POSTED ON JULY 14, 2010:
Deli provides high-quality, in-house goods for reasonable price
"Food is a gift, eating is a celebration." That's how Sproutz menu and website describe their ethos. Former owners of Brookside landmarks Monte's and The Grapevine Restaurants, Don and Carrie Eller opened their newest project, Sproutz, approximately two months ago.
Located at the north end of a strip center at 26th and South Harvard, it is the perfect location to facilitate drive-thru as well as walk-in business. Every time we have been there, it has been busy, and service flowed well during all of our visits.
We have never had a bad meal there. Everything we have tried has been excellent. A particular source of pride for Madeleine Eller, the on-site manager and daughter of owners Don and Carrie, are the Short-Rib, the Reuben and the Pastrami sandwiches -- and I have to agree.
They are all made in-house, and, in particular, the corned beef is some of the best I have ever had -- way above average. Theories abound about the origins of this classic sandwich, with both New York City and Omaha, Neb. taking the credit.
Regardless of its origins, it's a perfect combination of corned beef, sauerkraut, Swiss cheese and 1000 Island dressing on grilled rye bread. What is particularly nice about the Reuben at Sproutz is that unlike many, this is a corned beef sandwich enhanced with kraut and dressing. So often, it is a sauerkraut and 1000 Island sandwich with a little corned beef in-between. Sproutz allows the flavor of the house brined, cooked meat to shine through. I can't wait to go back and get it yet again. The Pastrami is smoked right on location as well.
The short rib sandwich is tender and tasty, and the meat is obviously slow-cooked the way it should be and then cooled in the broth to let it reabsorb the juices and seasonings. It comes on a great crusty roll and is absolutely fabulous.
Side salads and accompaniments are all made in-house, too. A particular favorite of ours is the bleu cheese slaw -- a crispy fresh slaw with hearty undertones of a quality bleu cheese.
Madelein's tabouli is a treat as well. It has lots of fresh parsley and tomatoes, marinated in tasty, lemony vinaigrette. Not so much bulgur wheat as to be single-minded, this is a tabouli with layers of flavor.
The hummus, salmon spread, corn-and-black-bean salsa, white queso, meatballs, crab cakes, kibbe -- traditionally a mixture of lamb, wheat and nuts, (pronounced kib-beh) latkes, the Yiddish version of a potato pancake -- and almost everything else is made in house. There is a definite difference between made-from-scratch and pre-done. Even the Gruyere cheese profiteroles that come with every salad are done in the back. A profiterole is basically a savory cream puff, made with cheese instead of sugar -- a great complement to any meal.
Subsequent visits have given way to an awesome, salmon BLT and a lobster roll my New England friends would be proud of. Perfectly cooked to medium, the salmon has great flavor and was piled high on a fantastic baguette roll with crispy peppered bacon, fresh tomato and lettuce, and the "real deal" mayonnaise. For $8.75, this sandwich gets put in front of you with a lot of bite in it. I could eat it three or four times a week for a long time and not get tired of it.
My wife's Lobster Roll was overflowing with huge chunks of perfectly cooked, tender lobster. And at $9.25, it's a huge bargain.
Looking around as you enter, you see a large round table in the front that I can only imagine is occupied by a group of retired locals every morning holding court and solving the world's problems -- and drinking the coffee. If not yet, it soon will be.
It's that type of atmosphere. Four-top tables hug the wall all the way to the back of the place on one side, and the other is a long glass display case and counter with the grill and work area behind it.
I am a little perplexed as to why the glass deli case is not up front where the great looking salads, Boar's Head and Hebrew National meats, chickens and duck breasts and more don't get the visual attention they deserve. You can and do pass it when you go to the beverage station at the back, but for my money, it's the star of the show and should be up front.
When we first walked in the door, we were immediately drawn to a counter-top display case with muffins, cookies, bagels, scones and pastries. Before we even got around to deciding what to order for dinner, we had a bag of muffins and cookies, each described to us in detail and guaranteed to have been made on premises, some from grandma's recipes. I really think the same could hold true for the other items -- if they were more strategically placed.
Sproutz breakfast has plenty to offer as well. From the homemade pastries, to breakfast casseroles, smoothies to specialty coffee drinks, all are great.
Sproutz also offers a great looking catering menu, with lots of items to choose from and most everything by the pound as well. It's a huge menu for such a small space. I'm sure it must be overwhelming at times trying to keep up with it all.
Truthfully, there is a whole lot more here than can be named. (Check out the web site at sproutztulsa.com for a complete list.)
In addition to the menu, daily specials are available as well. Bowl specials rotate daily as do luncheon plates. All range from $5.25 to $8.25. As a matter of fact, nothing on the menu is higher than $8.50, except the salmon BLT and Lobster Roll, and the average is probably around $6.50 or even a bit less.
Madeleine Eller spent time under the tutelage of local restaurateur Tim Inman, owner of Utica Square's successful Stonehorse Cafe. Not to mention that she basically grew up in the restaurant business by her parents' side, and it's easy to see why she has such a quality minded ethic.
As for the name, at first blush I wasn't exactly sure it fit. For some reason I sort of expected the old vegetarian hippie concept, kind of like the old Middlepath Café. After spending time there and getting to know the menu ... it works!
"The name Sproutz came to Don and Carrie honestly through their young children" Eller said. "They wanted a place that had a Bohemian Colorado approach to East Coast neighborhood ethnic food. It had to have the high quality dad demands, but also extremely kid friendly and fun. Sproutz has all the menu items that a classic New York delicatessen would have."
My vote is that they succeeded with flair. It's definitely on our list of regular places to go.
While not a kosher deli, they do feature kosher products, as well as organic and some artisan offerings as well. A "green" page on the site gives good tips toward preserving our environment and community and is worth a look.
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