baguette, sourdough or whole wheat)[$6.50].  With that I got a small bowl of Creamy Tomato Bisque [$3.70] and the Thai Iced Tea [$2.95].  I was given my receipt with order number and she said she’d have my tea out on this side of the counter in a moment.  In just a few minutes, which I spent meandering around the dining room and deciding where I wanted to sit, my number was called and almost simultaneously at the other end of the counter my tea was ready, being mixed up to it’s uniform orange color by a few twirls of her wrist before setting it down.  I grabbed both and headed to a table near one of several doors and windows, grabbing a spoon and napkins from the end of the counter on the way.

The tomato bisque was just a little too hot to eat right away, so I slid that aside to cool off and started with the sandwich.  I don’t come to La Bou very often, but when I get this sandwich it’s always very consistent.  Even between the different locations I can expect pretty much the same exact quality and proportions.  It’s not the big, filling sandwich that you find at Beach Hut or Mr. Pickles, or of the quality that a place like Better Foods Deli serves up, but it’s a very reliable and satisfying one.  The lettuce was nice and crisp and the tomatoes ripe and juicy.  There was just the right amount of both mayo and mustard (some dijon-type).  Enough to taste each in every bite but not overpower the turkey or be squirting out the sides when you take a bite.  The turkey was standard, thin-sliced deli turkey, but good nonetheless.  The croissant was nice and flaky, and had that nice buttery flavor to it.  The creamy tomato bisque had cooled down after I had eaten half of the sandwich.  In it were a half dozen croutons which, on top of being soft to start with, had by now soaked up the soup and were mushy little sponges.  Served alongside were a couple slices of bread to dip.  This tomato bisque was quite good, above average for sure, but it was lacking just slightly on the creaminess and was a touch thinner than I would have liked.

One thing I’ve never figured out about La Bou is if you’re supposed to clear your own table or not.  I think the general consensus in this country is if the restaurant has customer garbage cans than you should do it yourself.  No La Bou I’ve been to seem to have garbage cans or clearly defined places for trays to go.  What they do have is a cart with tubs and a garbage on it, and I’ve always put my stuff there when I was done since I’ve seen others doing the same.  This visit included, I’ve never walked out of a La Bou being anything but satisfied.  Nothing less, nothing more.  The Thai tea was a nice change up that I haven’t had here before.

#82: Cafe Elletti

Last Monday I had a rare opportunity to be back in Roseville pretty early due to having a Dr. appointment after work.  I took advantage of it by crossing off the list a little cafe which has pretty limited hours.  Cafe Elletti is a tiny little joint in an office building near the corner of Douglas and Eureka.  I only found it because I was doing generic “food” searches on Google maps.  Unless you worked in the building you’d probably never know it was there.

I headed in at about 3PM.  From the front doors of the main building it’s straight down the center hallway and the last door on the right.  Inside there is a tall counter loaded with chips, bagels, teas and other things.  I could barely see the woman that greeted me.  Over to the left by the register I had a clearer view of the menu on the wall and told her I would need a minute to decide what I was getting.  She resumed tidying up as they got ready to close for the day (Mon-Thurs 7:30-3:30, Fri 7:30-2:30).  They have a larger selection of sandwiches than I would have expected for a little place like this (see the menu here).  I decided on the Turkey, Cranberry & Cream Cheese sandwich (on sourdough walnut wheat bread).  I had a choice of chips or cole slaw.  I went with the cole slaw to continue to explore my taste for it.

There are about a half a dozen small tables in Cafe Elletti as well as some outdoor seating (which looked like it may have been closed or under construction, there was caution tape visible right outside the door).  I was the only one there and took a seat near an inside window.  Each table has a box of kleenex and decorated salt & pepper shakers.  I realized I forgot to get a beverage but didn’t feel like doing another transaction.  They have fountain sodas and a cooler with a standard array of bottled options.  There was also a freezer to the right of this that had a sign reading something like “Ice Cream Inside”.

Probably no more than five minutes after ordering I had my sandwich delivered.  The first thing I noticed was how oddly colored the bread was.  It almost had a blue or purple tinge to it.  I think it even threw off the white balance on my camera.  There was nothing wrong with it though and it tasted fine.  That’s just the way it looks, I guess.  The sandwich was extremely simple, the only ingredient I could tell that was in addition to turkey, cranberry & cream cheese was lettuce.  If there was mayo or some other condiment I didn’t notice it.  Overall it was decent.  The turkey was moist and there was plenty of cream cheese and cranberry sauce.  If it had mayo, it could have used some more.  The bread was good but was a little on the dry side, which might be normal for that kind.  Looking back at the menu it seems that this sandwich should have also come with tomatoes, onions and pickles, I’m not sure why it didn’t have them.  Tomatoes and onions would have been a nice addition.  The cole slaw was good, if small, and I’m glad I’m expanding my horizons in that direction.

I think there are probably better sandwich choices on the menu, and of course they also have breakfast options at well that I didn’t try.  I wasn’t too impressed by this sandwich Cafe Elletti, but that said I would  gladly welcome such an eatery in my own workplace.  To have such close and quick access to lots of breakfast, lunch and snack options would be really nice, even if it’s not mind blowing.  I hope the workers of 2240 Douglas appreciate the convenience they have right there 😉

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