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Kitchen Sink? Not What Blondie Would Serve Her Dagwood — Pastrami On the Italian Hoagie — Great Idea!

Restaurant: Leger's Deli
Sandwiches, Salad, Soups
Location: 7626 S. Campus View Drive, West Jordan (Map)
Price Range: $2.35-$9.79
B — See Foodie Report

I once ate at Leger's downtown, when it was in a sliver-of-a-space where they served a slim selection of sandwiches on sliced, bagged bread. The only bright spot was that I was in line next to an old friend from high school, so I got to catch up a little bit. I was so dissatisfied that I never went back. Now, at least 10 years later, they have opened multiple locations, including their newest, at Jordan Landing in West Jordan. It was with a certain level of misgiving that I walked up to its front door. There was an almost artsy sign over the door, but hiring a graphic designer does not make a sandwich taste better. Thankfully, they've done more than upgrade their signage.

Inside, the décor was nice. A long bar, with a deli case, self-serve beverage bar, a rack of chips, and a row of tables and chairs along the left side that reminded me of the New York City delis I had seen on TV. This was a definite improvement over my visit all those years ago. For one thing, they had fountain drinks, not just canned soda and no refills. (Which was one of the things that made me never go back again.)

Almost as soon as I entered, a pair of young employees in aprons greeted me with big smiles and talked on top of each other, asking me if I had been there before. I said I had, but it had been 10 years or so. An older woman behind them, not looking up from the sandwich she was assembling, called out, "A lot has changed since then." I thought: "That is yet to be determined."

The menu board was an old-fashioned rectangle of plastic with the old plastic ALL CAPS letters that you place by hand. Again, a bit of an homage to the New York City delis. Worse, the sandwiches listed were pretty slim. They seemed to think a lot of their Italian (pastrami and salami) and their Kitchen Sink (something of a Dagwood but with a salad bar on top of it). But that was all they seemed to really promote. In fact, the front of their menu boasts, "Home of the Kitchen Sink."

The guy at the counter handed me a long notepad, where he told me to just write up what I want to order. That was the same as when I had been there before. But I saw that the menu was not as limited as it had once been, because the idea seemed to be less about having a set number of sandwiches, more about you building your own. They certainly had more bread options than sliced bread, too, which was visible from the register, as well as having the options listed on the order pad. Already, I was feeling more positive.

Finally, I thought, "OK, I'll bite," and ordered the Kitchen Sink. But I didn't want the sprouts, and I didn't want the olives, when it wasn't an Italian. And I didn't want onions. And I wanted Swiss and American cheese. And I wanted peppercinis. And I didn't want some of the other veggies that seemed to have earned its name. And I got it on a roll, not the sliced bread that I could get at home. And I ordered a whole sandwich, not a half. (Another thing that I remembered from 10 years ago.)

I saw that they had my favorite chips, Jalapeno, so I got a combo. When I went to fill my drink, I saw that they had Pepsi products, which is not my favorite, but they had Mountain Dew. They also had lemonade. So I put in about an inch or so of lemonade, then filled it up the rest of the way with Mountain Dew. I think the mix makes it taste more like Mello Yello, which I prefer.

Near the front window, they had a raised table, with stools, rather than just chairs, so I sat there, and waited. The place was immaculately clean, which is a good thing, and I studied their deli counter, where they had a variety of salads available.

Then the guy who waited on me, yelled at me from the table where they build the sandwiches, "Do you want the Kitchen Sink or do you want what you marked?" This surprised me a little. Apparently, you order the Kitchen Sink with everything, or you get a custom sandwich. No mixing. Seemed kind of silly to me, but I told him to go with what was on my form.

After not too long, he was at the register, and called my name. I went over to the register, paid for my meal, and took it on a tray to my table.

First words out of my mouth:
"That actually looks good.”

The bread looked a bit crusty, and was wide, which promised to give me that life-is-good feeling when I was done eating. It was in a red-and-white checkered paper basket, cut in half with a frilly tooth pick punched down through each side. Also, they had wrapped the second half in plastic wrap. I smiled at that, wondering what kind of customers they had who couldn't eat a whole sandwich. But it was a nice thought.

First words out of my mouth after first bite:
"OK. Not bad. Wish the lettuce was shredded."

The iceberg lettuce was layered on in leaves, not shredded, which makes for a nice slippery surface for your tomatoes and pickles to shoot out the sides like Gretsky making a slap shot. But the bread was excellent. As I suspected, it was a bit crusty, but not overly so, the inside was soft and a bit chewy. That was great.

After a few bites, I ran into a bit of the sort of refrigerator flavor that too often accompanies cold roast beef. It has something to do with the cold fat in the meat, but it's one of the reasons why I don't eat roast-beef sandwiches often. That was a real a real disappointment. By the time I finished the first half, I almost wanted to pull off the sliced beef, but resisted the urge. The ham and turkey were decent, the flavors blending to form a new harmony, but the roast beef kept striking a discordant chord.

After unwrapping the second half and starting in on it, I looked at the receipt on my tray and realized that they had actually charged me less for my sandwich than the cost of a whole Kitchen Sink. Guess they really did take that seriously if you didn't go for the full sink. That was a nice surprise.

In the end, I was not extremely happy with my sandwich. It was good, but it suffered in comparison to the Dagwood at Gandolfo's. I wouldn't order it again. On the other hand, it was a far more pleasant experience than when I had visited their Legers a la Keyhole years ago, where I had actually finished my meal angry. And that's a good thing. You should leave a meal happy. Eating is one of life's greatest pleasures! All the same, although I was definitely full, it just wasn't good enough to give me the life-is-good feeling that I love after a meal.

Most negative thing about the experience: the beef.

But, if I can get that bread and find a combination of their meats that makes me happy, I could eat at Legers again and again.

On my second visit, I saw that they had six people working behind the counter on a Saturday afternoon, so I wondered what was going on that they were so busy. When I opened the door, however, I saw that they were not so busy ... and half the tables were not wiped down. (Funny how that jumped out at me so readily.) So what were all those people doing? Nonetheless, I walked up to the long bar with the deli case and picked up one of their order forms to fill out. A few seconds later, a woman called out, "Have you been here before?" I looked up from the order form I was filling out (which seemed to say that I had), and told her I had. She grinned from ear to ear and said, "Oh, good!" I appreciate the perkiness, but I had thought that was supposed to lead somewhere ... but it didn't. Ah, well.

When I looked up at the old-fashioned menu board, I was reminded of how slim their sandwich selection was, but thought that maybe I could make something up. The order form had a place where you could check off meats, so I thought that would be good. Their Italian Hoagie (one of their three items listed under "Set Sandwiches") sounded like it might be good, and a sign on the wall said it had Pastrami on it, which is unusual, but something that I had always wished more places did. So I decided to try that — but it didn't have ham on it. It was Pastrami and Salami. What? So I checked the box to add Ham under "Meats/Others" on the sheet, selected Provolone under "Cheeses." Under "Toppings," I selected Mayonnaise, Oil & Vinegar, Lettuce, Tomato, Dill Pickle, Pepperoncini (their spelling, not mine), and "Make it a Combo" for $2.25 to add a drink and chips. When the woman came over, she started telling me that most of my toppings come on it normally, so I didn't need to check them. I wondered why they were on the form, then, but kept my mouth shut. She also said that they would have to charge extra for ham, which I had already figured, so I said was OK.

I looked at the tables (still not wiped down) and they had a small one in the back with a top made up of small tiles. I thought it looked nice, but it had folding chairs, rather than the nicer ones in the rest of the place, but at least it was clean. So I sat and waited for them to tell me my sandwich was ready, and looked up at the menu board. They had soup and pasta salad, and other salads, then another woman called for my attention, asking if I wanted half of my whole sandwich with Ham and the other with Pastrami, so I could avoid paying extra. I told her no, that I wanted it all. Then I was called up to pay for it as the first woman was finishing up, and saw that she was putting onions on it (which was not on the sheet). I called out that I didn't want onions, and she sighed tolerantly, then picked them off. Which annoyed me; it wasn't my fault she wasn't paying attention to the order form. I got my favorite chips, Jalapeno, then received my tray, with half of my sandwich wrapped in plastic, the other unwrapped in a checkered, paper basket. The woman who made it smiled as she handed it to me, and declared with gusto, "Now, that's a sandwich!" And I couldn't agree more.

The bread was crusty, wide as a loaf of French bread, and I was excited to have an Italian sandwich with Pastrami on it.

First words out of my mouth after first bite: "Oh, yeah. Pastrami's awesome."

Again, the unshredded iceberg lettuce made things start shooting out in every direction with every bite, but the bread was great, crusty and a bit chewy on the inside. The Pastrami was high quality and flavorful, even when eaten cold, blending well with the flavor of the Salami and Ham. After unwrapping the second half and starting in on it, a pair of women came in and received a shrill greeting from the woman who took my order, screamed out like a howler monkey, who declared that they were family, their relation, and how glad she was to see them. Again, I appreciate the enthusiasm, but the initial jungle cry had me hunching my shoulders and squeezing out tomatoes in all directions on the lettuce slide.

In the end, I was happy with my sandwich, particularly with the additions I had made to it. I had my life-is-good feeling that comes with a full stomach.

Most negative thing about the experience: the howler monkey. Foodie Report

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     noun. Slang.  A person who has an ardent or refined interest in food; a gourmet.