American Restaurants

The Lift Cafe

14 West Broadway
Salt Lake City , UT . 84101
385 -24-2-76

A simple test for a simple deli.

Nestled in a quiet side street of majestic downtown Salt Lake is a small space I love. Once patroned by a small Bistro, a Tea house and a deli sandwich shop, 14 W and Broadway over looks the hustle and bustle of downtown life and atmosphere. Over the years I have watched this corner change and grow up with the city. Ma an Pa traditions are lost on the economy and big brand restaurants selling their burritos made your way over take the corner, and yet there is something about this little location that has been able to sustain it’s charm but certainly not it’s owners.

The original east coast style sub shop transitioned into a franchise sub shop, which then closed it’s doors only to open a greek style restaurant which lasted just a short time. Going back to it’s roots a brave owner has once again embarked on staking the claim of this great location and quaint big city style atmosphere and transitioning it back to a proper deli.

The Lift is a simple menu with favorite sandwiches and soups and a humble breakfast menu. The server staff is friendly and the meal was delivered quickly, but then again it’s just some meat and cheese on bread, so there’s that. Instantly upon entering the establishment I was disappointed to find that the air conditioner still after all these years was not fixed and while on a cold December winter’s day this might be accommodating, it was only October. Luckily this place finally got it right and had made outside seating available.

A simple test for a simple deli. As most deli connoisseurs would tell you, if you plan on eating at a deli you must always rate the Reuben. Now not all deli’s have a Reuben but a pastrami sandwich of some sort will suffice or you can test with a french dip. Simple to execute and conversely simple to screw up. I perused the menu and went with the Pastrami and Swiss on a Marble Rye, I ordered it with out the mustard of course. Because mustard is the root of all evil! It was nice to know that a cookie or chips were available with the sandwich to offset the moderate price of the sandwich. As I sat in anticipation of this pastrami sandwich my excitement grew soaking in the surroundings of wonderful downtown on a pleasant autumn day.

Our orders came and we eagerly unwrapped the butcher paper and what to our surprise was a meager sized sandwich that deflated our mood. My butcher paper covered in spicy mustard was sign that something had gone wrong, but the trooper I am, I excused the mishap knowing that in some rare instances, the condiment is necessary for the full palette experience. The bread was sunken in, the meat was stacked about an eighth of an inch high with some cheese tossed on somewhere in there. It looked like something I could have thrown together at home while on a budget and trying to save money. A sandwich like this from my Mom would let me know that I had done something wrong and that I was on her shit list. I choked down every mustardy bite of disappointment though looking forward to that ever so soft chocolate chip cookie.

We finished our sandwiches and debated on tackling the cookie before or after the journey back to the office. I had to have something, this sandwich was just not enough to sustain even a small child. I unwrapped the cellophane from the cookie and gently bent a piece of the cookie off. The heat from establishment must have kept them soft, as ooey gooey chocolate chunks where displaying their melty strings of chocolate. Now this is a deli cookie I can get behind, this is what makes the suffering of the mustard meat sandwich bearable.

With one bite my palette when into a frenzy transporting me all the way back to my childhood in San Francisco. Where we would visit the Fisherman’s Wharf and the wafts of sea salt and dead fish would scour your nose permanently engraving your memories of aquatic death. Bile wrenching toward the back of my throat became critical panic set in and I was distraught at how in the world could something so pleasing be ripped from my comfort foods for life. Just then the absurdity of cigarette smoke wafted by our outside table flooding my senses with nicotine and carcinogens which actually was better than the bite of death that had preceded it. Ironically it was the cook ( I use the term loosely, as even a Subway employee would be more qualified to slap meat on a bun and be a cook. ) that had just stepped out for a smoke break.

– Funky - 2015.10.09


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