"Everyone loves sandwiches," resonated through Dru Titchener's head as she contemplated opening her own restaurant. Now, as General Manager of Dilly Deli, one of the newest downtown eateries, she not only has her own place, but is also discovering that Tulsans do enjoy a good sandwich for breakfast and lunch.
"I worked for Elliot Nelson (owner of McNellie's, El Guapo's Cantina, The Colony and Tiny Lounge) for five years, and I always told him I would love to run my own restaurant," Titchener said. She and Chef Todd Edwards are busy building the perfect sandwich at the deli that has only been open for three months.
Hot Sandwiches, Cold Sandwiches, Big Boy Treats, Create Your Own Sandwich or Salad, Salads, Soups, Starters and Sides are offered after 11am. "Before that it's breakfast--the most important meal of the day," according to the menu. Stuck in a city that seriously lacks enjoyable breakfast joints, I specifically came to Dilly Deli to sample the breakfast menu. That menu, similar to the lunch menu, has selections named after family members and friends of Titchener and Nelson.
For example, on the lunch menu there's the Glenn & Joan hot sandwich, made with corned beef, pastrami, Muenster & Swiss cheese, lettuce, tomato and onion served with honey mustard dressing on Tuscan bread ($8.50); the Sarah is a cold sandwich of fresh mozzarella, Roma tomato, pesto, romaine-spring mix and balsamic reduction served on focaccia ($7.95); and the Kathy Taylor features salad of tuna or chicken salad on romaine-spring mix, with Roma tomatoes, red onions, cucumbers, carrots and croutons ($9.50).
For breakfast, I chose from the Fuzz, The Jed, Sipes, Tina, Meg, Petey Pie, Verne, Beau, Sophie and Laronda. I decided upon the Petey Pie: corned beef hash, two eggs and toast or a biscuit ($7.95). I also asked for a side of gravy (.50). My friend ordered Meg: a fried egg, tomato, bacon and cheddar cheese served on Tuscan ($6.95). I also had to sample The Jed, described on the menu as a cinnamon roll as big as your head ($4.50).
Hot drinks at Dilly Deli include many coffee favorites: espresso (single $1.50/double $2.50), café latte ($3), cappuccino ($3), as well as Dilly Deli breakfast blend house bottomless coffee ($2.50). I ordered a cappuccino and my friend, a coffee. The coffee was hot and welcoming to the day to come. My capp, on the other hand, was tepid and lacked a rich velvety texture and that exotic espresso taste.
Soon our meals arrived, and we both enjoyed them immensely. My Petey Pie corned beef was most certainly homemade with diced potatoes, red and green bell peppers, sliced and coarsely cut corned beef and white onions fried together and topped with two over-easy eggs. As I cut into the meal, the egg yolks broke, becoming a gravy for the potatoes and melding the hash together. The potatoes were pleasantly firm and the veggies were al dente. It was delicious.
A side of quartered Yukon Gold potatoes was baked and creamy. The biscuit was small, airy and light.
The gravy was a less dense version with a different taste than the traditional Southern style. Titchener explained that the different taste is probably a result of the gravy being a vegetarian version of the classic white sausage gravy. She couldn't exactly say what is in it, except it did not have any heavy meat grease but did have garlic and pepper.
My friend's entree was equally tasty. The Tuscan bread was toasted then layered with a fried egg, lettuce, tomato, bacon and cheddar cheese. This was a very hearty sandwich--the cold veggies blended well with the hot fried egg, which was loose enough to provide a little "sauce" for the sandwich. The bread was solid and thick, supporting the fillings. He also had a side of breakfast potatoes, ($1.50) which are Yellow Gold potatoes quartered and fried with slender strips of red and green bell peppers and white onions. The side was very good, with a slight hint of sweetness from the peppers and onions.
The Jed was described as almost as large as "your head," and as Titchener said, it is named after Nelson's 4-year-old son, so it could be as big as his head. It's a giant roll coated in cinnamon and sugar, then baked and drizzled with a sweet, creamy icing. It was so big that it filled an entire plate.
Titchener said the assorted sandwich menu is going over very well. A few popular ones include the Michael Roy (grilled portabella, sun-dried tomato aioli, lettuce, tomato, and onion served with feta spread on focaccia, $8.50); Woz (French dip roast beef, au jus and Swiss cheese served on a hoagie, $8.50); and Mondy (grilled chicken, peanut butter, bean sprouts, cilantro and chili sauce served on wheat, $7.95).
Another very tasty option is The Biz: Ahi tuna steak seared medium rare with a ginger soy glaze, bean sprouts, wasabi aioli and avocado served on focaccia ($8.95).
The service at Dilly Deli is pleasant, relaxed, friendly and very accommodating. It blends well with the atmosphere Titchener designed herself. She said it's like being in her house. "I did not want anything to match in here. I wanted a big bookcase for people to come in and hang out." She admitted that she did not have a plan with the décor--and it appears that way--but it is very homey and works well for that type of restaurant. A few old-fashioned kitchen aprons hug support beams in the dining area; the raised level has the bookcase along one wall. Mismatched, heavy wooden tables and chairs are of an old traditional variety, painted with primary and pastel colors. The result is a bright, open atmosphere.
An outside patio (through the double doors on the east side of the dining room) is also available with a few games, such as Bocce Ball and shuffleboard.
402 E. 2nd St.
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