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Restaurant: The Courtyard Deli
Address: 312 Main St., Suite 104, in Placerville
Hours: Open Tuesday through Sunday from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.
The humble sandwich is often misunderstood as just two slices of bread with something crammed in the middle.
It is, in my opinion, one of the more sadly underrated “‘food stuffs,” because when it’s done right it can be absolutely transcendent.
Trouble is that finding a place that does “The Art of the Sandwich” justice is a challenge nowadays.
As a matter of fact it’s always been that way, at least as long as I’ve been alive. I can count on three fingers the amount of times I have had a truly remarkable sandwich, but I can happily report that I can add another digit after eating at The Courtyard Deli.
Here, quality and pride in the product they offer actually matters. The first thing that struck me about The Courtyard Deli is the cleanliness; it’s immaculate, everything is in its proper place and nothing is without a purpose.
Cleanliness and a well organized kitchen are two things that are often forgotten when discussing the merits of a restaurant, but they shouldn’t be, because they’re of the utmost importance. Bottom line: it shows the owners care about your experience. And I am happy to report that that care translates to the food also, which is wonderful.
I came with my guest, who has eaten here a few times before, and he remarked that he already knows what he’s getting before we cross the threshold.
“I’m getting the pulled pork sandwich. It’s amazing; done deal,” he said.
The pulled pork is slow roasted and piled high on a toasted (important) Kaiser roll topped with the restaurant’s gourmet barbecue sauce.
But my companion does a 180 on me once he sees the special of the day, a fried meatloaf sandwich.
This is not your ordinary, Sunday afternoon watching a football game meatloaf sandwich. Owners Jann and Tanya Wells somehow manage to elevate it to another level, maybe a couple of levels even. It’s a thick slice of their homemade meatloaf and you can have whatever you want on it.
My dining companion chose the basics as to not interfere with the star attraction: lettuce, tomatoes and ketchup.
“They don’t skimp on quality ingredients here,” he remarked between bites. “They really focus on taking care of the customer first, and they do this first by making sure their ingredients are first rate.”
Needless to say he loved his sandwich.
I decided on the “house specialty,” which is a massive club Hoagie, consisting of ham, turkey, Genoa salami, lettuce, tomato, wax peppers, pickles, onion and, in my case, provolone cheese, all encased in a — what do you know — a Hoagie roll.
Once more the sandwich was ample and delicious, but almost too much to eat in one setting.
“Most people end up taking one half home with them, for dinner,” said Tanya, who always goes around to her guests to make sure they’re having a good time and enjoying her husband’s culinary marvels.
Well, I didn’t need a to-go box, but I thought it was interesting how both of us slowed down our chomping the closer we got to the end of our meals. Oh, and by the way, I absolutely loved my sandwich. You can tell that Jann puts a lot of thought into what I call “condiment interaction.” The flavors and textures of the condiments compliment, rather than overshadow, the meat of the sandwich.
It’s rare enough to find a place that serves great food, but to find one with the caliber of owners who deeply care about their customers and the quality of products they serve is a bit of a minor miracle.
The deli can be hard to find, even though it’s located on Main Street in Placerville, but once you do you’ll be back time and time again. I would lay money on it.
The Courtyard Deli is located at 312 Main St., Suite 104, right next to the Cary House Hotel, in Placerville, and is open Tuesday through Sunday from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. The phone number is 530-344-7547.